Monday, 22 January 2018

Saturday, 20 January 2018

The Uses of Heritage

“And I said to her, if you give the EU £40 billion, I will
let you borrow an embroidered cloth that depicts the
French beating the English. And she said yes!

Meanwhile, there are severe reservations about moving the Bayeux Tapestry from the point of view of the state of preservation and conservation needs.

Quaint UKDFD Supporters, Gotta Love Them

 Traer Scott 
It's sort of like looking at little puppies, they look so cute, innocent and tumble around in the basket like they have no brains, awwwww.... but enough of that, now it's time for substantive comment from the artefact collecting community on the pay-to-view UKDFD like only metal detectorists know how. Alongside the usual ad hominems and hate speech aimed at those questioning what is going on in the metal detecting community by the unfulfilled inadequates that metal detecting seems to attract in some numbers, we also find those that attempt to make substantive remarks. Like comments Jim Crombie who commented on the new UKDFD. He ventures:
 This UKDFD creation can only do a lot of good for the hobby and metal detectorists in general. Being a hobbyist myself I hope government continues to enable the hobby to continue and be regulated as it is. [...] The UKDFD’s webpage will encourage metal detectorists to record finds of interest to the authorities and help finders of metalwork identify what they have dug up. Towns, villages, parishes, counties all over the UK will have instant access to a facility that provides up to date historical information about any area within the UK. Looking forward to viewing the UKDFD’s new site.
What a shame he did not visit the site first before writing about how jolly useful it will be. But like the puppies, maybe he's not learnt to read big words yet. When those 'authorities', 'towns, villages, parishes, counties all over the UK' get their access.... the money will be rolling into the UKDFD coffers. Somehow I do not think this actually will be doing artefact hunting the 'good' Mr Crombie anticipates.   Another tekkie, one Micheal also commented on the same topic with even less understanding of what has been said about it:
An excellent idea whose time has come John… [...] And with the mapping that this project has undertaken, there will be a more complete analysis of where and when items are found. Hopefully patterns can be extrapolated Micheal
I suspect Mr Micheal has confused the UKDFD (which has not up to now had a mapping facility) with the PAS, which has. I'd like to ask Mr Micheal who he thinks will be doing this 'mapping' with data that the people who have now seized control of them want to charge them to even look at them. I am also curious what purpose he thinks these maps would serve if the UKDFD database has 47000 objects and the PAS one (free to use) a much larger sample thirty times larger.

Then we have this comment from another from over that side of the sea who can't quite seem to work out what is what either. Here's John from Ontario (AKA Geobound):
John not being from the UK, but fascinated and intrigued to see what has been found, I think this idea is fantastic. I’m sure there is an awful lot of time and energy put into compiling these lists, maintaining these lists and investigating the artifacts found, so a pay per use only seems fair and logical to me. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I’m going to head over to the UKDFD site and sign up.
One born every minute. If Geobound headed over to EBay.UK, he can see thousands of metal detected finds for free. The same goes for the PAS run by archaeologists and provided as a public service, but nobody with a metal detector over there has heard of it of course. In Ontario, it seems it's too difficult to grasp the idea that the 'time and energy' that went into finding these artefacts and posting them up on the database is not that of the people now pocketing the money that have taken over the results of other people's work and records and photos of other people's property. Anyway 'Geobound', have fun looking and dreaming. Here's another fugitive from reality (Nettie commenting on the Launch of the new UKDFD):
I have used this UKDFD site for years and found it invaluable for research when I first started detecting … and have missed it being available while update being carried out…. a lot of time and energy goes into running a site like this and it costs money when updates are required … I voluntarily donated in the past and am very happy to pay a small sum (approx the cost of one dig ) to be able to carry on using this facility.

But the purpose of 'that facility' is to record items taken by the detecting community so that the other stakeholders (members of the British public and academics) can see what has been taken, that is the whole purpose of this record (as an alternative to the PAS). That is wholly negated by making every member of the public and every professional that wishes even to see what is there paying up in order to gain this 'privilege'. Mr Nettie may feel 'very happy to pay a small sum' to legitimize his exploitive hobby, whether non-collectors will be so 'happy' to pay-to-view the results is a wholly other matter, and the one that these self-centred cognitive orphans do not seem to even see.

