Friday, 18 May 2018

How PAS 'Partners' Perceive the PASt: A New Glossary of Metal Detector Users' Jargon (2)

Megan Fox has old-timer
 detectorist enthralled
In the post above I analyse how some PAS artefact hunting 'partners' perceive the past based on a new glossary of metal detector users' jargon (Winter 2018). I think this document reveals a lot about the mentalities of some of the people that go 'metal detecting' to pocket bits of the archaeological heritage and add it to their personal collections. Through the Portable Antiquities Scheme these people are considered in some way 'partners' in the 'creation of knowledge', though this model lacks the subtlety of admitting that far more knowledge is stolen from us by the lack of proper records of what is taken from where and from what associations (context of deposition and context of discovery are both generally lost through the activity of collectors).  This glossary is also highhly revealing of mentalities and attitudes of these people towards the archaeology that extends them the hand of partnership, in return for them doing what they do according to 'best practice' and those who question examples of bad practice. The glossary contains headings for both 'archaeology' and, rather surprisingly, 'Barford', just below a picture of 'Rob's (sic) Annular Brooch':

First of all, how interesting it is to see just one name of an archaeologist who writes about 'metal detecting', is this 'Barford' a lone voice in the field? If so, why? I leave that up to the reader to judge how many British archaeologists are speaking their mind about artefact hunting in the UK, the way it is actually being done (as opposed to merely being presented), as well as the effects it is having on the archaeological resource and public perceptions of the discipline. How many are saying what needs to be said, and if they are, why are they not singled out in this glossary too?

It is disappointing to see Mr Winter going in the same direction as the likes of the two disgruntled detectorist has-beens that generally have little to say other than bashing fictional characters 'Warsaw wally' and 'Heritage Harry' to make their frustrations go away.

If there are faults in my arguments, or mitigating circumstances to concerns raised here in the broader context of collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological resource, then let those who see them argue them out [with supporting evidence and case studies that prove to be more than the exception] in the public forum of the social media (that's collectors and archaeologists/heritage professionals too) instead of then name calling and distortions which help nobody's cause. In fact, is it not the case that the absence of such reasoned argument suggests that there are indeed serious questions that the supporters of collecting (that's collectors and archaeologists/heritage professionals too) really should be addressing? And if that is the case, it is worth considering why they are not, merely dodging the question, ignoring them, failing to focus their though, or trying to deflect discussion onto other topics?

I do not know what leads the artefact hunter to consider Megan Fox as an authority on archaeology. Let us see what she actually has to say on the matter when (if) her proposed (see here (John Winter's citation),  here and here for example) TV miniseries trashing archaeological interpretations of the past comes out. I expect a full and detailed review of the Fox-Travel Channel-mega-anti-archaeological-extravaganza from Mr Winter, a peer review of one 'citizen archaeologist'  (sic) of the efforts of another. 

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