Saturday, 17 March 2018

UK Detectorists are Not in it for the Munny, Unless they are

"I met the guys who found the Crosby Garret mask and they both metal detect full time, lots and lots of research, lots of door knocking and absolutely no random land digging, they just target known or suspected hot spots based on historical research and have made some fantastic finds, including hoards, swords, etc, enough to make a living."
'Lots and lots of research' translated does not mean 'citizen archaeology' as Bloomsbury would have people believe, it really means locate known and suspected sites and target them to fill their pockets.  Those hoards and swords are 'enough to make a living'.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Ivory, Like Antiquities Laundered by leap-frog Shipping

The antiquities trade operates in a similar manner, actual origins of dodgy objects from weakened source countries are obscured by shipping through several intermediaries: Ivory traffickers can make up to $1.3m for a single shipment. Find out how they get the tusks from Africa and onto the black market in China The Economist (@TheEconomist) 14 marca 2018

Video: the Economist

Metal detectin' in Hi-vis: Look Like an Arkie [UPDATED]

The seven posts in the thread thread 'Civil war battlesites' on a metal detecting forum near you, where the PAS never go, can hardly be said to be epitomes of responsible Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record and best practice (post by chrisbham » Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:34 pm) [PS see update, here is the cached version]: 
Hi all, So (sic) I was having a wonder (sic) down a public footpath boarding (sic) my new permission and up walks a guy and asks what I found (sic) etc. I didn't know who he was so stressed I wasn't detecting in that specific area as it wasn't my permission. Long story short, lots of the surround (sic) land is his and he offers me permission for his land (which is packed with REALLY interesting history) and we exchange details, which includes a (sic) undetected civil war battlesite where only he has had a swing himself and found musket balls around. I've found reports online about the battle which from the archaeological report which also states no official metal detecting survey has been completed. Legally am I allowed to detecting on the battlefield field? It's on private land, but is a registered battle site with public foot paths. Besides the legality of it I wouldn't want others seeing me there with a detector and assume it's a free for all so perhaps a hi-vis to look official? Advise? Cheers
Detecting on battlefields... rings a bell, doesn't it? Best practice... ummm....

Another one using archaeological reports to target areas from which to grab artefacts for their collection. How ironic he's worried at drawing attention of other artefact hunters (that's the ones that absolutely cannot read, I guess) to this known site.

UPDATE 16.03.16

If you follow the link I gave you'll now see this:
Information The requested topic does not exist.
The Tekkie thought-police have been active again.I think the idea is to get rid of the incriminating evidence that UKtekkiedom is not actually, really, the nice citizeny-archaeologyish thing that it is incessantly portrayed as, but how telling it is that even the moderators of this hotbed of pretend-responsibility cannot actually spot a dodgy post on their own forum until a helpful archaeoblogger points it out to them. 

Heritage Metal Theft: It’s Time to Challenge and Ask the Right Questions

It's time for all dealers to step up and question the materials that are arriving at their gates; turning a blind eye is not acceptable (Nicola Guest (Director, Alchemy Metals Ltd) 'It’s Time to Challenge and Ask the Right Questions ') that goes for roofing lead as well as metal detected objects.
Even if the seller appears to have a genuine reason for being in possession of the material, don't accept it at face-value, question it. Request a letter of approval from the source of the lead. Hold the materials in quarantine until such confirmation is received. We do this as standard and have never received anything other than support from the sellers of these materials. If the seller questions this process, it's time to call the police.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Bogdanos and the looters

Col. Matthew Bogdanos (Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, author of "Thieves of Baghdad") will present a free lecture at the Penn Museum this Friday, 16-Mar-2018 at 12:00 pm, in the Penn Museum exploring the Islamic State’s trafficking in looted antiquities: ISIS & Antiquities Trafficking: Al-Qaeda 2.0 Oh well, and a month later I'll be saying what I think about that concept in England. I'll not be in uniform.

MOTB as Propaganda

Jill Hicks-Keeton went to a recent MOTB-related event in a Baptist church ('What the Museum of the Bible Conveys about Biblical Scholarship Behind Church Doors' Religion and Politics March 13, 2018).
The MOTB masquerades as an educational institution, all the while quietly partnering with organizations like Johnston’s Christian Thinkers Society who are able to do the work the MOTB’s official mission statement precludes museum officials from doing directly. What we are left with is a mutually beneficial pseudo-academic partnership. What we are left with is a museum pretending to be something it’s not, an evangelical wolf in scholarly sheep’s clothing—whose officials are more than happy to stand by, and even encourage, slippage around what the aims and claims of biblical scholarship actually are. It is not a pretty picture.
What I do not understand is the apparent US fixation on the theme of text transmission.

