Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Priscan Pathos: 'Our Expert World Class Archaeological Team'


A while ago, readers may remember I commented on a group of artefact hunters slyly calling themselves 'Priscan Archaeology'. I put a comment under the video to which I referred:
PortAntissues 1 week ago
In what way is what the three guys are shown doing here "archaeology"? In what way is this a "survey"? When will we see the preliminary results of this survey done by this "archaeology" group - for example a presentation of the documented extent and density of the scatters of tesserae and ceramic building material that they use to claim they have a "villa"?
I would have thought that this was pretty clear. It refers to the claims that what is shown is 'archaeology' and a 'survey' (an 'archaeological survey' presumably). Given what we can all see them doing in that video, and what we can all hear them saying as they do it, I asked in what way that claim can be justified. I also said that to qualify as a video of a group of archaeologists conducting a survey, we might expect to see them actually creating some documentation. Look what happened:
Paul King 1 week ago
Hi PortAntissues,
As you can see, I don't assume any false names or pseudonym's (sic) so that whatever I write is fully accountable and fully transparent. Someone using a pseudonym can always slope off to lurk under some lichen stricken (sic) rock and fester for the rest of eternity.
Or you can be like me and openly display who you are without any fear of attack and ready to defend what you believe in or stand by your morals. [...]
He then goes on to criticize my grammar (oblivious to the fact that there is nothing wrong with the grammar of that comment). So, instead of addressing the actual question, we immediately see the usual tekkie tactic of dragging each and every discussion down to a personal level. PortAntissues is hardly, however. a pseudonym. It's the account name from which I am writing and I would say it's pretty transparent who I am if you click a bit. But of course Mr King can play the fool as much as he likes, but in reality we can all see that he knows very well whom he is attacking. So he continues:
Firstly, excusing your grammar, the three guys you refer to have contributed masses of vital information to several archaeological institutions that are world renowned. Please can you offer evidence of just one of your contributions per say (sic)?
Secondly, if you are well-read enough, you will recognise that "archaeology" applies to all that are interested in the subject matter such as; children, students, scholars, archaeologists, universities, World Class Museums, Priscan Archaeology, historians,..... the list is exhaustive! (sic)
Thirdly, if you research the word "survey" you will quickly understand exactly what that word entails. The results of all our surveys are published in the public domain and records are recorded as and when we see fit in accordance with protecting landowner privacy.
The documented extent and density of the tesserae scatter and, indeed, the metallic findings have been forwarded to our expert World Class archaeological team for assessment via a spreadsheet with all finds recorded by GPS to 10 decimal places. It would be lovely to see what you have done for archaeology?............... (sic)
Anyone even with a base (sic) knowledge of archaeology can easily recognise that tesserae equals a RB building more substantial that an (sic) wattle and daub structure or indeed a roundhouse.
Have you ever found anything? Best regards Paul

So, according to 'Priscan Archaeology's' Paul King, Collection-Driven Exploitation of a Roman villa site is 'archaeology' because "it" 'applies to all that are interested in the subject matter such as; children, students, scholars, archaeologists, universities, World Class Museums, Priscan Archaeology, historians,..... the list is exhaustive! . Now, that makes no grammatical sense. A 'child' is not 'archaeology' and neither is a historian.

Quite obviously my original question refers to how to define the discipline of archaeology, the one the name of the group says they are engaged in doing. Paul King is apparently unable to muster the priscan intellect he'd need to give us his group's definition of archaeology. I'll give mine. It would be  pretty simple, but would go something like this 'archaeology is the study of the past through a study of material traces and remains by an archaeological methodology'. Leaving aside the issue of the precise definition of the latter, it is the mention of  methodology that is missing from most definitions (including the BM's 'citizen archaeology' crap), but makes all the world of difference. Archaeology is not 'just digging up old things' (that's what looters do). Archaeology is archaeology, pheasant shooting is neither biology or ornithology. Watch the video and show me where there is consistent use of any methodology in this alleged 'archaeological project'.

