Thursday, 14 January 2016

PAS Statement on "Citizen Archaeology Permits"

Popular archaeology
It is good to see the PAS getting involved in some discussions about so-called "citizen archaeology" which is just another name for artefact hunting and collecting ('PAS Statement on HB803').  This refers to House Bill 803, “An act relating to historic and archaeological artefacts" (but also Senate Bill 1054, “Historic and Archaeological Artefacts”) which aims to develop a program to issue permits to individuals for purpose of collecting artefacts from publicly owned lands. The finder would then be allowed to keep these artefacts or sell them. A previous Isolated Finds program involving reporting of the location of findspots of collected artefacts (1996-2005) was abandoned after only a small number of collectors actually reported their finds and there is no reason to believe that finders will behave any differently a decade later. The PAS asks that people write to their elected officials in protest of this latest legislative assault on archaeological and cultural resources.

 Its good to see a PAS with balls at last defending the archaeological resource for the whole of society and not "partnering" the exploitive minority who want to pocket the lot. Of course that's not the effete, jobsworth British Portable Antiquities Scheme, which only very unwillingly opposes anything at all said or done by artefact hunters, this is the Pensacola Archaeological Society (a Chapter of the Florida Anthropological Society) which is standing up for preservation. For the discussion generally, see Kristina Killgrove, 'Florida Archaeologists Condemn Proposed 'Citizen Archaeology' Permit', Forbes Jan 13, 2016. Killgroves' comments on Florida's IFP are directly applicable to the British Portable Antiquities Scheme:
The Isolated Finds Program was discontinued in 2005 and considered by many to be a total failure. The program cost the state more money than it brought in through application fees. It also failed to produce a list of sites reported by those collecting artifacts. Even when land managers directly observed people collecting artifacts, only 20% of the collectors followed through by reporting site location. It further confused the distinction between where collecting was legal on state land and where it was illegal by federal law or local ordinance protection.
I note that the US antiquities trade lobbyists who insist other nations adopt the collector-friendly "British system" are keeping out of the debate about such approaches applied to the Homeland archaeological resources.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love it! I got quite excited there for a moment. PAS standing up for archaeology against exploitation. Happy dream!

Anyway, I've left a quick message on the American PAS website.....

Well done! Your namesake, PAS in the UK lacks your spherical fortitude and has plodded on with "voluntary reporting" for nearly 2 decades despite 70% non-co-operation. Could you pop over to Britain and explain the realities please?

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