Operation to Smuggle Iraqi Artefacts out of the Country.Thwarted

Breaking: Iraq's military intelligence announce that they've thwarted a major operation to smuggle Iraqi artefacts out of the country.
 In a statement, it said that in continuation of its approach to carrying out effective counter-attacks to track out lawbreakers, drug dealers, counterfeiters and smugglers, and to arrest them and bring them to justice, military intelligence officers, in a proactive and courageous operation in cooperation with the economic security in Wasit province, managed to penetrate a gang to smuggle antiquities A smuggling operation for relics and the arrest of smugglers in a tight container. She added that the smugglers were surrounded in the district of Nu'maniyah in Wasit province and the two wheels used in the smuggling operation with the smugglers after hiding the effects in a way that does not raise suspicion, but will not fool the military intelligence officers who were monitoring the movements of smugglers first Powell. She noted that a collection of rare antiquities was found inside the two wheels, including 22 archaeological pieces in the form of rare statues dating back to antiquity, 6 pieces of stones called rare stone and precious stones, " The experts estimated the value of the smuggled effects tens of millions of dollars, and smugglers have been referred to the judiciary in accordance with the provisions of Article 44 / Q Law Antiquities No. 55 of 2002.]\
Lawbreakers, drug dealers, counterfeiters and smugglers, and antiquities dealers. Collector: do you know whose hands your artefacts passed through?

Trump sacks Tillerson as US Secretary of State

Trump sacks Tillerson as secretary of state 
US President Donald Trump has sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, replacing him with the director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo. [...]  Mr Tillerson, a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, was only appointed to the job just over a year ago. [...] Mr Tillerson was reported to be astonished at how little Mr Trump grasped the basics of foreign policy.  

Monday, 12 March 2018

Commonwealth Day

Comment by Rob

UK Heritage Professional, "Raising Conservation Concerns = Bullying"

Benjamin Westwood has an FB avatar figuring a Greek Red Figure vase showing Europa and the bull that crystallized from the tears of a captive bezoar goat in the Munich Antiquities Elves magical underground antiquities creation facility from which such things "surface" onto the market. He comments RESCUE's reposting of the Heritage Action text on PAS failing to discourage archaeological site erosion:
My reply:
Where do you see "bullying" Benjamin? HA raise what seem to me to be perfectly valid questions. Why does PAS so rarely express opposition to the depletion of sites by those who mine the same fields for objects to collect over and over again (especially when it is a site already known on the HER)? Why doesn’t the Code of Practice mention it and the need to do it in a manner that creates a systematic record addressed to the specific conservation needs of that site? Why are archaeologists 'getting comfy with site eroders“? Why do archaeologists backslap artefact hunters at mass, repeated rallies and constantly smile at detectorists as if they approve of what they’re doing when they don’t? Is asking questions like that "bullying", or is it just asking questions that need to be asked about Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record, Benjamin?
In reply to the 'better-than-nothing' minimalism that it seems to me Mr Westwood's apparent lack of concern reflects, I added:
Paul Barford Is it really 'just' the legal framework which determines best practice? Or do you accept that the latter (in most things) goes beyond just doing the mere minimum required by law?
What a rough, uncouth bully am I to ask such questions of a Greek Red-Figure vase lover.

But what a jolly good jape, eh? Merely label as "bullies" those who ask questions of the group you belong to, and thereby label the questions they ask "bullying", and you avoid answering them. Simples. Replace reasoned and informed public discussion by simplistic platitudes, and very soon public debate founders, and the end result is that the whole country rapidly slides into rabid-bonkers Brexit-suicide mode....

PAS to Call in Exorcists?

A PAS FLO unsuccessfully tried last week to engage the help of the British police to block discussions of heritage issues and archaeological implications involved in Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record. Since that proved to be a fruitless effort, and the 'evil, thieving, lying' preservationists will still not fold under pressure, I have had it suggested to me that the pro-collecting lobby may be considering reaching for stronger measures.

Alternatively, instead of shying away from wider debate about the effects of Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record, perhaps those who are employed to protect it, study it and present the results of their deliberations to the wider public really should be engaging with these issues.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Regulation of Antiquities Market a Must

'Conflict antiquities trafficking affects the development of conflicts and can't be suppressed with measures against particular organisations. To cut illicit flows of antiquities and finances, we need policing and regulation of the conflict antiquities market'

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Questions a FLO Still Cannot Answer?

