Wednesday, 27 January 2016

"Nazi War" Digger' Attacks Archaeology TV

Andy Brockman's The Pipeline has been following the thread on a metal detecting forum near you (see here) where in apparent self-justification one of the metal detectorist presenters of the series attacks ground-breaking TV archaeology series "Time Team" ('Battlefield Recovery Rodgers' Time Team Jibe "Cheap, Nasty and Wrong" says former presenter', 27th January 2016). Rodgers claims that in the case of the programme he was part of, finds were recorded and handed to relevant authorities or now in the museums. licenses were gained, search permissions gained, and brave soldiers and civilians were given proper, official burials, and that this was "the opposite of Time Team”, implying that the Channel 4 series did not record and report finds, gain licences or permissions and treat human remains ethically. This is typical of the "them and us" attitudes fostered among artefact hunters and collectors towards archaeology and conservation. Instead of understanding and taking on board criticism of the egregious bad practice shown by "Nazi War Diggers/ Battlefield Recovery" programme, and acting on them, we see here the two typical reactions of the UK metal detecting community and artefact collectors in general.

The first reaction is a knee-jerk denial. 
Re the show, I'm still very much proud of what we achieved, and no academic snobbery can take that away from me.
According to the artefact hunter, the comments are not merited at all, this is just snobbery by snobs (who no doubt Mr Rodgers would claim are "jealous"), and he sees nothing wrong with entering into a contact like the one he signed and being filmed doing these things.

The second is to prevent any open discussion of what the difference between best, and bad practice in the use of metal detectors and spades is. Hence the thread on the metal detecting forum near you got locked the moment such a discussion was begun, and very soon the links will probably cease to work. "Shhhh, hide it away, pretend it never happened".

The problem is the current model of so-called "responsible detecting" requires that there IS awareness of what is and is not best and bad practice. (For how else can artefact hoikers hoik responsibly in a manner not damaging?) This in turn requires open discussion and accountability being encouraged, not blocked.

It is the underlying thesis of this blog that the so-called responsible detecting of England and Wales is a myth, a facade  and it is the repetition time and time again of the issues that come to the fore in a very public way in the case of this televised example of a typical detectorist escapade that I argue bring into very serious doubt the tenets on which this (imagined) model relies.
Mr Rodgers comments may also be causing concern among some metal detectorists and militaria collectors.  ThePipeLine understands that, as is suggested in responses on metal detecting and militaria collectors forums, a number of detectorists and collectors fear that the practices shown in Battlefield Recovery [...] are reflecting badly on their hobby.  [...] The disquiet at the potential damage the series may be inflicting appears to  be even reaching the highest echelons of the metal detecting hobby in the UK. 
and not before time.

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