Sunday, 22 September 2019

Thomas Cook and 'Heritage Tourism'

One of the world's best known holiday brands, UK travel giant Thomas Cook has collapsed after last-minute negotiations aimed at saving the 178-year-old holiday firm failed (BBC Thomas Cook collapses as last-ditch rescue talks fail 23rd September 2019). The business was founded in 1841 in Leicestershire by cabinet-maker Thomas Cook to carry temperance supporters by railway between the cities of Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Birmingham. He organised his first tours to Europe in 1855 and the first trip to Egypt and Palestine in 1869. The firm expanded with the boom in travel in the Edwardian era, though was mainly patronised by the wealthy. This was the beginning of the heritage tourism industry (and also was the context of a restricted number of antiquities leaving places like Egypt and finding a place in British homes and collections).* [UPDATE thread here]

Thomas Cook and Son Ltd benefited from the post-war holiday boom, which saw one million Britons travelling abroad by 1950. In the late 1950s, the company began to more widely promote 'foreign holidays' (particularly France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain) and attract a broader clientele. The company sold "inclusive tours" (package holidays) using scheduled airlines but refused to sell cheap package holidays. Cook's was still the largest and most successful company in the industry, but in the 1960s its pre-eminence was being challenged by new travel firms that were able to undercut Cook's prices and offer cheap package deals that which compromised on quality and service.
Speaking to BBC News from Manchester airport, travel expert Simon Calder said Thomas Cook "wasn't ready for the 21st Century". He said: "It was using a model that was great for the second half of the 20th Century where people would obediently go into their local travel agency and book a package holiday. "Now everybody can pretend they are a travel agent. They've got access to all the airline seats, hotel beds, car rentals in the world and they can put things together themselves. "Thomas Cook simply wasn't differentiating enough."[...] Thomas Cook has blamed a series of issues for its problems including political unrest in holiday destinations such as Turkey, last summer's prolonged heatwave and customers delaying booking holidays because of Brexit. But the firm has also faced fierce competition from online travel agents and low-cost airlines. In addition, many holidaymakers are putting together their own holidays and not using travel agents.
* With the advent of the spread of rail travel (between 1825 and 1840), the so-called 'Grand Tour' ceased to be the elite phenomenon it had been a century earlier.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Tenea found after Cracking Down on Artefact Hunters

The PAS and their supporters say we should "partner" artefact hunters as they will lead us to new sites. Alternatively, we could arrest them (Jessica Bateman, 'The discovery of the ancient Greek city of Tenea' BBC 16 September 2019)
illicit antiquities smugglers had known about the site for years, and would often pay local farmers for vases and coins they came across. In 2010, Korka worked alongside the police and informants to intercept the illegal sale of two statues that had been looted nearby. [...] in 2013 the excavation began.[...] Last October, houses were discovered, and the team realised they had finally found the city itself. “Most of the surface level findings had already been taken by looters,” Lagos said.

US to send troops to Saudi Arabia

Runup to another US-led humanitarian and antiquities crisis in the Middle East? After drone strikes hit the Abqaiq oil facility and the Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia a week ago, affecting the global oil supply, and among mounting US-Iran tensions, the US has announced plans to send forces to Saudi Arabia. The deployment would be "defensive in nature", and the size of the contingent has not yet been decided. US forces would focus on boosting air and missile defences and would "accelerate the delivery of military equipment" to the Saudi state.
The multiple drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil installations have exposed a major gap in its defences. Now the US, its strategic ally, has offered to help plug that gap. A US Navy destroyer is being stationed in the northern Gulf to intercept any missiles coming from that direction. The Pentagon has also announced a further deployment of troops to Saudi Arabia to help the country bolster its anti-missile defences. Further US defensive equipment is being sent to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates amid the ongoing tensions with their neighbour, Iran.
Earlier on Friday, President Trump announced new sanctions against Iran while signalling he wanted to avoid military conflict.

The Middle East

Friday, 20 September 2019

Darker Story behind Heritage News from Israel

Israeli authorities have announced the results of excavations in advance of development in the southern town of Rahat, located in the northern Negev/Naqab desert between Be’er Sheva and Ashkelon. The investigations revealed the remains of a small farming village rural, and next to it the foundations of a small open-air mosque, provisionally dated to the seventh or eighth century CE. This mosque is significant because it would have served a small settled farming village located far from any major settlements and its construction reflects the processes of cultural and religious change that the country underwent during the transition from the Byzantine to the early Islamic period.The context of these investigations however has not received so much attention, and that is the planned mass relocation of thousands of people by the Israeli state to the Bedouin town. Founded in the early 1970s, Rahat is a central part of Israel’s efforts to settle the nomadic Bedouin in specific communities (Michael Press, 'A Discovery of an Ancient Mosque in Israel Overshadows Planned Mass Evictions', Hyperallergic September 20, 2019). The purpose of these resettlements is to control the nomadic population and control the land they claimed, a recent programme calls for the removal of up to 65,000 people to such new towns.
Currently there are 35 Bedouin villages in the Negev that are not recognized as legal by the state. Tens of thousands of people live in these villages. Thousands of Bedouin homes in the Negev have been demolished over the last five years, with the rate increasing over time. 