The FLO local to my family home, or an 'informant' operating on her behalf, was apparently in a Colchester police station on Saturday afternoon making what the officer handling the case called 'allegations' about this blog and this archaeoblogger. I have yet to hear anything concrete about these allegations. From what the PC said, I gather that they may be connected with my post mirroring one by Heritage Action. This concerned PAS staff smiling as they handle finds from erosive Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record while they can be aggressively- inclined towards those that ask questions about what, precisely, they are achieving. Ms Flynn declined to put forward her own take on what we both said about this when invited to do so on 5th March (I also cordially invited her to my seminar just down the road from her on April 11th to discuss it further face to face, she refused). Instead she has apparently decided to try to make archaeological colleagues debating the heritage a police matter (!). I am reminded of an exchange I had just a few months ago with the same young lady where she demonstrated herself to be utterly unable to explain the logic behind what she wrote about portable antiquities. She had a go at making a patronising reply to my request that she address a point I had made, and recognizing that Twitter is not the easiest venue in which to put forward more complex thoughts and reflections (I assumed she had some) I invited her here. I still do. Here is my post from just before Christmas last year: ' Sophie Flynn (Essex FLO) is Invited to Tell me What's What...' PACHI 17th December 2017. I think these are not questions a FLO should leave unanswered. If the Essex FLO is unable to answer a public question, maybe any other of the 34 FLOs paid from the public purse to do proper public outreach on portable antiquities (in which the whole public is a stakeholder) would like to step in and do her job for her. There is plenty of space in the comments below, and I will publish each and every comment from a PAS FLO (past or present) as-written. Any takers?
☺️Here, Sophie, is a space for you. Send me your comments and I will publish them in full. [emoticon] 

Yesterday, Ms Flynn posted on Twitter some fluff about the TV series 'Detectorists' suggesting that the 'star', McKenzie Crook should mention the PAS and how they are there to 'help',

Given that most of the objects they record now come from Collection Driven Exploitation of the finite and fragile archaeological record by artefact hunting metal detectorists, I tweeted her with a perfectly valid question:

Now, I'll give her her dues. Most FLOs would run a mile from such a question from me. They prefer patting tekkies on the head and posting their finds up on Twitter with cutesey texts (any day now we'll have the 'Twelve days of Christmas' finds going up - HOW many "gold rings"?). Anyway, she tried:
19 godzin temu
‘Help’ with the admistration of the Act, ‘help’ people discover more about their local history and heritage, ‘help’ responsible detectorisrs understand the opportunities they can bring to the study of archaeology... the list goes on Paul, but I shan’t bore you [smiley emoticon]

FLOs do not read this blog, so they do not know what position I occupy on precisely these issues. That would explain why an otherwise intelligent girl (I trust) gave such a dumbdown answer. So what is she trying to say...  and does not what she said raise more questions than she answered? I replied in several tweets:
23 minuty temu
Forgive me if I am wrong, but surely the PAS was set up 20 years ago not to deal with Treasure, which the Act establishes goes through other channels, but to deal with NON-Treasure material. Somehow that distinction seems to be lost - with Treasure now being reported twice

Meaning in the Treasure Reports (which is what the Treasure Act requires) and the PAS database, which is extralegal, not in the Act, duplicates effort and information and merely serves to bulk out 'finds reported' numbers. As for her second point...
38 minut temu
W odpowiedzi do There's more to "local heritage and heritage" than a few loose coins pulled out of a field somewhere. We left the object-centric view of the past in about 1870 - PAS promotes a very atavistic 'view of the past', don't you think? Not a boring question - quite a fundamental one.

The third issue is indeed a pretty fundamental one, not only about the terminology, but the loopy ideas hiding behind it...
36 minut temu
W odpowiedzi do What is "responsible", please, about any form of *Collection Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record*? Can looting in Syria, Egypt etc be made "responsible' by installing a PAS-clone in Damascus or Edfu? Or Central America? Fundamental question, have you an answer?

I think she must have, as she apparently has no qualms about working with these people (because she took the job). Will she be bold enough to share it with us?  Then those alleged opportunities which supposedly mitigate the huge damage done:
37 minut temu
W odpowiedzi do What "opportunities" does Collection-Driven Exploitation of the basic body of evidence by rough and ready means (eg carrier bags and wallpaper scrapers in fading light at Lenborough) "bring to the study of" real archaeology? Most metal detected finds are NOT reported, as we all know

So, even the 'opportunities' she (apparently) sees have been offset by a far larger number of missed 'opportunities' and this has been going on for twenty years.  And to conclude, her parting comment
37 minut temu
W odpowiedzi do " I shan’t bore you [emoticon]".I assure you, you will not bore me if you give proper answers to my questions, its the superficial ones which we've all heard mindlessly chanted like a mantra so many times before that are the boring and intellectually bankrupt ones.