Looking at the timbre of the comments so far, I think really we do not need to bother what the sort of metal detectorists that are grouped around John Winter's blog 'think' about anything, the equally inarticulate puppies are more satisfying to watch as they slump around aimlessly in their own cocoon of entitlement.

Newborn Puppies posted on You Tube by Chronicle Books 27 mar 2013

"Responsibility" in words, and then the Sad Reality About Literacy.

Incendiary found, advice pls (Post by 'panzer'',  Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:29 pm)
I was digging a belting signal in an open field, relatively remote, and started to come across blueish clumps of crytallised gunk, bit more clearance showed it to be a 1kg WW2 incendiary with a heavily damaged aluminium casing with a rather nice bronze tailfin still attached. I had my little one with me so decided to rebury it for another day. I am making an assumption that this has been soaking up rainwater for 60 yrs and is likely very much inert, well the crystals certainly didn't fire up when exposed to the air anyway. Whats the guidance on this? I feel a call to EOD would be an over reaction in this case? The tailfin would look rather nice on my mantlepiece though [emoticon]
Oh, oh, isn't their that aaaa, you no, woss it called? You no, that Codey fing... the Code of, of..., um, Responsible... yeah, thass it, Responsible Metaldetecting! Woss that say then? Bury it and hope nobody hits it when hoeing the spuds next year? Gor Blimey!

Vignette: 'Burning man', courtesy of a sawdust-for-brains-detectorist who can't follow even a simple code

Is this Really a 'Way Forward'?

I have on more than one occasion given an account of my concerns about the privately-owned UK Detector Finds database run since 1st September 2005 by a group of renegade tekkies in protest against the discussions then going on about the original official Code of Practice for Responsible metal Detecting in England and Wales. And yes, I said it would not survive as an informal body run on a shoestring by volunteers. It is still here, though, but in a vastly altered format. Gary Brun announced yesterday the launch of its newest incarnation, the new UKDFD. :

After going on about the 'successes' of the original voluntary scheme, they have decided to fund their costs by charging a subscription:
We have sought to spread the cost equitably across the various types of user, and minimise the impact on those who already pay to record. [...] All who wish to view the records and use the database will need to register and purchase a Membership Plan. These start at £15 per year. Those who also wish to record will need to buy a Recording Package. These start at £5.  [...] Further details of the subscription arrangements can be found on the new website.
So much then for the UKDFD as an alternative for the PAS.  I wonder how many tekkies support this as a way forward.

Let us note that this heritage paywall now involves all the 47000 items originally 'recorded' there under a different form of regulation- when the recorders thought the results of their work would be a permanent record visible to the general public for free. They must now feel cheated that the showcase has been removed from public view. In the same way, all those landowners who donated their property (the artefacts found on their land) to the finders on the understanding there would be an open access public record have been cheated - because the money generated by people accessing information about those objects is now going into the pockets of the UKDFD team, and not a penny to the landowner. Have they all been contacted to ask if they would like a cut of the proceeds?

In my opinion, this is a massive shot in the foot for the hobby. It is pretty startling to note that there are detectorists so "responsible", they'll pay more than fifteen quid a year  in order NOT to use the PAS as a form of legitimation-of-the-hobby-by-'recording'. That sends a pretty nasty message to Britain's main stakeholder community - the non-collecting public - that they'll have to PAY to see what the heritage pocketing Treasure hunters have taken from them. A non-public 'record' is information hidden from the public. I do rather think this move will ultimately go against the detecting community as a whole.

 It also suggests to me - unless I have missed something, and if so UKDFD organizers please enlighten us - that the 'Revised Code of Practice..." is now shown pretty conclusively not worth the paper it is printed on. And let us recall that it was from the publication of the original PAS/CBA 'code' that the UKDFD took its beginnings.