PAS "Recording" and Dumbing Down the Wem Hoard

This is the Mail's account of the Wem Hoard (Millie Vincent, 'Hoard of silver coins and plates dating back to the Dark Ages were cut into pieces when the monetary system collapsed after 'Roman-era Brexit'... Mailonline, 4 September 2019). Pretty unbelievable narrativisation from the FLO here
Speaking after the inquest, Mr Reavill said: 'This hoard was discovered last summer by three metal detectorists that reported it to my colleague. 'That hoard is the largest hacksilver Roman hoard we have from the West Midlands. It contains both hacked-up vessels and brooches and buckles, but it also includes a number of Roman coins from the very end of the Roman Empire. 'Analysis which has been done at the British Museum suggests that it goes in the ground in the fifth century - 460 to 500AD. 'We know at that time that the monetary system in Britain has completely collapsed and we are based on a sort of bullion - the weight of the silver in the coins and the objects. 'That's been hacked up and put into very small pieces so that it can be paid out to people like mercenaries to protect you, but also to traders. 'The Romans traditionally leave Britain in 402 AD and that's seen as the Roman Brexit, as it were - we are at a point where that whole Roman system has collapsed, and the only way that you can go and spend money is by hacking up the old coinage and weighing it in to buy products from abroad, but also to pay people to protect you. 'So these fragments of silver vessels and things no longer function as an object but have turned into money.
I wonder at that syntax, "we (who?) are based on", "it goes in", "that [bullion] has been" and "put into pieces", "go and spend money"... let's hope he has been misquoted by the Mail reporter.

Now was there a "Roman Brexit"? Is that how it happened, Mr Reavill? A referendum maybe and "we" decided to send "the Romans" packing? That really does not tally, does it with the phrase about "a number of Roman coins from the very end of the Roman Empire" does it? Now look at this: LVPL-9CF012 The latest coins that can be identified are 402(ish) so a good two generations before the end of the Western Roman Empire, two centuries before Heraclius, and a thousand years before the fall of Constantinople. Misleading rhetoric. The idea that this hacksilver was used to "pay mercenaries to protect you" (sic) seems to lack any evidence in this deposit...

But what really makes me wonder just how much of a grasp the speaker has is the notion that after this alleged "Roman brexit", people in the West of England were using hacked-about silver to "to buy products from abroad". Please Mr Reavill, show us the evidence from the PAS database of foreign objects coming into your region in the late fifth century, 460 to 500AD.

Daily Mail photo is better than the fuzzy one currently on 
the PAS database and seems to show different objects...

As for the PAS record itself (made, it says at the bottom 11 months ago), look at it:
 HOARDUnique ID: LVPL-9CF012 [...]  WEM, SHROPSHIRE Richard Abdy, Richard Hobbs and Roger White 1 AR denarius and 66 AR siliquae and hacksilver to AD 402 BM ref.: 2018 T799 PAS: LVPL-9CF012
Circumstances of discovery Found by three metal detectorists through responsible metal detecting The Coins [....] 
Hmm, blindly "pulling out handfuls of silver" from a 45m hole into a still buried deposit is now officially "responsible detecting", yes? Really? My, how standards are dropping. Also recording standards, the database record contains a summary report (not even a list) of the coins... and nothing else, there are ingots, wire, cut sheet fragments and an annular (penannular?, photo is fuzzy) brooch and a whole lot of other stuff shown in a general photo, but NO REPORT. Come on PAS, what is this? Although we would not suspect it looking at the huge predominance of records of coins in the PAS database as a whole, (real) archaeology is a good deal more than coin fondling. Where is the description of the other components of this deposit?

Perhaps instead of making up trite moralistic ("modern relevance") fairy stories about the objects brought in by metal detecting for Daily Mail consumption, we could first have a proper, accurate and reliable description of the items you lot are fantasising about. Can we have a proper Treasure Report please - like the Treasure Act says.

The Archaeological Values of the PAS Database (XI): Degrees of Responsibility in the PAS Database

A recently publicised find has been recorded by the PAS recorder (Mr Ben Jones) as "Found by three metal detectorists through responsible metal detecting". It's nice to see the PAS noting adherence to their own Code of Best Practice for Metal Detecting in England and Wales, so how prevalent is this?

Searching the PAS database with "Responsible metal detecting" (in inverted commas) produces just eight results (in 924,985 records). Eight. So some 924900 results are objects handled by the PAS from artefact hunting of an unknown degree of responsibility? Good grief. But, according to PAS data, there is some "responsible metal detecting" going on in Norfolk (2), Cornwall (1), Northamptonshire (1), Shropshire (1), Staffordshire (1), Suffolk (1), and Worcestershire (1). So basically, if what Mr Jones recorded reflects current PAS policy, there is a near-total failure to get adherence to the current definition of 'responsible detecting' as laid down in the PAS' own "Code of Best Practice".

One of the items thrown up by this search is a potsherd with a rather odd archaeological 'description', looking like it was written by a distracted nine-year old:
A body sherd of a wheel thrown ceramic vessel of an (sic) local Romano-British Pottery type. The sherd weighs 21.93 grams. The shrd (sic) is highly fired. The sherd has an orange oxidised fabric, with a red-brown colour coat. This fabric type is similar to that known as Oxfordshire Red Colour coated ware. Typically this type of pottery dates from the 3rd to 4th Centuries AD (c.200 AD to c.400 AD). The Oxfordshire Red Colour coated industry grew up in response to the decline of Gaulish Samian and imitates some of the common Samian forms. Sherd specific details: Fabric type: Oxfordshire Red Colour coat. Firing condition: oxidised exterior, oxidised core, oxidised interior. Hardness: Hard Surface texture: Smooth, slightly powdery with a red-brown slip. Condition of sherds: Variable. Some sherds demonstrate a high degree of abrasion, with rounded edges whereas other sherds have sharp, fresh breaks. [...] Dimensions and weight Quantity: 1 Weight: 21.93 g
The sherd (or sherds) either is, or it (they) is/are not Oxfordshire Red Colour coated ware (Oxfordshire red/brown-slipped wares [OXRS] c. AD240 to 410). Here we have not only a mixed and repetitive account, but the 'description' includes not only descriptive text, but also interpretive and narrativisation (the something-this-looks-like replaces something called "samian" [from Samos?]). This looks like a bit of karaoke recording that the FLO has put their name under. How reliable are the PAS database descriptions?