36 minut temu
W odpowiedzi do I invite you to make use of my blog's comments section for a proper reply, no space on Tewitter:

Right, start holding your breath... now. No, don't. She's probably awaiting instructions from Bloomsbury.

Another PAS 'Liaison' First

10th March 2018, 18:23  from PC 2111 Matt Noone,  Colchester Police station, Southway, Colchester. Guess who and why?
"[...] I am not saying you are guilty of any offences, but wanted you to be aware this matter has been reported to the Police. [...] and this allegation has been crimed under reference 42/30727/18". [...] This investigation will be filed now, but this email will be kept on record and can be used in any future criminal proceedings.  Kind regards [...]
So, the lady has earned me a police record - for heritage blogging. The policeman is right, I am not guilty of any offence at all, and the museum lady was merely wasting police time in what looks like a personal vendetta. But she sees this as relating to her work at PAS and the Museum, and as such this represents the PAS taking 'escalation' to whole new heights.

I presume I have the right to learn the content of this allegation deposited in a public record and respond accordingly. I'll contact PC Noone on Monday and ask him about his opinion on metal detectorists and people wasting police time. Meanwhile I have been "advised" by Colchester police NOT
to make any more comments about [the Essex FLO] on your blog, so that you dont (sic) put yourself in a position where any more allegations can be made against you.  
'The allegations may be false, but don't write anything....'. That, too, takes PAS heritage gatekeeping to new levels. As far as I know, this is the first time anyone has tried to get the police to intervene in the heritage debate anywhere (oh, perhaps Amritsar). What next? The Army and RAF?

As it happens, I came home to that message from the UK police straight from a political demonstration in the capital against the manipulations of the ultra-conservative government of my country where a smallish group of us armed just with white roses had a face-off just now with 4000 uniformed police, unknown numbers of plain clothes officers inserted among the protesters and at least two snipers. This time, no arrests were made, it seems the police are tiring of following orders.

Castle Square, Warsaw 10th March 2018, 20:22 PM
(photo PMB, but please use it if you want, nobody
here has any reason to be ashamed, we are all doing
what we consider to be the right thing to do)

Really, UK, PAS, Colchester and Ipswich Museums and Essex FLO, the heritage debate is not a police matter. Get used to it. Heritage is who we are. Who are you?

Don't eat the Road-kill: Star-Gazer Kosher?

'you shall not eat any 
 flesh that is torn of beasts in 
 the field; you will cast it to the dogs'.

Sam Hardy has a go at unravelling the complicated and obscure collecting history of the Kiliya/tepegöz figurine/statuette, the so-called 'Guennol Star-Gazer' (The antiquity of the Guennol Stargazer – legal, looted, fake? 9th March 2018) which Turkey are trying to get back from Christie’s auction house and collector-seller Michael Steinhardt. After being found in Turkey (it's not clear where exactly, and possibly in a group with other objects) the object mysteriously surfaces in the USA.
 There, the stargazer passed from the family collection (the Guennol Collection) of tennis player Alastair Bradley Martin and embroiderer Edith Park Martin (also discussed as Alastair Martin and Edith Martin), to the Merrin Gallery, then to hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt.
Hardy attempts to work out whose hands it passed through and how in its shadowy past. Of course if collectors paid as much attention to preserving the legitimating paperwork as they did to the legitimating patina (excessive deposits on the surface), there would be no need for anyone to attempt any reconstruction or engage in speculation. 

The only kosher antiquities are those that have documentation leaving no reasonable doubt that they are clean, all the rest are nevelah by dint of being 'torn' from that context of fitness (trefne in Polish).

Note an interesting fact, the moment somebody says 'fake', even if that is followed by a question mark, and you see this odd, doll-like thing again after not looking at it a while, you do start to think it looks rather odd and doll-like and 'almost too good to be true', which on the unpapered-antiquities market often means that it is. Maybe that is why successive collectors sold it on. More fool the risk-taker that buys such a thing without the paperwork. 