But maybe there is a message here for the PAS - start charging for membership packages for recorders. Why is it that you expect the public purse to pay your salaries and expenses, when the UKDFD shows that it can be done at the cost of the database users themselves? In 2016 there were 326,502 users of the PAS website, in addition to 10,633 registered users. If the PAS had membership packages at 15 quid a shout, they'd raise more than 5million quid for operational costs. That'd even pay for a proper Welsh PAS too. Maybe the UKDFD ("recording Our Heritafge for Future Generations') has shown Whitehall the way the PAS should be going. After all, each detectorist probably pays that much a year for batteries and petrol. All they need to do is put a few more duplicate collectable metal bits on eBay and they'll soon cover the costs - just look at the valuations in 'The Searcher'. Or perhaps the sum can be deducted from Treasure rewards. Why should the British public any longer foot the bill for the legitimation of collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological heritage by artefact hunters and pocketers?

Detectorist Supports Preventing Stakeholders Seeing what Collectors Take Behind a Paywall

'Partnership' buggered; Public screwed
 out of information about their
lost heritage
John Winter replies to my comment underneath the Gary Brun announcement on the pay-to-view-the-heritage-taken-from-you UK Detectorists Pocketed Finds Database:
John 20 January 2018 at 12:43 pm Yes. I wholeheartedly support this initiative and fail to see how it is a ‘shot in the foot’ The database is an alterative (sic) to the PAS and all credit too (sic) Gary Brun who has created one that is superior in many respects to what is currently available. Many detectorists use both means of recording. The records are not ‘hidden’. I hope Gary sees this and responds accordingly. You use emotive language to suit your own ends … how you can interpret this as a ‘scam’ is beyond me. But, par for the course and your negative comments were expected.
Records that are not publicly available are not a public record, are they? Heritage-pocketing artefact hunters are enriching their private collections at the expense of the heritage that belongs to all, and cannot claim that a private pay-to-view database showing some of what they have taken is any form of making that information available to anyone. It's just a commercial scheme, and yes the pretence that this is in any way "responsible" artefact hunting is a scam, A scam John. I would hope the PAS will creep outside their comfy comfort zone to comment on that aspect of it.

 So, can you (or Gary Brun) give us the statistics on the number of the 47000 objects that are now hidden from view are objects more than 300 years old and actually recorded on both the UKDFD and the PAS Database?

It is not difficult to be superior to the old UKDFD which was always rather clunky and dysfunctional. And yes, I do look at a pirate database created in order to (a) be a thorn in the side of the PAS, (b) scatter the data on pocketed material, and (c) provide a divisive 'alternative' ('by metal detectorists nur fur metal detectorists') with a critical eye. I also remember even if you have forgotten the manner in which UKDFD set out to sabotage the PAS forum by a trolling campaign - including posting doctored porn pictures on it (which they managed to succeed in - the forum was closed because their misbehaviour was costly to police and creating a bad impression in a public space of the detecting community).

Nur Fur Detectorists: The Red Pill about Artefact Hunters' "Contribution" to our Knowledge of the PASt

If we look at the pricing details for the use of the data entered in the past and currently on the UKFD we see that grabby detectorists with their smug feeling of entitlement think it is perfectly 'fair' to charge a member of the general public who's interested in seeing what a crotal bell looks like fifteen quid for the 'privilege'. But look at the red rectangle. The membership package for a 'professional' will cost them a hundred quid. That seems to be pretty symptomatic of the real degree to which artefact hunters are engaged in 'creating new knowledge about the past' through a partnership with archaeology.  Here's what they say about their entitlement to charge us for even seeing what has been pocketed from the archaeological record:

I have a better idea. Let archaeologists demonstrate to these patronising creeps their 'integrity' by simply boycotting their commercial database. That is entirely within the terms of the current Code of Conduct of several major archaeological bodies, to have nothing to do with extralegal commercial transactions involving decontextualised archaeological material. The very idea!