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Metal detectorist sentenced to "Thinking Activities" for not handing over gold coin

Think before you steal  
A man who found a gold coin in Trefeglwys appeared in court for failing to notify the coroner and keeping the profits for himself (Court Reporter, 'Metal detectorist sentenced for not handing over Trefeglwys gold coin' Powys County Times 19th sept 2019)
Welshpool Magistrates’ Court heard on Tuesday that Tom Martin Fielding, 32, of Elsenham Road, Grimsby, failed to notify the coroner and fraudulently sold the coin for £850 in Bishops Castle. He admitted these two charges, as well as breaching a community order. The court heard that Fielding runs a group called the Shropshire and Wales Metal Detecting Club and that on a dig, three gold coins were found, two dating back to James I and one to Charles I. Fielding was prosecuted over a James I laurel coin from 1624. [...] Fielding sold the coin to Michael Clarke in Bishops Castle, and then it was sold on eBay. [...] Fielding was given a 12-month community order, with 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days, addressing thinking skills, and 100 hours of unpaid work. He was also told to pay £850 in compensation.
Grimsby is the other side of the country from "Shropshire and Wales" and Bishop's Castle. To whom was the compensation paid? The landowner?

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Heart of Darkness: Antiquities Involved in Money Laundering Case?

It is reported that Belgian authorities are investigating allegations against the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense, involving possible corruption and money laundering related to several government contracts, what is interesting is that the antiquities trade is implicated in these allegations (Imelda Cengic, 'Belgian foreign minister accused of laundering money “by selling high-value works of art and antiquities at excessive prices”...', Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), Tuesday, 17 September 2019):

According to De Tijd, the Brussels public prosecutor's office opened an investigation against Didier Reynders after a former secret agent accused him of bribery connected to a number of government deals, such as the construction of the Belgian embassy in DR Congo. The former agent also reported other bribes related to arms dealers and Congolese presidential elections, naming individuals and companies involved in various frauds. The agent said that the money was received or laundered by selling high-value works of art and antiquities at excessive prices. He claimed that an antiquarian told him that he provided services to Reynders that allowed him to allegedly launder a bit less than one million US dollars.
Reynders' spokesperson denies the allegations, prosecutors will announce whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed against the FM. A local newspaper reports (Lars Bové, 'Le parquet enquête sur des allégations de corruption visant Didier Reynders', L'Echo 14 septembre 2019) [my translation]:
Our editorial staff was able to consult, however, five secret reports that the former State Security agent wrote during his years of office. These notes, recorded in the database of the state intelligence agency, go back to the years 2009, 2010 and 2011. They confirm that the former agent pointed already the alleged practices of corruption denounced today to justice. These five secret state security reports already mention a series of names as well as "tricks" to launder money from corruption (fake transactions in the art market). The five reports are confidential official documents of the State Security. But they have no value of proof. They contain "raw information" that State Security collected from various informants. One of these notes states that one of the informants is a senior public servant in a relevant federal public service. As far as we know, the State Security did not transmit this information to the Justice at the time. The reaction of John Hendrickx, spokesman for Reynders, is brief: "This is probably again a montage from the same malevolent man who is constantly trying to harm." Didier Reynders is currently running for the post of European Commissioner for Justice.
Which I think may provide a context for these damaging allegations. My bet is they will prove to be unfounded, though I think we would like to know more about the Minister's transactions in antiquities.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Italian Consul Involved in Antiquities Smuggling?

ARCA blog is reporting: 'Egyptian prosecutor requests that former honorary consul of Italy be placed on INTERPOL’s red notice list' in connection with his alleged involvement in smuggling over 20 000 artefacts from the port of Alexandria. The objects were discovered inside a diplomatic shipping container, of the type used to transport household goods, sent through the port of Salerno in May 2017. The ancient objects in the container consisted mainly of ancient coins, but also nearly 200 artefacts dated from the Predynastic to the Ptolemaic, as well as the Islamic era (including funerary masks decorated in gold, a sarcophagus, a "Boat of the Dead" with 40 oarsmen, amphorae, pectoral paintings, wooden sculptures, bronzes, and ushabti statuettes).  They were probably from illegal excavations of archaeological sites, possibly from the area near Minya in Upper Egypt. 

Have Permission, Spade, Got me Some Barrows....

Over on Andy Fudge's Facebook page, we can see some so-called "responsible detecting" and crowd-sourcing "citizen archaeology" going on. Or we might consider to what use a super-fine toothcomb can be put in malign hands:  
Neil Green to Metal detecting 11 hrs
ust doing a DTM Lidar on my local woods and noticed two mounds and then a road leading to some rough fields. Would these be barrow/Tumulus? [emoticon] [emoticon]
I would say there is a bit more than that going on there, but the artefact hunters seem focused on the possibilities of a bit of antiquarian barrow-digging, like Stephen Whitehead, who writes:
If the mounds are at the tip of the hill, then go for it 
Actually, that's not where barrows tend to be, but anyhow, who's going to reason with a metal detectorist? So Mr Green is heartened by the responses:
 Neil Green Cheers guys, will crack on with these woods soon! - Yep I have permission
Does he now? My problem with this is about whether those earthworks, not just the mounds are known to the local  archaeological services. If they are, then they should be scheduled (note, not a single "responsible detectorist" on that FB page raised that issue).