Tackling Heritage Crime

Historic England, 'Tackling Heritage Crime'  Heritage Calling blog, 6th March  2018
We define Heritage Crime as ‘any offence which harms the value of England’s heritage assets and their settings to this and future generations.’ Threats include metal theft, criminal damage like arson, illicit trade of cultural objects and unlawful metal detecting.
As I recall, in 2017 there were dozens of reports of historical churches losing their lead roofs, several historical mills went up in flames, the Internet and UK antiquities shops were full of unpapered artefacts of suspicious nature and the site of the Staffordshire hoard and other 'hot spots' was still being visited by trespassing artefact hunters with metal detectors and spades. And how many convictions were there for any of these? How many convictions have there been in the UK for illicit trade of cultural objects in the past decade? Eh? ['ping' - pin drops]

Here the boys in blue claim to be 'raising awareness' of heritage crime... I cannot see how prancing around in fancy dress stops metal theft, arson or the illicit trade in antiquities - or illegal metal detecting either (Historic [sic] England

The Prospect of Transparency and Accountability is Rattling the NY Antiquities Trade

Will New York district attorney’s new unit clean up the antiquities market—or shut it down? (Laura Gilbert, 'Tough new scrutiny by district attorney rattles New York antiquities trade' Art Newspaper 9th March 2018).
Over the past year, the Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance has stepped up seizures of allegedly looted artefacts, some worth millions of dollars, with highly publicised raids targeting the billionaire collector Michael Steinhardt, Phoenix Ancient Art gallery and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There may be more to come: in December, Matthew Bogdanos, the assistant district attorney (DA) leading the charge, was granted a dedicated antiquities trafficking unit. He now has as many as 40 open cases, including some concerning well-known collectors, according to a figure familiar with the investigations.  [...] one effect of the DA’s actions is clear: an increasingly jittery antiquities market. “New York is now upside-down. No one knows what’s going to happen”, says a market participant who, like others, requested anonymity for fear of drawing Bogdanos’s attention. “The veil of privacy on personal holdings has been opened”, says William Pearlstein, a lawyer who has represented others who have had antiquities seized. “The high end of the antiquities market is fairly narrow, with a limited number of dealers selling to a limited number of collectors”. The fact that the warrants have been served on not just dealers, but also collectors and museums indicates Bogdanos “has a good snapshot of who owns what”, he says. 
And of course in the case of objects which are part of the heritage of us all, kept sequestered away in private caches, it is time for that 'veil of privacy on personal holdings' to be  rent asunder and torn down. The antiquities market is a swamp that needs draining. Laura Gilbert continues:
[R]ather than bringing a civil suit to determine the legal owner of the objects, Bogdanos is using the criminal process, apparently trying to build cases that could result in prison time. The search warrant for Michael Steinhardt’s residence, for example, sought computers, mobile phones and documents that could uncover the names of his potential “co-conspirators” and “accomplices” and the “modus operandi of the crime of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the First Degree”.
Rick St Hilaire notes:
Under NY criminal law, a dealer is presumed to know that a stolen object is in fact stolen when he/she deals in that kind of object. So receiving stolen property prosecutions against dealers in looted antiquities is easier in NY.

Vignette: Cyrus Vance Jnr 

PAS Not Only needs to Apologise, But Start Taking Heritage Protection Seriously

I endorse this wholeheartedly (Heritage action, 'PAS: apology awaited' Heritage Journal 10th March 2018). Readers may recall that there was an incident  with an FLO on the 5th of March who apparently thought threatening behaviour and 'escalation' were appropriate techniques of liaison and dispute resolution. To judge from her subsequent actions, it seems she is still of that opinion when it comes to her colleagues, though the whole question behind this difference of opinion is how the same people relate to collectors who pocket the past:
 A Finds Liaison Officer has called us thieves: “As someone who I know is keen to mitigate the ‘theft’ of the historic environment, it would be a shame to show any sort of hypocrisy when it comes to theft of another’s digital content after all.” It’s nonsense. We’re perfectly entitled to have published a small part of an image that was already in the public domain. But what really upsets us is that we’ve been fighting massive information theft by detectorists since before most FLOs left school yet we’re falsely accused of theft whereas detectorists constantly publish PAS images with never a squeak of protest! 
Please note the scare quotes on the word theft, presumably if you are an FLO you are not allowed to  conceptualise the Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record as in any way relating to one group of people taking something away from another.

HA point out that all the while PAS are busy 'looking at the pictures' and reacting to something they see on HA's blog within hours, they have been highlighting clear cases of abuse and observing the total lethargy with which that is treated by the PAS and archaeological community as a whole. Not even a tut-tut, but instead an embarrassed silence and shuffling of feet. After all, these collectors are the people Bloomsbury calls 'partners' and Bloomsbury even tries (falsely) to convince the public stakeholder that collection-driven pilferers of the past are in some way only 'citizen archaeologists'. In their post, HA they quote an example of not-best practice (not for the first time) and challenge the chair-bound PAS to get up off their backsides and do something about it on the ground. Don't hold your breath though.
 For the avoidance of all doubt: we are a non-profit making voluntary conservation body being threatened with a £200 publication charge yet we’ve stolen nothing and earned nothing while PAS’s “partners” have stolen massive amounts of heritage knowledge and earned tens of millions of pounds – as PAS knows very well! An apology from PAS Head Office would be nice.
They then picture a Wildlife Liaison Officer and suggest that these officers exhibit professional behaviour that’s a world away from his Finds equivalent. Having myself had the dubious pleasure of  contact with the 'professional' concerned and an official in the museum that employs her, I am inclined to agree.