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

NCMD Feet-draggers Left Behind by New Code

Heritage Action note: 'There’s a new Metal Detecting Code! First, the excellent news…', the good news is that in drawing up the Revised Code last year, 'only those who have the welfare of archaeology in mind have drafted it'. Although, as they point out - given the nature of the 'partnership' called 'responsible metal detecting' - this was a pretty obvious arrangement,
it’s not something that was recognised as sensible in Britain until now. So could this herald a fundamental change in stewardship of the buried archaeological resource? Might the next step be something that’s been equally overdue: a letter from archaeologists to farmers explaining the realities of [collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record] without it being submitted for detectorists to edit, as previously demanded by their National Council? Could it be that the elephant has finally been thrown out of the room and off the backs of heritage professionals?
As the National Council of Metal Detectorists continues to drag its feet and take a back seat in the heritage debate, perhaps it is time for it to abandon its own 'close the gates' Code of Conduct for one which is far more in tune with the public interest. STOP taking our past. The past is not for pocketing.

Vignette: Stamping out best practice

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

James Fielding shoots his mouth off

To James Fielding, loud-mouth tekkie. I posted this on his 'Detecting is an Attitude' blog
In a comment on another blog you write: "I find it interesting how purveyors of BS always somehow shoot themselves in the foot at the onset" Your concern with "depth" however belies your own shallow approach - you failed to check what was the sentence following the fragment that in his blog piece your tekkie mate took OUT OF CONTEXT in the text to which you respond. I think it is rather you that shot yourself in the foot writing without actually checking what it is that is being discussed (and how). 

I would contest your hasty assessment that Dr Samuel Hardy is merely a 'purveyor of BS', the paper referred to carefully sets out the methods used and references the sources utilised for critical review. All the tekkies can do is write with insulting 'Daily Mail adjectivisation' - but without citing a SHRED of evidence that Hardy is in error. I think that is rather telling, even if you do not.
This is typical tekkkies seem to think that a belief repeated often enough becomes the truth. There are texts that raise uncomfortable questions about current policies on artefact hunting and collecting, so instead of examining the underlying premises of them (often set out in a form allowing that to be done), tekkies and collectors label them 'lies' and those raising the questions 'liars' and imagine the issue is resolved. I would say that such an approach in itself reveals that the criticism to which they have no substantive answers has merit.

 UPDATE 18th Jan 2016
No substantive arguments, so ad hominems are used as a substitute - in further comments the metal detectorists compare Dr Sam Hardy to 'cockroaches that come out at night'. Yes, as the blog's title has it, metal detecting is based on several attitudes, and one of them is disrespect, disrespect for the remains of the past that are merely pocketed and disrespect for people like Sam Hardy, Nigel Swift, myself and others who question the effects of these practices.  Metal detectorists are in general a disrespectful bunch of loud-mouthed, self-centred knowledge-thieves with a misplaced sense of entitlement.

Antiquities Market Kept Looking Licit by Silence on Collecting Histories?

Lynda Albertson in a recent post on the ARCA blog (IDs from the archives in the Michael Steinhardt and Phoenix Ancient Art seizures Posted: 16 Jan 2018) makes an interesting point about what really that  phrase the 'licit antiquities market' - much over-used in dealer and trade lobbyist circles - actually means in real terms:
It would be interesting to know, from the antiquities buyer's perspective, how many private investors of ancient art, having knowingly or unknowingly purchased illicit antiquities in the past only to later decide to facilitate a second round of laundering themselves, by culling the object from their collection and reselling the hot object on to another collector. By intentionally failing to disclose the name of a known tainted dealer these antiquities collectors avoid having to take any responsibility for the fact that they too have now become players in the game. While staying mum further facilitates the laundering of illicit antiquities, this option may be seen as far easier to collectors who have invested large sums into their collections than admitting they purchased something, unwisely or intentionally, with a less than pristine provenance pedigree. To admit to having bought something that potentially could be looted might bring about the loss of value to the asset. Furthermore by confirming that the antiquity has an illicit background as verified in these archives, would then render the object worthless on the licit art market.
Basically what that means is the pretence that a large part of the market in antiquities involves antiquities of licit origins involves a conspiracy of silence about those items where that status is in doubt.  