If however in the dense woodland they have not been noted - so therefore are not scheduled, then surely the proper response of anyone (actually, not notionally) "passionate about history" and "preserving the past" would not be to go over there where he has "permission" for detector and spade use, but with a camera, tape measure and surveying pins and make a proper non-invasive earthwork survey (plenty of books on the subject for amateur archaeologists) and take that to his local archaeology service and ask them to take the newly-discovered site under protection.  Isn't that what proper "opportunities for active public involvement in archaeology" (PAS aim three) is actually all about?

Bangor Attack! Sam Hardy Gets it Again

"Give the people what they want"
Professor Raimund Karl has another nasty go at Sam Hardy. Nothing new there, the Welsh academic seems to be on a vendetta. This text is more of the same old thing he's been turning out for a while now (Raimund Karl 2019, "The,(sic) artefact erosion estimation'-fallacy. Another response to papers by Samuel A. Hardy', Archäologische Denkmalpflege 2, 2019, 73-143. [Note that "Archäologische Denkmalpflege" is just a self-published internet webpage, but he gives this text a doi: 10.13140/RG.2.2.29959.24484]).

The text is a turgid  71-pager, really unrewarding to plough through. To give a taster of its nature, the abstract starts like this:
In this article, I again discuss the attempts by Samuel A. Hardy to 'estimate' the 'cultural harm' caused by non-professional metal detecting. I [have] already discussed the serious methodological (and arithmetic) flaws in his original paper in an earlier contribution (Karl 2018a), highlighting why the results of his study were unreliable and thus anything but useful. In this contribution, I focus on the even more fundamental conceptual flaws underpinning his research, which lead to his fundamentally flawed methodology. Particularly crucial in this context is that not only do the assumptions he makes for conducting his study directly determine its outcomes, but that most of these assumptions are fundamentally flawed themselves [...].
and so on....  Pure Bolko von Richthofen... Is this primitivism what British "academic" writing has come to in the wake of Brexit? Karl (and his university) should be ashamed of such behaviour. Now, what is "non-professional metal detecting", please? Is that the same as collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological resource? What is "professional metal detecting"? Why use scare quotes for estimate and cultural harm?  How in the world of Bangor are the results of any research (astrophysics included) unaffected by the underlying assumptions made in the framing of the research question?

This includes his own, for Karl (along with his metal detecting pals) assumes that, since Karl himself clearly has a fixation on this, Hardy's only focus is on whether restrictive (permit-led) artefact hunting is a better protector of archaeological values than unrestricted collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record. Karl's been rather boringly going at Hardy from this angle now or a couple of years (see past posts in this PACHI blog). This is despite the fact that - as I have pointed out in earlier posts - is not what actually reading Hardy's texts as a whole (rather than selecting soundbites) say is their topic.

We get into Ixelles-Six land when Karl says what (a priori "fundamentally flawed") assumptions of Hardy he is challenging. He reckons that he thinks he knows better what Hardy should think, so - sticking to his abstract's summary of the points he so laboriously makes - Hardy should not be looking at "the number of artefacts extracted ex situ" because:

Monday, 16 September 2019

Winterbourne Gunner Deposit Excavated by Archaeologists

Worn antoninianus of Valerian
A hoard of 1820 Roman base silver coins was found during a metal detecting rally on arable land in Bourne Valley near Salisbury, despite the fact that it was found at a discrete place, it has officially been called the "Bourne Valley Hoard" (William Rimell, 'Coin hoard, more than 1,700 years old, which was found near Salisbury, is treasure, says coroner'. Salisbury Journal 16th September)
Found perfectly preserved by metal detectorists on arable land in Winterbourne Gunner, the coins have been dated back to as early as 253 AD, when Valerian I and Gallienus ruled the empire. But, as soon as the detectorists – Tony and Paul Hunt – realised the significance of the find on August 19 last year, they called the British Museum to carry out the excavation. The next day a crack team of archaeologists had descended on the site. The excavation revealed a 15cm-tall grey jar, buried upright within a pit that had been cut into the natural chalk. A spokesperson for the museum said: "The finders acted very properly in not digging up the hoard themselves, but rather enabling a professional excavation. They should be acknowledged for this, as too often it does not happen, and we lose important information." [...] The find was judged to be "treasure" by Salisbury senior coroner David Ridley at a special treasure inquest on September 11. This means, under law, that "the Crown" is formally regarded as the owner of the items, and not those that discovered it. However, under discretion of the museum, compensation may be paid to those who found it, as well as the landowner.
It is good to see a newspaper (a) making special note of the fact that the artefact hunters did not hoik the stuff out themselves (as at Wem and the "Chew Valley" fiasco being discussed recently) and even summarising the archaeological information that was thus obtained, (b) that the Treasure ransom, paid to ensure obedience of the clear stipulates of the law, is discretionary ("may be paid") and (c) does not mention "how much" that payment might eventually be, (d) discretely avoids highlighting that the discovery was during a commercial metal detecting rally in August 2018.

. This "perfectly preserved" though in an arable field means that this (isolated?) find was made well below plough level, in the undisturbed archaeological deposits under the ploughsoil ('Code of Best Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales' anyone?) . Now this "crack team" of archies, what kind of an excavation did they do at such short notice, and what is the site and landscape context of this deposit? Why was the pit dug precisely where it was, and why was it filled burying a pot containing a load of mid-third century coins in it?

Church of Scotland Get Banned from Metal Detecting Facebook Page?

