Tuesday, 30 December 2014

PAS loses Direction

After so many changes, PAS seems
to have no clear policy any more
Professor David Gill writes about Material from controlled archaeological excavation changing the character of the PAS database. David has found references to at least 392 examples of material from "Controlled archaeological excavation" being in the database, despite the fact that the PAS declares: 
We do not record details of objects found by archaeologists, and these data can be found within the local Historic Environment Office.
There is thus here a gross conflict between what the PAS says and what it does.  To this may be added the use of the PAS database to record Treasure finds (when the PAS was set up to make a record of finds falling outside the scope of the Treasure Act - which requires by law other reporting mechanisms). Why is there this duplication?

This is particularly puzzling when we learn that the PAS does not have the resources to record all the non-Treasure items being (it says) brought in for recording by finders and is turning away material found in metal detecting which thus disappears into scattered ephemeral personal collections without any record (for example, blithely here page 4, from the Scheme's deputy director). Surely the answer is to more strictly define the scope and activities of the Scheme, and focus the resources on a single task, which is liaising with members of the public finding non-Treasure artefacts and encouraging best practice - which includes recording those items so this information is available in the public domain. Wasting resources on other tasks is weakening the ability of the Scheme to undertake its primary (and publicly funded) purpose.

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