Monday, 15 January 2018

Discarded Roman Tombstone dug up in America

Tombstone of Tiberius Claudius Saturninus, a tax collector in the senatorial province of Achaea and freedman of the Emperor Claudius. Recently discovered in Westchester, New York, under the former mansion of Josiah Macy, John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil partner. 1st cent, The Met

Saturday, 13 January 2018

BBC considers whether to stop showing ivory on Antiques Roadshow

This would be a welcome move, the BBC is considering whether to stop showing ivory on the Antiques Roadshow as the government looks to a total ban on the material’s sale in the UK (Graham Ruddick, ' BBC considers whether to stop showing ivory on Antiques Roadshow' BBC, Tue 9 Jan 2018).
China has already outlawed all trade in ivory and the UK government is consulting on whether to follow suit as attempts to stop the poaching of elephants increase around the world. It is already illegal in the UK to sell ivory from elephants killed after 1947. Campaigners claim it creates a gap in the law allowing dealers to declare items as antiques without providing evidence of their age.
About 20,000 African elephants a year are slaughtered by poachers.  Then maybe they can impose a similar ban on the showing of the valuation of archaeological material and paperless antiquities from abroad.

Vignette: Quit showing ivories

Friday, 12 January 2018

More 'Cultural Property News'

The American   invites  readers to their imaginatively-named  'Cultural Property News', 'a new source of information on cultural property issues from us here at CCP!' Having glanced at what they offer so far, I think we may legitimately ask of this new venue, to what extent the ideas embodied behind the selection and presentation of the news stories are anytjhingh new. They seem to be the same old, same tired old things the ACCP has been saying all along, singing from the same songsheet as the ACCG, IAPN, PNG and all the rest of the sorry band of self-centred advocates for a free-for-all and no-questions-asked market.

In any case, what is meant by the adjective 'new' is actually a euphemism for 'hardly read', the first post was made by Kate Fitz Gibbon just under a year ago, January 31, 2016. Anyway, take a look at how these people present their case and decide for yourself who they are and what they represent.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Give the Dog a Biscuit

Washington DC coiney tries to tell the Old World how to rediscover the wheel. Cultural Property Observer tries hard to make an impression by showing he 'knows things'

Duh. As every schoolkid should know, the Roman conquest of Britain was initiated by the Julio-Claudian emperor Claudius - so well after the Republic.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

No Shame: Antiquities Collector Barry B. Bastard Will Always Dodge the Real Question

Another of those substantive comments Peter Tompa will not allow on his 'Cultural Property Observer' blog, preferring lowbrow sniping from metal detectorist John Howland. He is complaining that CBS is making a fictional series ('Blood and Treasure') centred around (it seems) stopping a lone terrorist raising money for his activities by selling looted antiquities ('CPO considers the series as yet another effort to confuse "entertainment" with "news" to promote an anti-collecting crusade. CPO has criticized CBS for promoting "fake news" about values of ISIS loot'):
There you go again making your unsubstantiated claims. In your email you say CBS says that Apamea was looted by ISIL. In fact, if we check that video (still, unfortunately for you online at 1:16) the point being made is that the global antiquities trade, which ISIL has tapped into looks like a 'crime ring' which is why the ISIL participation is difficult to police. That is the point being made, and you misrepresent it. If you value your reputation as a competent 'observer', you should correct your mistake.
Of course Mr Tompa's 'reputation' relies precisely on making such claims. Note the bit: 'we want to shame the buyers, we want to [...] make that even more underground and then find out who's doing it, and bring them to justice'. Do you see any 'shame' among US collectors involved in the open purchase of items potentially supplied by 'criminal rings', whoever is behind them? I don't.

