Sunday, 16 October 2016

British Academy supports Artefact Hunting

The University of Leicester Press Office tells us that their (School of Archaeology and Ancient History) visiting Professor Roger Bland has recently been awarded the prestigious President's Medal from the British Academy 'for his part in establishing the Portable Antiquities Scheme'  
“I am humbled to have been honoured with this prestigious award,” he said. “Mainly because it recognises the success of the Portable Antiquities Scheme in harnessing the efforts of amateur searchers for archaeological objects who use metal detectors in transforming our knowledge of our archaeological heritage.”
Well, that is a falsehood for a start. They do not set out to create knowledge (for if they did, they'd use a different technique), but they use metal detectors to hoik out artefacts blind from their archaeological associations and pocket them (or carrier bag them) for their own personal collections.

Some of these loose collected items are shown to the PAS and its supporters claim that this in some way leads to said 'transformation'. I think the case for this is overstated - and it is clear that the sample size of what is reported versus what is hoiked overall is too small to say whether the availability of the missing information would not modify that 'transformed' picture. Who is to say when it sits in detectorists sheds or in skips and flogged off on eBay?

Maybe one of those PAS-loving archaeologists would like to come here and show me wrong? No? Thought not.

Vignette: There are too many pictures of Roger Bland on this blog at the moment, here's an aardvark. 

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