It seems the Church of Scotland were trying to contact someone in the metal detecting community through Andy Fudge's 'metal detecting' page, perhaps to discuss something important. To no avail. This is what "responsible detecting" looks like close-to. In my country we called this censorship, and opposed it. In Boris-land it seems to be thriving in certain circles:
Stephen Llewellyn to Metal detecting     2 hrs ago 
Sorry guys , I've deleted the Scotland church posts. Dont really know Derek or his wife sharon as I've never met them. Dont know the ins and outs of it or reasons behind it. When the matter as (sic) been to court then discuss it. I'm sure it's on every group on facebook Just do what you all do best , post your finds and give advice. 15 comments
I think the advice might be that if the landowner asks you for a share of the money you made by selling off something from THEIR property, the responsible, ethical, and lawful thing to do would be to give it to them, and not run away. The second piece of advice would be to get a proper agreement drawn up before even setting foot on a landowner's property. The third you'll not see on a metal detecting FB page, don't trust artefact hunters coming onto YOUR land an inch. 


Our Clubs are Dying

Stephen Llewellyn Beverly Moses I understand what your saying , I'm sure everything will come out in court. This [Facebook] group isn't about this stuff , it's about a community helping and sharing. Facebook as highlighted the good and bad in the hobby , facebook (h)as destroyed the hobby in a lot of ways not just this. Clubs are dying because online clubs have taken off and people prefer these. Digital isnt always best but just my opinion.

Which is a blow for PAS and their Code of Best Practice as clubs are central to their 'strategy' (I use that term loosely). So if the clubs are on the way out (because club digs are being replaced by commercial rallies) and these virtual chatrooms are "not about this stuff [ethics and responsible behaviour]", then where is they discussed?


Important Site near Wem Trashed, Artefact Hoikers Praised by FLO for "Helping to Unearth Part of Britain's History"

A fifth-century hacksilver hoard has been dug up near Wem in Shropshire  (Sue Austin, One of rarest Dark Ages finds - the Wem hoard - is declared treasure Sep 4, 2019). The so-called Wem hoard was discovered by three metal detectorists  last October. It was found on commercial ("charity") rally held by the newly formed Cornovii Discoverers Metal Detecting Club. The 200 broken fragments included siliquae coins and a halved, well-worn 1st century denarius, a brooch.There were also pieces of melted down silver ingots.
The organiser of the charity metal detecting rally, Mr John Parry, said the find was the culmination of six years of believing that there was treasure to be found on the land. Steve Lord from north Wales and Steve King who lives near Chester, had been on car park duty at the Whitchurch Lions charity dig on a farmer's fields near Wem, last October and decided to walk half an hour across the the furthest corner of land away from the hundreds of other metal detectorists who were at the rally from across the country. "We had been talking about the one thing neither of us had ever found was a Roman silver coin," Mr King said. "We started detecting and I saw Steve bend down and pick something up and he said 'you will never guess what I have just found'. It was a silver coin." Having taken the frequency of the coin, Mr King then continued and within seconds found the same frequency and other coin. A third enthusiast, Andy Bijskerbosh, from Blackpool joined them. "The beeping and finds brought us closer and closer together until we were standing over a small patch of earth," Mr King said.
At which point, one of them recalled what the Code of Practice for the Treasure Act (p. 20, point 33) says and the Code of Best Practice for Responsible Artefact Hunting (section 2 point 2) says and ... oh. No, nobody paid any attention to those two documents, you see it's apparently affiliated to the NCMD, and therefore "NCMD Code of Conduct [...] rules apply" (shut the gates). A recent rally cost ten quid a head, and there were greasy burgers and toilet tent facilities available in parking area. So, on realising there was a bigger concentration of metal at that point... instead of acting responsibly and leaving it to be dealt with properly, Steve, Steve and Andy decided to carry on. 
 "We put a probe in and the signals went off the scale so we dug down about a foot and a half. [45 cm PMB]. Eventually I put my hand down into the soil - and brought up a huge pile of silver and coins, with the brooch sitting right on the top. It was incredible." Mr Lloyd said: "It was at that point we rang John Parry and said that he had better walk over to us and look at what we had found." The trio, together with Mr Parry then started the process of contacting the finds office and laying out the coins where they had been found.
Mr Parry said  "I am so glad that it was such an important find and that we had responsible metal detectorists who did the right thing and reported the find.". Well, the right and ethical thing would have been to STOP digging, so that the nature of the deposit could have been properly documented. anyhow, it gets even more Bonkers-Britain archaeoridiculous:
So important was the find that archaeologists returned to the area last week and unearthed further silver remnants. The site of the find is being kept secret [...].Once the crop on the field was harvested last month archaeologists returned to the land last week for a dig at the site of the find. More fragments of hacked silver were found and are now being sent to the British Museum.
So, what August 2019 - ten months later? What crop would that be then? What archaeological context was revealed by this 'dig'? What site context and what landscape context? Anyway, the FLO seems quite happy to be able to fondle and display this stuff, irrespective of the lost context:
Speaking at the treasure inquest, the county's finds officer, Mr Peter Reavill, praised the men for helping to unearth part of Britain's history. "This is a hugely important discovery from the Dark Ages," he said. [...] Mr Reavill explained that when the Roman left Britain they took with them their coinage monetary system the people that were left in the UK could no longer use coins and so instead cut or hacked up silver, whether coins, jewellery, cups or rivets from boxes to used as weighed bullion.
When "the Romans left Britain" is Ladybird Book history, isn't it? Did they take their cows, pigs and  chickens with them? Probably Dr Reavill knows that in the first quarter of the fifth century, "the Romans" had not "left" Gaul, but the monetary system there underwent the same changes as the adjacent province of Britain (NOT "the UK!") under the  Valentinians and Theodosians and then reverted to a gold standard with silver - including in the form of hacksilver. Come on PAS, more information for the public, less of the asinine and retro-historical dumbdown. Please, otherwise what is the point of informing the public at all?