Barry B. Bastard Collects Antiquities

I missed this one when it came out: Thompson, Erin L., "But We Didn't Steal It:" Collectors' Justifications for Purchasing Looted Antiquities. Source: Journal of Art Crime Spring 2015, Issue 13, p59-67.
Abstract: This article looks at beliefs of collectors about archeology and antiquities in order to explain why modern collectors are willing to tolerate a certain amount of illegality in the process of getting antiquities from the ground to their collections. These justifications for purchasing potentially looted artifacts work by providing reasons to explain why the collector is a better owner for the antiquity than the government of its country of origin. The justifications fall into in two main strands: first, that country of origin does not deserve to own the antiquity; and second, that the collector possesses some special power of understanding of the object that gives him or her the right to own it.
The first is what we see throughout the productions of people like Peter Tompa and the Ms Fitz-Gibbon of the ACCP, while the second can be seen on some of he discussion lists and blogs where collectors discuss the objects they have obtained as trophies.

Vignette: Self-centred bastards and their self-delusions are also on display in the collectors' world

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Metal Detectorist Detained in Southern Turkey

Security forces in Turkey's southern Mersin province have detained a smuggler who allegedly carried out an unauthorized excavation and was trying to sell the artefacts abroad (Daily Sabah, 'Man trying to smuggle over 200 Byzantine-era artifacts detained in southern Turkey', Daily Sabah 8th Jan 2017). Had he previously sold items to a dealer near you?
Upon receiving intelligence, gendarmerie forces in Mersin's Tarsus district carried out a raid on the suspect's house and discovered 196 artifacts from the Byzantine period and 60 coins from the same period. A detector and a detector vest, and digging tools were confiscated during the raids. The artifacts and tools were confiscated by security forces, reports said. The suspected smuggler was detained and legal proceedings were launched against him.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

US dealers selling Human Remains as 'Collectables' Again

These people are just sick. Another Manhattan dealer (no prizes for guessing which one) has been profiting from the sale of stolen human remains smuggled to the United States (Callum Paton, 'Ancient Egyptian Mummy's Skull and Dismembered Hands to be Returned to Egypt 90 Years After Being Taken to the U.S' Newsweek, 3rd January 2018).
The skull and two dismembered hands are to be returned to Egypt following an intervention by U.S. investigators, who prevented an American dealer from selling the contraband to a buyer in Manhattan [...]  The ancient body parts appear to have been bought by an American in Egypt in 1927 [...]  in the country’s southern city of Luxor [...] Throughout the first half the 20th century in Egypt and beyond the looting of ancient tombs and monuments was rife. Often western collectors viewed the artefacts as little more than souvenirs.
What does a collector 'do' with something like thins in a glass case in g=his 'den'? I hardly see they can claim to be using it for any kind of 'citizen archaeological reseach'. It is just a gruesome trophy, probably used as some kind of macho-man display which is totally inappropriate manner to treat the mortal remains of another human being. Collectors who do this sort of thing are just animals.

Utah Education and the Taliban

This is an eyebrow-raising story from the US, which puts some comments in the US media on the  destruction by Islamicist of elements of the cultural partimony they find offensive int a bit of perspective. A parent called police after discovering that a teacher showed nude paintings by Modigliani and Ingres during an art history lesson (Sarah Cascone, 'Utah Elementary School Fires Art Teacher for Showing Students ‘Pornographic’ Paintings' ArtNet News January 2, 2018). Utah art teacher Mateo Rudea was fired by a Utah School after parents objected to his showing sixth-grade (ages 11–12) students post cards of historical paintings, four of which included nudity (Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Amedeo Modigliani, Francois Boucher, and Agnolo Bronzino), They
were part of a set of postcards that depicted 100 art-historical works, reproduced by Phaidon and called the Art Box. It had been purchased as a teaching tool by the school some years ago, [...] [and] features Leonardo da Vinci‘s Mona Lisa and other famous works by Paul Klee, Claude Manet, Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Gauguin, J.M.W. Turner, and Vincent van Gogh.  [...] After students spotted the nudes, Rueda took back the cards in question and explained to the class that “‘when you grow up, you’re going to find yourselves going to museums or to places where unavoidably there’s going to be nudity.'”
Or in the bathroom. And just think, such 'pornography' is being openly sold by Amazon with no warning that its only for adults or contains 'explicit images'.