My guess is that by 'contributed masses of vital information to several archaeological institutions that are world renowned' Mr King means the PAS and 'several' other object-centred recording schemes (BMC, CCI?) like that. But that, per se, is not 'archaeology', is it? If the results of Priscan Archaeology's archaeological research are indeed  'published in the public domain' then we will all be able to see them, but strangely no bibliography of these publications is given. But I suspect this is more fogginess, because what Mr King means by 'records are recorded as and when we see fit in accordance with protecting landowner privacy' is not any kind of archaeological survey methodology. It seems what he means is reporting collectables to the PAS (and the ethics of hoiking material from a site where the landowner does not allow reporting has been commented on here earlier).

I am intrigued by the reference to 'our expert World Class archaeological team' but suspect that we will not ever hear of anything that shows the reality behind this claim. Mr King might explain how, world class or not, Baz, Keith and Trev (or whoever) would make any sense of archaeological survey results presented as individual pieces of data laid out as a 'spreadsheet'. Bonkers.

Vignette: Not filling in the holes, a 'survey' in progress

14 comments:

Brian Curtiss said...

What are good resources that describe the specific survey methodology that should be employed in a proper excavation? Is this sort of information readily available or only available from academic institutions during a course of study?

Paul Barford said...

I would say they are about the same 'resources' that are available in the case of just about any other academic discipline. But you'd attract ridicule too if you call yourself a nuclear physicist on the basis that you've read a few magazine articles on it and bought a second hand Geiger counter on eBay.

There are courses and there are community projects available for (real) amateur archaeologists, but these people are just hunting for artefacts, not creating archaeological documentation.

Robert Hamer said...

Hello Paul
As soon as all the data is collated and published, we would gladly send you a copy if you can forward me your email address please.
I would also be interested in seeing copies of any Archaeological reports you have compiled and what was the time frame from survey to publishing, I have searched the internet and cannot find any of your published work, is this not publicly available?
Regards
Robert

Paul Barford said...

The address you can send a copy of the report to is: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/deposit/How.xhtml

As for my reports and other publications, I am not particularly interested in submitting a CV to you, as I am not in the slightest interested in a job in Priscan Archaeology. Perhaps you should be aware the word 'publications' implies that a work is in fact publicly available. That's what the word means!

I also feel that your logic is faulty, I say that what the video shows is not an archaeological survey. The answer to that is to set out why it is, and not ask if I have ever done a field survey. In the same way a pedophile or upskirter might say nobody has any right to criticise their activity who is not a pedophile or upskirter too, which is just nonsense. Going down the 'nonsense defence' road will get you nowhere.

Robert Hamer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul Barford said...

Mr Hamer, I suggest if you are serious about dragging things down to the personal level, if you want to find out what I have written, don't try to use social media, visit a good academic library.

Robert Hamer said...

I suggest you stop personally attacking people without having access to the full facts yourself and assuming the worst of people, yes! We all know that there are people out there who don't play by the rules,a bit like the paedophiles and skirt lifters you referred to, but if you actually bothered to look into what some of us lesser mortals are trying to achieve, you may eventually see the good in people and receive a more positive response to your Blogs, and why delete my comment? If you want open and honest debate let's do it.
Regards
Robert

Robert Hamer said...

I suggest you stop personally attacking people without having access to the full facts yourself and assuming the worst of people, yes! We all know that there are people out there who don't play by the rules,a bit like the paedophiles and skirt lifters you referred to, but if you actually bothered to look into what some of us lesser mortals are trying to achieve, you may eventually see the good in people and receive a more positive response to your Blogs, and why delete my comment? If you want open and honest debate let's do it.
Regards
Robert

Paul Barford said...

It was deleted by accident, I did not notice I'd done it. Please resend. There is no personal attack here, I am disputing what a group that calls itself an archaeology group says about itself. I have a right to do so - and precisely on the very basis of the wa they present themselves. If they do not present all the facts they'd like taken into consideration, it's hardly my fault. If you want us to see what you are trying to achieve, give it the proper name, present the facts about what you are doing, and what you are aware you are not and why, then we can look at it and decide if its a good thing, or one that is no better than any other gang of artefact hunters. You miss my point about the skirt lifters.
.