Vignette: Anger management issues? Seek help. 

Museum Pimping* FLO Sophie-Pics? [Updated]

Nieszczęsna kobitka
It seems that in Bonkers Britain, the Museum where you work can sign an agreement where you give them full and exclusive rights to your face to exploit to make money from. Here is my letter to the Museums official to whom I assume Essex FLO Sophie Flynn went in order to 'escalate' (as she threatened) her dispute with two bloggers who had discussed the smile she apparently reserves for the Museum and metal detectorists. She seems not to notice the awkwardness of colluding in her employer's financial exploitation of her own image (the very image she wanted to protect).* This will all change with new EU regulations to be introduced on May 25th, but they will not apply long in the UK, after they are ejected from the EU:
From: Paul Barford [...] Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2018 10:59 AM To: 'Museums'; 'Sof[...]' Cc: 'nigelsw[...]'; 'Im[...]m'; 'mlewis[...]' Subject: Re: Selling Sophie

Dear Dr Besant,
Thank you for your helpful letter about your institution’s ownership of the rights to the image of an unnamed photographer depicting a recent Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) activity. There seems to be confusion here, with both the PAS and Ms Flynn herself (in letters to the Heritage Journal and myself of 5th March 2018), appearing to claim these rights.

Several points:

1) I would like to make you aware that (after I edited it) I linked the image that appeared on my blog to the source, that is the fair use - in edited form - by Heritage Journal (HJ), which is the text I comment upon in my blog. That image was later removed by HJ at Ms Flynn’s insistence about 9:20 in the morning on 5th March.

It turned out that the Google Image that Heritage Journal had used came from the exclamation-mark-dotted webpage publicising a PAS event (ie, I would like to point out that it bore, when I accessed it, absolutely no ‘Museums’ copyright imprint, and no photographer is credited, which rather hinders anyone passing that information on to me as a secondary user of the edited image.

Indeed HJ had deliberately not revealed the identity of the member of PAS staff concerned - whose face they blanked out, to save her embarrassment. I only became aware that it showed Ms Flynn much later.

This is no stolen bikini-shot of Ms Flynn on holiday, it is a photo of a person employed in a public-funded Scheme, engaged doing her public-funded work and interacting with artefacts taken from the stakeholder-public’s common archaeological heritage by artefact collectors. My text, like that of HJ, engages in public with that fact and I hope you will agree with me that the public (your public too) has the fullest right to know just what is being done with their money and their heritage. Here, it seems to me that Colchester and Ipswich Museums are attempting to operate as a heritage gatekeeper by claiming monopoly of the official imagery generated by these activities and by the imposition of financial penalties, controlling who shows them and under what circumstances.

You should be aware that your 200 quid is more than half the net monthly pension of a substantial number of people where I am based, and I think you can see that as an archaeologist who runs this blog from my own pocket as a public service, that seems to me from that perspective a pretty obscene demand for your Museums to make on a foreign writer for a fair use application of material in the public domain in critical comment of the policies it represents.

My ‘Portable Antiquities Collecting and Heritage Issues blog’ (PACHI) is based in Warsaw, the centre of Europe. It is a one-man non-commercial private social media production with global scope and reach, commenting on current policies on the handling of portable antiquities, including by museums such as your own. Generally, heritage institutions, recognizing the need for debate in the heritage sector, have been helpful rather than obstructive. The Bloomsbury-based PAS and its scattered staff are all too often one of the exceptions.

Although I’ve been running that blog since 2008 (10073 posts, most with pictures), this is actually the first time the issuing of an invoice has been proposed for my use of material in discussions of portable antiquities collecting and heritage issues there.

I would see this in a wider context. As it happens, with my professional hat on, for the past few days, I have also been chasing up renewal of publication permissions for illustrations of a book I wrote some time ago which is being republished in a new format by Cornell University Press. I guess I can consider myself lucky there that without exception, other museums and archaeological institutions are by no means as parsimonious as your Museums over this issue and agreeing to assign the author and publisher reproduction rights without a fee. That’s right across continental Europe, from the Netherlands to Moscow. What have they got that your Museums lack?

2). You demand 200 quid from a foreign writer for (I presume non-exclusive) use of this image. But I am not interested in the whole of the FLO, only the smile. The posts that we are discussing refer to PAS staff smiling at artefact collectors as they handle the results of the depletion of the archaeological record. So, a photo of a real authentic FLO smile as she sits and gives the thumbs-up at a table where ‘finders’ bring stuff in is obviously totally relevant and 'fair use' in comment and critique.

