Friday, 15 August 2014

Where have Eleven Million Objects Gone?


The PAS is proudly stating that is database contains "994,150 hoiked objects, documented within 628,191 records". That's not exactly the good news it appears. The Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter will click over today its twelfth millionth item in the "Overall Total since 1975" category. The PAS may be close to documenting the 999,999th object hoiked and vanished into some ephemeral personal collection. The HA counter raises the point what has happened to the other eleven million lost pieces of evidence about the past. The question "Where have Eleven Million Objects Gone?" reminds us, though, that even in the case of the PAS recorded artefacts, we do not have the foggiest where most of the million-recorded items in private curation have now gone. The whole lot has vanished, together with any unrecorded information associated with them.

11 comments:

Andy Baines said...

Where would you prefer them to be Paul, honest answer please and no skipping around the question. Where do you think the 1 million objects would be better placed? In the ground still or in a storage container? In a museum back office filling cabinet? I look forward to your honest answer.

Regards

Paul Barford said...

Conservation:

Elephant tusks
rhino horns
wild bird eggs
bluebells
wild orchids
wild tortoises
rare butterflies
various fluffy mammals on CITES list
...
in somebody's ephemeral collection, or still where they were before the poachers came along? What does the word "conservation" mean to you Mr Baines? Honest answer.

Andy Baines said...

You still have not answered my question Mr Barford, I will answer you question when you have answered my question.

Regards

Paul Barford said...

actually, I am not a bit interested in your "reply". It was a rhetorical question.

heritageaction said...

May I add a supplementary:

Mr Baines:

Elephant tusks
rhino horns
wild bird eggs
bluebells
wild orchids
wild tortoises
rare butterflies
various fluffy mammals on CITES list

.... Which of the above do you think should be taken by individuals for fun or profit?

Honest, succinct, unqualified answer please, not including silence. Incidentally, YOU are the one helping yourself to the archaeological resource so why you should require Paul to answer first before you justify what you do I don't know.

Andy Baines said...

Still you are skirting round my question,where would you rather the 1 million objects be ?

Regards

Paul Barford said...

Where, Mr Baines? Like most people I guess, not in the hands of anyone who evidently has not the foggiest idea what we are talking about.

Andy Baines said...

Have you not posted my comment replies to yourself and Mr swift to make it look as though I have run from the situation? If so that is a bit of an underhand tactic

Paul Barford said...

No, I did not post your next TWO comments because seven is enough and you were being repetitive and are not making any substantive point.

Paul Barford said...

Mr Baines (once again) you are being repetitive and are not making any substantive point about the topic of this post.

David Knell said...

Andy,

Paul answered your question in his very first reply.

Elephant tusks are best left on the elephant - where they form part of an endangered species - rather than brutally cut off and carted away into the ivory trade, leaving the elephant dead. Keep destroying elephants like that and you'll eventually run out of elephants.

Wild bird eggs are best left in the nest - where they form part of an ecosystem - rather than picked out and carted away into a display box, leaving the birds without their offspring. Keep destroying eggs like that and you'll eventually run out of those birds.

And so on ...

Ancient artefacts are best left "in the ground" - where they form ONLY ONE PART of a WHOLE assemblage of assorted evidence - rather than selectively dug up and carted away into some unknown private collection, leaving the other evidence denuded. Keep destroying evidence like that and you'll eventually run out of sites that can be meaningfully interpreted.


From your own blog:
"They are buried many inches underground at no benefit to anyone until they are discovered ..."

The mere DISCOVERY of artefacts is only a tiny part of the process. They need to be examined in the stratigraphic context of the site as a whole, in relation to structural and other remains, other objects such as pottery shards, and many types of subtle evidence that require expertise to analyse. In most cases, the only "benefit to anyone" that you will achieve by just selectively ripping the metal bits out of the ground will be to have yet more decontextualised baubles to gawp at. The site itself will have been robbed of much of its evidence and the potential to add to our knowledge of history is likely to have gone forever.

conserve (verb): Protect from harm or destruction.

 
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