Robert Hamer said...

Hi Paul
We are currently two years into a five year project.
Year one was a mix of desk based survey, field walking and detecting this was to pave the way for the next four years in the project. Pottery and flint scatter and artefacts recovered within the plough soil were used to identify locations for trenches, we were unable to use any form of geophysics survey as the land had been spread with green waste contaminated with furniture fittings and small fragments of brass and aluminium.
The second year saw us involved with the excavation of three trenches the results of which have been collated but not made publically available to protect the site from the type of people who are normally tagged as "hoikers or nighthawkers".
The third year will see three more trenches excavated on another area of the farm. The surveys to date have found evidence of a lost medieval settlement, two possible Roman Villas and a substantial Roman Ladder settlement. Once recorded all the recovered artefacts, pottery etc have been placed on display where groups of young children can see the history that has been recovered and hopefully encourage more of our youngsters to have respect for our lost history and maybe one day become an Archaeologist themselves.
I am from a very poor upbringing and did not have opportunities to attend college or University to help expand my knowledge as I had to help provide for my family. I understand your frustrations with how certain people treat the Archaeological record but I am trying my best to do what I can to ensure that we do things right and the help we have received from Archaeologists and academics has been very helpful, we all have a lot to learn from our past and everybody deserves the opportunity to be involved.
Regards
Robert

Paul Barford said...

>everybody deserves the opportunity to be involved<
But not "everybody" has the ability or knowledge to do it properly https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/elderly-woman-destroys-19th-century-spanish-fresco-by-elias-garcia-martinez-in-botched-restoration-8073267.html

which if you lack one or the other or both means its's *irresponsible* to attempt a task for which you are unprepared. It's what we mean by the term 'responsible detecting' for example.

So attempting to carry out a "five year archaeology project" when you've no idea what you are doing is not exactly something that we should be condoning.

> we were unable to use any form of geophysics survey as the land had been spread with green waste contaminated with furniture fittings and small fragments of brass and aluminium.<

Nonsense, there are many geophysical techniques (GPR, resistivity etc) which are unaffected by metal in the topsoil, otherwise NO site with any metal artefacts in it could ever be geophyzzed !! This is a key example of why people without even basic knowledge should not be attempting to interfere with archaeological sites as their blundering only causes damage and problems.


> the results of which have been collated but not made publically available to protect the site from the type of people who are normally tagged as "hoikers or nighthawkers"<
And yet so-called metal detectorists happily use archaeological reports to locate potentially 'productive sites'. I see no difference.

> Once recorded all the recovered artefacts, pottery etc have been placed on display where groups of young children can see the history that has been recovered and hopefully encourage more of our youngsters to have respect for our lost history and maybe one day become an Archaeologist themselves.<
Just children? You keep the excavation archive in primary schools?

Is what you are doing to this site without - as you admit - any real knowledge of what you are doing showing 'respect' would you say?

But to come back to the original point, from which we have now strayed,

"
In what way is what the three guys are shown doing here "archaeology"? I asked in the post In what way is this a "survey"? "


It is not, so why call it one? Mr King in his rude response also makes reference to children.

Paul Barford said...

and that odd reference to 'our expert World Class archaeological team' still remains to be clarified.

Robert Hamer said...

Paul
I am going to refrain from any further comments it is clear from your constant dissecting of anybody's comments that you offer no advice to anybody and everybody is wrong...!!!
You let your assumptions run away with you, it's about time that you stick to the current day job whatever that may be.
Goodbye
Robert

Paul Barford said...

My advice to you is to stop spamming my blog with your whining, stop messing about with things you do not understand, and stop making claims you cannot substantiate. OK? Good advice. And yes, I believe you are indeed wrong in calling what you do an 'archaeological survey' and nothing you have said (or the wild claims since added to your website) has convinced me that I need to change my mind.

 
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