And did Dr Reavill the FLO read the riot act to Steve, Steve and Andy, or read out the two Codes of Practice at the inquest, and was that before or after "praising them" for ignoring them both?

"Cornovii Discoverers" Pay-to-Take Artefact Hunters' Club: Call for landowners to "help uncover Shropshire's history" (aka "fill our pockets")

Rally organiser  Parry
"Landowners across Shropshire and Mid Wales are being urged to work with responsible metal detectorists to help unearth the region's past" (Sue Austin, 'After the Wem hoard: Call for landowners to help uncover Shropshire's history', Shropshire Star Sep 6, 2019).
The organiser of a charity metal detecting rally [...]  said that enthusiasts were helping archaeologists and historians to preserve ancient history. Mr John Parry, from Whitchurch, organises regular rallies on farmland to help raise money for the town's Lions Club [...] Mr Parry is a founder member of the Cornovii Discoverers Metal Detecting Club [...] "We would like to encourage other metal detector users to act responsibly and report their finds to the relevant organisations involved in preserving our ancient history," he said.
So the local "Lion's Club" takes money from an informal group that loots the archaeological heritage for money? If that was Syria... but it's not is it? White-skinned people you see.

Now, when, oh when, will British archaeologists get up off their backsides and explain that artefact hunters cherry-picking the archaeological record for collectables to have or sell, is not (in ANY way) "helping archaeologists and historians" (sic) and hoiking collectable bits out of the archaeological record is damaging it, not "preserving" it. When will we see archaeologists explaining that to folk instead of the usual dumbdown? In the case of the hoard these people found then it's not "responsible' to report it, it's obligatory.

Mr Parry explains all his members are "very passionate" about their collecting activities and "are all thrilled to know that our find near Wem will help local academics and others appreciate the value of reporting"... umm. I think they do not really need this guy to tell them that. It's what academics and others expect of the takers. Sadly, it's the heritage grabbers that need to be made to appreciate the need for reporting. So few do.
Mr Parry said he wanted to encourage other landowners to offer land to search as part of responsible digs and charity rallies.
Well, of course he does, doesn't he? A responsible dig however is not one that you do just to hoik collectables. He also says that if his pay-to-take group can get more hoiking-land: "It will help us to recovering (sic) more of our lost ancient history and thereby fill more of the dark gaps in our country's long and colourful past.[...] "It will also encourage newcomers to the hobby of metal detecting to join an ethical club who adhere to the laws that govern our hobby." it's either dark or it's colourful, Ms Austin, eh? Equally, it is either ethical or it's just legal. When it comes to artefact hunting, ethical means you don't jolly well do it. So please STOP using words you do not understand, Mr Parry.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Come on you Guys, WTF?

As much as I support activists such as  the ATHAR Project ("The Antiquities Trafficking & Heritage Anthropology Research (ATHAR) Project investigates the digital underworld of antiquities trafficking on Facebook."), there are limits. WTF is this?
@ATHARProject · 1 godz.  By cross-referencing information in posts we collect we’re understanding more about how objects move and when The Roman mosaic below was offered in an antiquities trafficking group on #Facebook in June 2017. The profile and group context suggest it was in Syria... 1/
In June 2017 some creep showed the world a pornographic mosaic totally unlike any ancient representation - yeah really, but entirely the sort of thing that a Muslim might think would appeal to corrupt western tastes.  It's probably a rape scene. The guy looks like the sort of hirsute hunk you'd find in an eighties porn or 'nudist interest' mag, his rather large (depilated) member is depicted in detail thrust into the protesting mermaid who is struggling to escape his grasp but he uses his free hand to grope her breast. As mermaids are not really a Classical thing (sirens were half avian), I am wondering, if this is really a Syrian product, whether there is some connection with what Lucian of Samosata wrote about the Phoenician and Syrian temples he had visited in his treatise Περὶ τῆς Συρίης Θεοῦ/ De Dea Syria and in one of them the image of a female deity with a fish tail. Anyway, this mosaic is not really to my taste, so I've blurred out the bit in the middle of the picture, but I think you can use your imaginations.

So then ATHAR join the dots (the central red modesty square is mine too):
ATHAR Project @ATHARProject · 2 godz.
W odpowiedzi do @ATHARProject 
The video here was captured by activists on the ground. It was taken in Istanbul in January 2019. 2/2 Reminder: illicit antiquities are not banned goods on #Facebook even though pillage and trafficking in conflict is a war crime 2/2
The crime here though is fraud if that is being sold as authentically ancient. I have no doubt that its on a phone in Istanbul, though am less sure that what seems to be the same object really was in Syria two years earlier and not 'made in Istanbul'.

It does not matter. It's  accepting fakes like this as authentic artefacts and promoting images like this as 'evidence' of claims about the trade do us all a disfavour.  Like this one which is a bizarre piece of 'bazaar archeology' to use Muscarella's term (and I've discussed this before14 August 2018 and yet its still being used).  

But as a general rule, although I would not go so far as to say as some (allegedly) have that "95% of antiquities on sale online are fake", in some categories of online portable antiquities in my opinion, it looks like it is close to that. In others less so, but even in those groups (forgive me for not saying which) there are fakes, some obvious, some things looking "iffy" if you know what you are looking at. Buying things in shops allows you to see up close, look underneath and behind, heft it. Judging something in a poorly-lit photo with just two views of something hinders getting to see it properly before you buy it. Some dealers deliberately cultivate the home-made 'not-very-good-at-taking-photos' mannerism - like the three above, so the buyer is lulled into thinking that the thing they covet may "look better in the hand than in the photo" (it generally does not). 

