Sunday, 23 April 2017

Dismay in the Ranks: 'Archaeological Looting Can Enhance your Lifestyle - Have a go!'

A British archaeologist breaks ranks, describing a recent text in the media as:

one of the most crass, ill informed and damaging articles in national press I've ever read encouraging metal detecting
Another is inclined to agree with her:
Mike Nevell‏ @Archaeology_UoS 2 hrs ago. In reply to @lornarichardson  
 I can't see any redeeming features in this article or the event. Why would the BM do this? Undermines the PAS totally.
PAS started undermining their own mission from day two, I think.

I do not know which article so incensed Ms Richardson (because she thinks she has nothing to say of interest to me so to save me wasting time reading what she says there, she has kindly blocked me from accessing her tweets). Nevertheless I think it is a fair bet that she is referring to: Laura Silverman, 'What it's like to uncover buried treasure with a metal detector – and how to do it yourself' Telegraph [in the 'Lifestyle' section] 23 April 2017. This gaily announces:
To celebrate 20 years of the Treasure Act, the Telegraph is launching Treasure 20 in association with the British Museum. The competition will highlight the 20 best treasure finds discovered over the past 20 years, picked by experts and Telegraph representatives. [...]  Readers will then be able to vote online for their favourite.
Which - pray tell us British Museum - will result in what, precisely? The BM most likely are totally unable to explain what this is about in any sensible way, but of what they did contribute to this irresponsible 'loot-enhancing-lifestyle-lauding' text, I was interested to see this bit:
Lewis says there are up to 10,000 regular metal detectorists.
You've pinched MY (old) figures Mr Lewis. Sam Hardy says there are many more. I think he's right. And who remembers how much trouble we had dragging out of the PAS any kind of an estimate for the number of artefact hunters in England and Wales in the past? One of the PAS staff seems a bit confused by the dumbdown outreach they are forced to undertake:
Dr Marsden believes “an absolutely enormous amount” of treasure is left in the ground. “Metal detectorists are like rescue archaeologists,” says Dr Marsden.
No, Treasure hunters are Treasure hunters, archaeologists are archaeologists, archaeology is not 'just' about digging up old things and if Dr Marsden really does think that is all it is, in my opinion he needs to think about getting another job.

The British Museum should be urged by British archaeological and heritage conservation bodies to to drop this ill-considered 'Treasure 20' campaign, which only promotes treasure-hunting and nothing else (it is not even 'encouraging reporting, because reporting Treasure is obligatory). Scandalous. 


Anonymous said...

I can't tell you what else she said Paul as she has blocked me too.

It seems that while she thinks encouraging metal detecting is a very bad thing, criticism PAS for doing exactly that shouldn't be allowed.

I wonder if she'll block her UCL colleague Sam Hardy for recently delivering a blow against metal detecting (and therefore PAS) three times more devastating than anything I've ever served up.

Oh well, I guess Heritage Action's face just doesn't fit, though not to the extent she wasn't happy to feature in our Journal!

Funny old world, innit?

Paul Barford said...

>I can't tell you what else she said Paul as she has blocked me too.<
It is really pathetic isn't it when British archaeologists happily chat about superficialities with artefact collectors ('passinitly intresid in th' past') but have not the stomach to address the broader issues in discussions with those urging a more searching look at the realities hidden behind such glib acquiescent camaraderie.

Anonymous said...

I must admit, "glib acquiescent camaraderie" drives me nuts since it's a statistical fact that a random detectorist is statistically highly likely to be failing to report some or all of his finds.

What a damaging reality for anyone to pretend is not true - and to censor others from pointing out. Britain is only bonkers because of the awful attitudes of some British archaeologists. What on earth do they say when they meet archaeologists from abroad?

Paul Barford said...

To be fair, this is not 'censoring' as much as shutting their own minds to it, bliss through ignorance. This is how British academia looks these days? .

Anonymous said...

Feels like bloody censorship to me. 90%-plus likely uber-hypocrite greedy Gazza can post comments but Heritage Action can't!

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