Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Tangled world of the PAS

Heritage Action point out the tangled logic behind the continued PAS silence on certain issues (' PAS in a tangle: the Emperor’s state of undress is both admitted and denied!' 14/11/2015)
For ages The Establishment’s main defence of artefact hunting has been that ”artefact hunters find new sites”. But no longer, not since “Old PAS” conceded in its final days that 70% of finds don’t get reported. There’s no public benefit in the finding of new sites if the public doesn’t benefit. Perhaps with that in mind the Twitter entity “Portable Antiquities” has this week offered a second defence: “Obviously we believe responsible metal-detecting makes a useful contribution to archaeology, highlighting sites previously known.” But this doesn’t stand up either. If they’re “known sites” they hardly need “highlighting”. Even if they meant the sites can be “better investigated” that’s not true either if no-one is told about them (or the evidence is eroded away forever).
The PAS was set up at great effort and public expense to deal with the metal detecting problem through dialogue. Instead, as HA point out, what it has instead achieved is a large increase in the number of people seeing no problem in taking up the hobby at a time when its own resources are stretched 
its mandate is and always was just to maximise the reporting of artefacts by existing detectorists, not to defend, praise, promote or expand metal detecting. Doing so is bad enough (ask most archaeologists abroad what they think!) but the fact it is now doing so using arguments which it has itself admitted are 70% invalid is a step-change worse. “New PAS” should grasp the nettle.
Perhaps though that through its own myopic navel-gazing in the Bloomsbury-smog-enveloped attic rooms of the BM, the PAS can no longer see where those nettles are. There was a clump growing in Lenborough, but the PAS walked right past it in tight-lipped silence.

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