The internet is full of fake antiquities, and while that is sad (because it creates a false impression of what 'the past' looks like) selling them is not (directly) connected with looting. And if anyone believes that faux porno-mosaic is just what they need to bring a bit of 'cultcha' to the bathroom in their pied à terre somewhere, then (while sad) that's fine by me. It's a piece of kitsch, and rather poorly-made, but hey, de gustibus non est disputandum... Keeps classless numpties buying the real stuff.

2013: 'Studying photos of mosaics smuggled from Apamea proves most of them fake'

Studying photos of mosaics smuggled from Apamea proves most of them fake
19/11/2013 - عدد القراءات : 2548
According to recent information, antiquities forgery has been active in some areas in Syria lately. A team of DGAM’s experts in ancient mosaics conducted a study on a number of photos of mosaic panels believed to be stolen and smuggled from Apamea site; the study showed that most of them were fake despite the good quality and sophistication put into their making.
The DGAM received those photos from some residents of the area. The photos represent themes inspired by Greek mythology and popular images in Syria and the western regions of the Roman Empire in North Africa and Europe, Turkey in particular. Nevertheless, the team’s technical, mythological and scientific assessment of the mosaic panels suggested that they were most probably fake.
Thus, the DGAM would like to shed light on the efforts made by members of the local community all over Syria and the significance of their cooperation in preserving and protecting the archaeological heritage and reducing the impact of the damage affecting it.
some of the photos attached to this news item show some very nice artworks, better than the mermaid rape scene. ARCA adds: "There are/were workshops in/around the towns near Ma'arrat al-Nu'man that produce(d) mosaics exported legally. Kafr Nebel south of Idlib province was the cradle of this craft. The impact of war is the common thread between unemployment and increase in fakes".

Treasure Hunter "Sold Hoard for £1.98 million"

Colin Drury, 'Treasure hunter sued by Church of Scotland over £2m Viking hoard he found on its land', The Independent 15 September 2019.
A treasure hunter is being sued by the Church of Scotland over a Viking hoard worth almost £2m which he found on its land. [...] The 52-year-old metal detectorist sold the trove to National Museums Scotland for £1.98 million three years later, making it the most valuable Viking haul ever discovered in the UK But now kirk chiefs are demanding he hand over half that amount because his find happened on their property. [...] It is said Mr McLennan, a retired businessman from Ayr, made a written agreement at the time to give the church half the value of his bounty. Church trustees are taking legal action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh because they say he has failed to honour that promise. “The church has been unable to get a hold of him," a source told The Sun. "It doesn’t seem like there’s anything that would preclude him from being in touch. It appears to be a choice".
This guy runs a metal detecting business that aims to inculcate ethical practice into the hobby. Retired at 52, eh?

Meet the Minelab Detexperts - Sharon and Derek McLlennan

Derek has held a life long interest in history and historical research, however it wasn't until 2011 that he was first able to get into detecting. He's wasted little time though as he's paired his love of history with his passion for detecting and now works as a full-time 'Hoard Hunter'. Along with his wife, Sharon, he has identified, discovered and helped in the recovery of fourteen treasure hoards across Scotland and England. His finds have ranged from the Bronze Age (3500 BC) through the medieval period (14th Centure AD). Derek's most memorable, and most significant, find was The Galloway Hoard, regarded as the richest collection of rare and unique Viking age objects ever found in Britain or Ireland. On top of his time in the field, Derek also writes about metal detecting for a number of international detecting and lifestyle magazines as well as assisting in research for several international televisions shows.
Milking the system, a professional hoard hunter, just as well that the Treasure reward is discretionary. And just for good measure, another ML Detexpert and finder of the Galloway hoard:

Sharon first picked up a detector as a child in outback Western Australia, her earliest detecting memories are of pulling the bright yellow gold from the deep red Australian dirt. Many years later in 2010, seeking a better work-life balance she got her own detector and headed out into one of Scotlands worst winters. Since then, detecting has become her life. With so many great finds to her name it's difficult to narrow down her best detecting experiences but for Sharon, discovering a Roman sling-shot hoard and her involvement with the discover (sic) of The Galloway Hoard are right up there. However one of her best finds was her now-husband, Derek, who she discovered while out detecting in a field. Combining detecting with her background in teaching, Sharon has developed and delivered educational programmes around the experience of detecting, to both school children and PTSD veterans. She passionately believes detecting is a positive and beneficial experience for all and is dedicated to sharing this with everyone she can.

Not in it For the Money, Or Perhaps We Are Really...

Reportedly, a treasure hunter is being sued by the Church of Scotland over a record £2million haul of Viking relics he found on their land (Kevin Duguid, 'Treasure hunter sued by Church of Scotland over record £2million haul of Viking relics he found on their land' The Scottish Sun, 14th September 2019) Kirk chiefs are said to be demanding Derek McLennan, 52, hands over £1million after he allegedly snubbed a written agreement to give them half the value of his bounty. This refers to a much trumpeted find from Dumfries and Galloway in 2014
The metal detector buff now faces a legal challenge at the Court of Session in Edinburgh [...] One source said last night [...] “The church could do a lot of good with that money. It was church land they were on [...] “You don’t want to get in a legal wrangle over it. Why would anyone let him on to their land again — or any other detectorist?” [...] the retired businessmen, from Ayr, was promised the bumper reward three years later under Scots treasure trove laws. His payment was raised through more than £430,000 in public donations, £1million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, £150,000 from the Scottish Government and £400,000 from the Art Fund. [...] In this case there was a written agreement between the general trustees of the Church of Scotland and Derek.” [...] The Church of Scotland confirmed their court action.
His former detecting pal talked about the fracas:
The minister said charity champion Derek felt let down by experts drafted in after his discovery. He added: “He felt very badly treated by the treasure trove system in Scotland who decide on rewards. Experts took control and he was pushed to the edge a bit. He did everything by the book in terms of working with the system. “But he felt because of the way he was treated by the system he wanted to put the whole thing behind him.” 
Here's a text about his complaint about his 'treatment'  and here's about those public funds he gets.

