Sunday, 1 February 2015

"Don’t dismiss metal detecting"

" Don’t dismiss metal detecting" writes John C Barbour, Monagri Cyprus, and of course the bloke trots out the same damaging stuff-the-PAS-don't-tell-anyone:
In the UK in recent years, a major source of newly-found material and sites has been by the chance finds of dedicated people using metal-detectors. The UK reward system ‘Treasure Trove’, means that virtually all significant finds are declared, and not sold off on the black market. 
He then of course suggests that metal detecting in Cyprus should be allowed "everywhere excluding say declared ancient monuments and their surroundings".

W-h-y    a-r-e    t-h-e   P-A-S    NOT    d-e-a-l-i-n-g    w-i-t-h    d-a-m-a-g-i-n-g   m-i-s-c-o-n-c-e-p-i-o-n-s    c-a-u-s-e-d   b-y    t-h-e-i-r    o-w-n    i-n-a-b-i-l-i-t-y   t-o    d-o  t-he-i-r   o-u-t-r-e-a-c-h P-R-O-P-E-R-L-Y-? 

Since they are unlikely to do it, my reply was:
@ mr Barbour, How can they be "chance" finds if artefact hunters with metal detectors are largely targeting known "productive" sites? The main thing these UK hobbyists are "dedicated' to is getting more archaeological artefacts out of those productive sites to add to their personal collections.

The "UK  reward system" [sic]  is not called "Treasure Trove". The 1986 UK Treasure Act unfortunately does NOT mean that "virtually all archaeologically significant finds" are reported and many unreported finds are indeed disappearing into private collections and being sold on the antiquities market.

John C Barbour has a rather distorted and over-idealistic picture of what is happening in the UK under those "policies" he wants to see elsewhere. If they are so great, why has no other nation in the world adopted them?
Is there anything difficult to understand here?Why is it that when talking about "metal detecting" many people seem to just switch off their critical facilities and see only what they want to see?

Fortunately not everyone is as unclued up as Mr Barbour, a "
Metal detecting is not illegal because it locates archaeological material - it is illegal because the metal detector operators dig up the artefacts (and keep them). The act of simply digging up the artefacts without proper recording or care for archaeological and geological contexts destroys all sorts of information. This information includes:
- Any indication of time-frame in which the artefact was deposited.
- Any indication of environmental conditions at the time of deposition.
- Any indication of relationship to other artefacts found in the same area, or same context.
- Any indication of preparation of the terrain for depositing the item by whoever put it there.
This is why metal detector activities present a serious problem for recording the past. Some are ethical, but most simply bulldoze into the archaeology with no accountability, and no peer-review of their activities.
UPDATE 2.2.15

Oh look, "Pirate-Flag John" is now there with his usual trollish ad hominems trying his best to make UK metal detectorists look crass, ignorant, argumentative slobs. That'll really impress them over on Cyprus.


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