Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Not Gophers or Badgers, but Foxes?

Recently we have seen that metal detectorists have been in denial, small shovel holes dug in protected areas are explained by them, not as traces of illicit artefact hunting, but as misidentified holes dug by animals. In the US the preferred attribution are "gophers" and in the UK "moles", "rabbits", "badgers" and "dogs". Or maybe it is provocative "rouge archaeologists". In any case, they refuse to believe that damage to archaeological sites is the work of fellow metal detectorists.

In the same way the dealers and collectors of dug-up antiquities are presuming to question the abilities of archaeologists trained in aerial photo interpretation to be able to interpret aerial photos.  Over in the antiquities blogosphere suggestions are being made that the "satellite imagery which appears to show looter's holes" in fact are not what they seem to trained observers. It is being suggested that maybe "most of holes at Apamea (and other sites like Dura Europos)" were "actually for military purposes, i.e., "fox holes" for the troops of the warring factions".

I think a conclusion might be that should war break out in their country, no ancient coin collector - with their naive and superficial "looks-like" comparisons - should be placed in charge of civil defence. They obviously have no idea what tactical earthworks should look like.

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