Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Chester Archaeological Society and the Metal Detectorists

Chester Archaeological Society is announcing that it is going, in support of its aims, to make a "grant to support the study of PAS finds from Cheshire":
The Society wishes to encourage the study and publication of objects (or groups/types of object) reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme from Cheshire and adjoining areas, to ensure that their potential contribution to the understanding of the archaeology and history of the county is realised. It is therefore offering a grant of GBP 700 every two years to help suitable persons to undertake such research.
Seven hundred quid, eh? That should cover a drawing or two. So, they feel the "potential contribution" of the one in five bits and bobs from artefact hunters' private collections which get reported is being unrealised? Why would that be, are not archaeologists falling over themselves to get their hands on these "data"?  Coincidentally, yesterday I finished a text for publication here in Poland on whether the PAS in Britain actually are producing anything that can be classed as "data" and what constraints the manner in which the information is gathered and the form in which it is presented have on their use for any kind of serious research. There were eight listed, and seven hundred quid is unlikely to make a dent in any of them.Chester, don't waste your members' money, get out and do some real archaeological outreach.

For the lazy and library-challenged  ('Coin Collectors Posing as "Academics"... ' PACHI Thursday, 7 May 2015), I'll put my paper up on Academia.edu the moment the Polish publisher's rights to it run out.

UPDATE 19th May 2015 (a few minutes later)
Ha ha, capital! The moment I pressed "send" on this blog post an email popped into my inbox with this "gem" Taylor, Abigail, 'The Portable Antiquities Scheme as a Research Tool for Exploring Cultural Identities in the Fourth to the Sixth centuries CE', and that title illustrates very neatly one of my eight points.


heritageaction said...

"It will show that metal-detected artifacts do not entirely lack context"

To do so it would need to show the percentage of falsified find spots in PAS's database, i.e. the frequency of laundering by geography.

Paul Barford said...

Well, of course PAS will tell you that they do not routinely check that, nor can they. They will also tell you "it v. rarely happens, all our partners are responsible chaps".

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