Monday, 16 November 2015

Thelma, the "good artefact Hunter" and the PAS's Alter-Vikings

Thelma can't see without her glasses''
Over on an FSA's blog near you, one "Thelma"  gets utterly lost. She claims to be interested in "green issues" but that apparently does not apply when hoikers are pocketing the past and by their own admission not reporting it to the PAS. So we find her joining John Hooker's lovefest for a metal detectorist pal (4 November 2015 at 00:08)
Dean Crawford is a 'good' metal detectorist and I am sure there are many others like him 
So am I. Mr Crawford gives "reasons" why he does not report the finds he takes for his own collection to the PAS and I am convinced there are several thousand who do exactly the same.

"Thelma" thinks that
"when Saxon or Viking treasures are uncovered there is a sense that we are adding to our knowledge of these long dead people  and so of course with coins as they contribute to the understanding of the movement of tribes [...]". 
Hmm, coin findspots (IF reported) show nothing more than the movement of coins. Coins need not be an ethnospecific artefact type any more than 'African trade'  beads.

People who think like Thelma really need to look at some books on Anglo-Saxon and especially Viking archaeology. The range of material culture which we find in archaeological contexts of the period is quite different from the contents of the Portable Antiquities Scheme database which derives from the activities of relic collectors. The PAS database contains a much higher proportion of coins than is found on normal sites of the period, obviously many metal detectorists are avid collectors of coins (they have pictures and writing on them, so you don't have to think too much). The quantity of coins compared to other finds is considerably higher than domestic or even urban assemblages - even those sites which have a proposed 'market' function. Obviously what artefact collectors hoik and pocket is not by any means a representative sample of the material culture of the sites and assemblages they exploit (and damage in that process). The number of "Viking" iron objects in the PAS database is minimal, yet iron was the basic material for making the tools with which the other objects were made. The artefact hunters simply discard what they've hoiked which does not interest them. I have written a paper on the 'Álter-archaeology' of the Vikings that the partnership with treasure hunters has produced in Britain to be published here in Poland early next year. Thelma and those who think like her need to read it before writing any more superficial nonsense in support of artefact hoiking and collecting. Even the 'good metal detectorists' are not doing as much good as their supporters make out, what selective collection and documentation does not destroy, it distorts. Whatever "Thelma" and the doting FSA think, those who hide their finds from access through the PAS database are not 'good artefact hunters', they are self-evidently nothing more than knowledge thieves.

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