Saturday, 3 October 2015

Worlingworth, Wilby and Alien Komnenids in Britain

So, this interesting Komnenid coin (said to have been) "found in Suffolk" being sold in the UK, ("excessively rare and possibly the only specimen of this Byzantine Emperor in silver available to the private collector"), what do we know about its actual findspot? Why all the secrecy? Why eight months on, was the PAS record for it still unavailable (Unavailable record: SF-3175A4 yet already included in the PAS "finds recorded today" tally) until I queried it with the FLO ? It is now visible here, SF-3175A4. I tried to send a comment, let's see what answer it gets from LavaPAS:
This coin is said by the seller ( to be "excessively rare and possibly the only specimen of this Byzantine Emperor in silver available to the private collector" and its presence in southern England well outside the area of circulation and distribution of Komnenid silver makes it a bit of an outlier.

I am curious, what is an FLO to do in such circumstances when there clearly is potential for the PAS to be used to 'launder' finds made elsewhere, presenting them as British finds? There have already been some cases of this sort of thing, I understand.

Without casting any aspersions on the anonymous finder of this object or the landowner, can you tell us, what concrete evidence is it that the coin was actually found where the seller says it was? When you recorded (handled) it, did you have a release document for that specific find signed by the landowner as assurance of licit origins? If not, do you not think you should have to avoid the possibility of handling illicit material? After all, we are all becoming increasingly aware of the problem of illicit material on the collectors' market and the possibilities of it contaminating the archaeological record by poor dude diligence by recorders obviously needs to be guarded against.

How do you account for that odd corrosion product (not described in your record)?

Thanks Paul Barford
Ah, very droll. Is it just comments sent from Poland that the PAS database is set up to reject, or do audiences in Britain have the same problems with this public database?

 It seems to me that "3022" is the right answer. But this gives you:

"The two given tokens do not match".

Well, yes, they jolly well do, as did all the other previous attempts. What really good practice from the BM's department of "Learning, Volunteers and Audiences'. They cannot even set up a proper comments facility for their public record. This is a recurring problem. Once again, it seems that 'appearances' is what this is all about, quantity rather than quality of information. This is the story of the PAS.

The FLO's record of this "excessively rare" object is extremely superficial, with not a mention of the odd corrosion product on one face which results from the context (context, Mr Brown) in which it was originally buried. Nothing whatsoever is said on any of the records the FLO made that day which suggests that the recorder for a moment considered the veracity of the reported findspot of any of the finds handed to him for recording. The Lockdales photo is properly-lit and shows the coin has been badly scratched up by the finder. The PAS photo is 'soapy' and hides that fact. The PAS 'record' is not a full and objective record of that object, and nor does it address the issues it raises.

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