Some parents complained of “classroom pornography” and, within days, Rueda was suspended and then asked to resign. He refused, and was promptly fired.
 An anonymous complaint from a parent also brought the Cache County Sheriff’s Office to the scene. At the school, principal Jeni Buist was found destroying the pictures of nude works from the Art Box and other publications in the school library. 

Rueda said he will appeal his termination. 
“I explained to the whole class that art can sometimes show images that are not always comfortable to all, that art is better understood when placed in its proper context, that the human body is often portrayed in art, and that the images in the school collection are icons of art history and a patrimony of humanity.” As of press time, Rueda, principal Buist, country school district human resources director Kirk McRae, and sheriff Jensen had not responded to artnet News’s request for comment.
Probably out somewhere destroying more images in case kids will see them.

Utah parents, how many have taken their kids to a proper art museum,
or even sat down with them to look through an art book? How many even have one?

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Important Archaeological Pieces Are Returned to Costa Rica

Laura Alvarado, 'Important Archaeological Pieces Are Returned to Costa Rica' The Costa Rica Star December 30, 2017
Nearly 200 Pre-Columbian stone and ceramic artefacts are being returned to Costa Rica after having been taken out of the country to Venezuela illegally. Among the items are two stone spheres; two metates; sculptures of human figures, among many other historic pieces from three different regions in the country, the Central –Atlantic Zone, the North Pacific-Guanacaste Area and Diquis, Osa.
All pieces were found in a mansion in Venezuela, property of Harry Mannil Laul, a known collector who used to travel a lot between both countries. Mannil passed away in 2010 in his house in San Rafael de Heredia, Costa Rica and in this residence the authorities also confiscated over 100 pre-Columbian objects. In this same year, Venezuelan customs authorities confiscated 56 pieces that had 'New York, USA' as a last destination, as a result of this Mannil’s house was searched in 2011. The authorities found a “small museum” in the house and it was subject to two more searches that took place in 2015. In order for this archeological treasure to be returned to the country the National Museum had to invest over US $22,000.00; the process was completed with the help of the consul of Costa Rica to Venezuela, Ana Patricia Villalobos and in cooperation with the National Gallery and the Cultural Heritage Institute of Venezuela. Villalobos stated that the return of the lot is of great significance to the country not just because of the large number of pieces but also because some of them are unique and there are no similar ones in the country.
Collectors often claim they are preserving history, but in cases like these it can be seen what they are really doing is selfishly hoarding for themselves and thereby depriving others of their history (destroyed in the looting) and cultural heritage. Note also how much the effort to sort out the mess left by a single dead collector concerning just a part of his collection. Here the lack of papers responsibly documenting collecting histories is a significant factor.

The Estonian businessman Harry Männil (May 17, 1920 – January 11, 2010), also known as Harry Mannil Laul[a], was a controversial figure in his lifetime, mainly connected with unproven allegations about what he was involved in during the 1940s Nazi occupation of Estonia.

Monday, 1 January 2018

In 2018, Nobody is Going to Defend Collectors' Shallow-brain Dullard Arguments Either

As we all know, Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record (CDAR) is a growing and serious problem worldwide, those involved in it thumb their noses at the rest of us as they clandestinely pocket evidence that could be used to tell us about the past for their own selfish needs.

Most of them are simple folk with a strong herd instinct. They think it is enough to resolve any conflict for one of the more literacy-able members of their number (and as we have seen articulacy and literacy are characteristically rare in the community as a whole across the western world) to scribble some issue-dodging 'justifications' which they then unreflexively chant in unison as some form of protective mantras. The arguments that convince them are expected as a matter of course to convince the rest of the thinking world that Collection Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record is in the public interest, benign, harmless, even helpful in some way.