In that light, please tell me, how much is just the bit with the smile? I was thinking of a bit that on measurement transpires to be one-seventieth of the current image. So, I propose £2.85 for Sophie’s smile. Is that OK? Since bank transfers are difficult from Poland, do you accept Paypal?

3). If you are so concerned about image use on a foreign blog, please check PACHI for other images of yours that may be used there but about which you have not been informed, as I assume, by the assiduous Ms Flynn. There might be one, for example, accompanying the write-up I did of the theft of the horn of Ipswich’s Rosie the Rhino and there may be others. Please check. [PS the tracking software indicates that she did not - the photo of Rosie is the BBC's, phew, eh?]

4). Since it touches on another theme that figures in my blog (and additionally is a concern raised by numismatists), I would like to publish on my blog the first email you sent me [it is from a ‘gov’ account], may I? I think it raises a very interesting question about museum image charges that I have touched on before on the blog, but your email gives a concrete example that I want to discuss in the context of the type of waivers landowner are asked to sign when donating metal detected finds to museums. [PS, she did not, but I will manage without quoting her directly]

5). In attempting to block full depiction of an issue on both HJ and PACHI by claiming unfair use of images, Ms Flynn finds herself in insalubrious company. UK ‘metal detectorists’ are always trying it on (some episodes are chronicled in my blog). It is disturbing that the mores of this ‘partner’ community should be rubbing off on heritage professionals.

I personally know the guys behind HJ, and nicer people it would be difficult to meet, and they are really passionate about preserving the heritage. Ms Flynn (a ‘liaison’ officer no less) chose however to adopt an aggressive first approach to them, and myself, and then threatened to ‘escalate’ the issue (it seems you, Dr Besant, are the intended instrument of that escalation).

I am 100% certain that had Ms Flynn simply asked HJ nicely to change that photo for another FLO (because, for example, on the day it was taken she was having a ’bad hair day’), that would have been the end of it. I am sure she’d have got an apology [see the email from Nigel Swift to her: Mon, 5 Mar 2018 9:47] , but now I think it is she who needs to apologise. Instead, she started a vendetta of ranting on Twitter (in work time?) and has the audacity there to intimate a lack of ‘respect’ on our part and in addition, she accuses us of ‘theft’ (!) As a result, we are all wasting working time discussing a single picture of a girl in a blue PAS blouse making a thumbs-up sign, when I am sure we all have better things to do.

My feeling is that the approach of Ms Flynn to colleagues was neither respectful, nor appropriate in the circumstances. It badly reflects on the traditions of integration and partnership of the Museum where she works. My own connections to COLEM go back a very long way and have always met there friendly and knowledgeable people, and after all those years, to be treated in such a way by a member of Museum staff, and one that is specifically paid to ‘liaise’, saddens me.

If that is not yourself, Dr Besant, please apprise her line manager of this correspondence.

I look forward to receiving your reply

Paul Barford

PS I am informed that the Museum’s Ms Flynn is becoming quite an Internet celebrity, and that now Rescue is also carrying this image and trust that in the spirit of fairness, you will also be demanding 200 quid from them in like manner.
This letter did not get a reply, and five days later I am still waiting for the permission to use the one-seventieth of an image of the lady's smile. Obviously, there is a huge issue here, the whole advantage of social media is the speed with which it reacts to events as they unfold, the attraction is the topicality. If however one has to wait nearly a week or more to actually get the rights to material needed to support an argument, unless we are to see a proliferation of unsupported arguments (oh, yes, like the supporters of collectors and collecting do indeed use)  we need to see gatekeeper institutions like provincial museums really speed up their response time. My second letter to the same people:

Dear Dr Besant, Ms Flynn, 1). With reference to our recent correspondence, I would like to inform you that RESCUE the trust for British Archaeology is still displaying the ‘part of Sophie’ picture on their Facebook page! I trust that you will also be chasing them up about it and demanding CBC’s 200 quid from them too and ‘enforcing payment’ as you threatened me. There is ostensibly another 200 quid due from Wyatt Vanman for the same ‘theft’ (sic) of CBC’s property: in the comment under the Rescue post, there is currently part-of the ‘part-of-Sophie’ picture displayed. Maybe he could pay less for use of only a part image?
 Wyatt sometimes comments on my blog, but I am afraid I do not have an address for him, but Rescue is easy enough to trace.
 Probably there are several more of these ‘part of Sophie’ images on Facebook. There are a number of metal detecting Facebook pages out there where collaboration with PAS and its FLOs are discussed in lively and often picturesque terms, I trust that you will be hunting down any unauthorised use of such images and seeking to threaten and punish artefact hunter ‘offenders’ in the same manner...
 By the way, the fact that I suspect the Museums, still less the PAS,  though you accuse us, will not do take such action in the case of metal detectorists heritage-grabbers is precisely the point that this post was making on both blogs. Please feel free to prove us wrong by threatening to drag some UK metal detectorist ‘partners’ through the courts for showing a ‘part of Sophie’ image too.
 Please let me know what action you intend to take, and I will write about it on my blog so everybody knows not to use CBC images again in any discussion. Thanks.
 2). I would be grateful to receive a reply to my last email to Dr Besant, I will be going abroad soon and am keen to sort out this matter with CBC and the Museums before I go.
Paul Barford  
More silence from the Museums ensued. In Poland, institutions like this are legally obliged to answer with a decision within 14 days. I suspect that in Bonkers Britain we might have to wait longer.

UPDATE 11.03.18

* Ms Flynn, with regard to your police complaint on Saturday, if you do not have one at home, the Museum library has, I know, one of those useful books called 'dictionary', where you can look up words you are not familiar with. If you use one (highly recommended), you will find that the regular transitive verb 'to pimp' has a number of meanings. When it has an object it means 'to exploit'. The Museum exploits your image, it is pimping your image. It is profiting from selling pictures of you, and you agree to this. The verb has another meaning: 'to Pimp'  + obj. (coll.) can also mean 'improving', in this case, young lady, you are by no means improving your professional image, or that of the institutions for which you currently work by your behaviour.  I too went top UCL and somehow must have missed the classes there where you were apparently taught such a principle of academic exchange as 'if lost for words, call the police' . Thank God and my dictionary. 

Thursday, 8 March 2018

International Women's Day

Wszystkim kobietom, nie tylko znanym i kochanym, najserdeczniejsze życzenia w dniu ich święta.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Ancient Egyptian statue hidden inside a couch shipped by air

In Kuweit,
Customs officers discovered what seems to be a 170-cm-long Ancient Egyptian statue hidden inside a couch shipped by air. The statue was sent to the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters (NCCAL) and is being examined in order to determine whether it belongs to the pharaonic era or not. A customs officer said a citizen came to collect office furniture that arrived from Egypt, and the statue was found during inspection. Action is pending until the examination results are complete.
The video shows, not a statue, but the lid of a mummiform coffin, looking as if it is in freshly-excavated condition.  Tragically, the video shows that the object was placed, face down, loose in the base of the sofa without any packing material and could easily have been damaged in transport. 

Essex FLO Gets Stroppy, Heritage Action Get Told Off [Updated]

Heritage Action get a bollocking from a FLO, shamefully, the one that serves (I emphasize that word Ms Flynn) my area:
Update 5 March 2018 Here we had an image of a FLO smiling at a Finds Day. Well not a FLO smiling, we blanked out the FLO and left only the smile! We were told to take it down to avoid further action. We don’t think there were grounds for action or for complying but we have removed it for a quiet life. Also because it serves to illustrate something we’ve long experienced and pointed out about PAS: people who exploit archaeology for their own benefit always get broad smiles and praise. People who strive for 20 years for conservation get treated with hostility. [my emphasis PMB]
Now, personally I take the view also that the photo was there for the purpose of valid comment and is anyway already in the public domain here (note, no credits are given to the photographer on the Colchester and Ipswich Museums website, nor indeed in the records they incorporate into the PASD). I'll take down my version of the HA picture, but only if the Liaison Officer asks very nicely and not in the threatening manner in which she addressed HA. Come on, do some liaising.

And while you are at it, why not stop just looking at the pictures and actually read the text of Heritage Action's post (and mine) and let's have some substantive comment on the words and notions behind them. Up to it?

UPDATE 6th March 2018
It seems that asking nicely was not something the 'liaison' officer was prepared to do, she seems to think threatening 'escalation' and calling me 'disrespectful' and a 'thief' is the way to go. Bad habits from metal-detecting 'partners' rubbing off there. So I left her sweet smile in my original post.

Then in the afternoon of 5th March I got a demand from the Museum where she works for 200 quid to use their employee's photo - the museum is selling Sophie. Just as soon as I get the permission to put the official letter online, I will publish this correspondence - it is really something and really shows the PAS up for what it is and what it is doing. And no, I am not paying that Museum 200 quid - after all the unpaid work I put into sorting out some of the material they had acquired after the death of a local collector and publishing it for them... the very idea. But watch this space.

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