Back in 2005, Rod Blunt, on the back of the discussion about the original Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales (which was and still is largely rejected by British artefact hunters) wrote a text called Metal Detecting – The Hobby and its Detractors ['lies, damn lies and the hobby of metal detecting']. It is still being trundled out today by other detectorists as the last word. The problem is that this text does not actually address the issue at hand, it represents looting of artefacts as a form or rescue (in Syria from 'ISIL', in England 'from the soil') without addressing the main issue of what is lost in such a form of exploitation... which is of course the main point.

Such a pars pro toto form of justification remains just that, a pseudo justification which is hardly the basis for any sensible form of discussion. It will of course raise other questions, the other concerns need to be addressed. I raised a few of them more than seven years ago here. Here the shallow explainers have a problem, they really have no answer to those other concerns, the one they were intending to dodge anyway. So what is their response? Look:

This is why there is no point in even listening to the arguments of the collectors, they are not going to listen to you. There of course was noting 'obnoxious' in what I wrote. I merely pointed out further issues that Mr Blunt had failed in 2005 to address, he did not address them in 2011 and will fail, I am 100% sure, to address them right through 2018 and beyond. Metal detectorists like John Winter can continue to ignore these questions but they will not go away.

Note the two characteristics of that title by the way, the original form read 'lies, damn lies and the hobby of metal detecting' - the suggestion that anybody who expresses any concerns about Collection Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record is necessarily a 'liar' is typical of the school-playground speak engaged in by these folk. It is also an alienation tactic, group identity is bolstered by opposing the enlightened insiders with an 'other' who 'lies about/does not really understand us'. This is why they do everything that they can to keep critically-minded outsiders out of their  forums, discussion lists Facebook pages. The claim is that since they 'cannot understand what we do', their concerns are in some way invalid. I do not understand, I admit, adult blokes who try to get their grubby hands up little girls' skirts or what they do with those hands when they do - that does mean that I should not be in any way concerned about it. Secondly note the use of that word 'detractors', this suggests this is just some kind of criticism of a person (or group of people) rather than an activity. The use of ad personam arguments is rife among collectors. They are easy, even Donald Trump can manage them, so a metal detectorist can too. Mr Blunt's text would be more convincing if he'd given it the title that is needed, let us say: 'Metal Detecting – The Hobby and the concerns raised about it'. Can he do that? Or is that beyond him? Mr Winter, perhaps you'd like to have a go? Or are we going to go through 2018 with everybody dancing impotently around the central questions about Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record with preciously pursed lips and their hands over their ears?

European Year of Cultural Heritage

 The coming year will be  the European Year of Cultural Heritage
Article 1
Subject matter
1.   The year 2018 shall be designated as the ‘European Year of Cultural Heritage’ (‘European Year’).
2.   The purpose of the European Year shall be to encourage the sharing and appreciation of Europe's cultural heritage as a shared resource, to raise awareness of common history and values, and to reinforce a sense of belonging to a common European space.
Article 2
1.   The general objectives of the European Year shall be to encourage and support the efforts of the Union, the Member States and regional and local authorities, in cooperation with the cultural heritage sector and broader civil society, to protect, safeguard, reuse, enhance, valorise and promote Europe's cultural heritage. 
with regard some of the ideas expressed in the preamble, see also: 'Culture as Driver for EU Unity'. The European Commission has launched a communication campaign for the Year, including a slogan ‘Our Heritage. Where the past meets the future’, a logo, which is available in all EU languages, and the official hashtag #EuropeForCulture. It must be commented though that the whole campaign seems focused more on the present uses of the cultural heritage for our own ex tempore needs, and seems to play merely lip service to the idea that future generations should be receiving it in a form usable for theirs.

Cultural heritage creates growth and jobs in cities and regions and is central to Europe's exchanges with the rest of the world. 7.8 million jobs in the EU are indirectly linked to heritage (e.g. in tourism, interpretation and security). Over 300,000 people are employed in the EU cultural heritage sector, and with 453 inscribed sites, Europe as a region accounts for almost half of UNESCO's World Heritage List.

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