It seems it could be even worse if you look at the comments. A "Susannah McSweeney" alleged on 15th September:
Derek also broke gentelman" agreements with his team mates, including my husband. There was 4 of them including Derek's wife sharon, not just the church of Scotland. [...] The other 2 men including my husband were also snubbed by Derek after the viking hoard was claimed and since broken off all contact and never had any recognition for being there to unearth the treasure. What was done was shady and despicable.
What is worth noting however is that the Church claims there was a written agreement, not just a "gentleman's agreement". If what Mrs McSweeney alleges is true, one detectorist first pushes aside three other blokes, and then attempts to lay claim to the entire reward for himself alleging that he was "sidelined by the experts". If that is true, all very odd and immature.

The BBC also has picked up the story: BBC, 'Church of Scotland sues for share of £2m Viking treasure', 15th September 2019.

There is an added detail in another source (Russell Blackstock, 'Kirk to sue treasure hunter claiming he reneged on promise to share proceeds of £2 million Viking hoard found buried on church land' The Sunday Post September 15, 2019):
Following the find, Mr McLennan and his detectorist wife Sharon launched a firm called Beyond The Beep, to work with the Coming Home Centre for ex-forces personnel in Glasgow and veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress. [...] Derek McLennan found the Viking treasure just months after discovering hundreds of medieval coins in Twynholm, Kirkcudbrightshire, in another landmark find. He only started using a metal detector a few years before two stunning discoveries.
Beyond the Beep does not seem to be all that active these days. Here's John Winter enthusing about it. But here's the Minelab spiel on it:
We'd like to introduce Sharon McKee and Derek McLennan of Beyond The Beep, Scotland, to our Treasure Talk audience. Sharon and Derek have 12 years of combined detecting experience and for the last few years have used a wide range of Minelab machines, from the GO-FIND Series through to the GPX 5000 for personal detecting and to promote responsible detecting through their not-for-profit company, Beyond The Beep. Since February 2015, the couple have been regularly providing outdoor learning experiences in schools, and they have also created and implemented a detecting programme for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). [...] Derek mostly uses the CTX 3030, but when on a hoard site, the GPX 5000 comes out, as he loves the depth these machines can reach. [...] After the discovery of The Galloway Viking Hoard, the enterprising pair created their company Beyond The Beep to teach about responsible detecting and to promote the health and educational benefits that detecting brings [...] The programme is also supported by the National Council of Metal Detecting in the UK, to which Beyond The Beep is affiliated.
All in this together, eh? Derek McLennan is also a ML detexpert Now that GPX is one of those "depth advantage" machines that Heritage Action and I have been going on about for a good few years now, but the implications of which are being systematically ignored by the archaeological community, but look at this remark:
Last week, Mr McLennan’s friend and fellow metal detector enthusiast, the Rev David Bartholomew, who was with him when he made his discovery, told how [...] Mr McLennan had searched the unidentified area of Church of Scotland land for more than a year in the hunt for treasure. [...] Mr McLennan, 50, unearthed the valuables two feet beneath the ground – well below the depth his machine should pick up a signal. [...] Mr Bartholomew said: “I would never have found the hoard. Derek did because he is a gifted detectorist. “I was just pleased to be part of an amazing day.”
and would like that money from a pagan hoard to go to the Church and used for the benefit of the parishoners.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Treasure Catalog

A portable antiquities advert someone spotted

"Shhh, Dont Rock the Comfy Boat": No "Finger Pointing Tolerated" in UK Archie-land?

Don't walk on the grass
Spencer Carter, FSA Scot, Rescue Council, Research Fellow at Durham University (the one who "apologise[d] for [the existence of?] Paul Barford" on Facebook when the Durham FLO had a go at me there), apparently in response to my comments on the Countryside treasure hunting advice article says "I do prefer the debates more than polemic finger-pointing". I must say Dr Carter FSA has not been so blatantly noticeable as a participant in public debates on collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record of Durham or anywhere else, maybe I've missed some. But I'd say that in general it seems many archaeologists are happier keeping out of anything like debate about these issues, thus letting the treasure hunters dominate the discussion unchallenged as happened here (and then they moan about that and play the misunderstood victim). It seems to me that Dr Carter FSA would prefer the "finger pointing" not to refer to those who surely should be taking part in such a public debate and are not, and would prefer that we all just let UK archaeology's collective passivity in this area go unremarked?
No prodding sleeping dogs then? Just ignore the lack of activity and keep quiet, not rock the boat? I get it.
Dismissive FSA (Scot) response:
Spencer Carter 🌈Pro EU | #Archaeologist FSA Scot@microburin·1 godz.
Have a great weekend.
As I am sure a couple of thousand members of the public with their metal detectors will be too, taking advantage of the mild weather, while arkies skive off from talking about the effects. Well let's see the effects here and talk about it next week:

Or would that - actually addressing what is going on - be "finger pointing" and a bit too polemic for a Durham Research fellow? And if he disagrees with me and does not think the PAS should be making (should already firmly have made) its mark as the go-to body for information on portable antiquities issues, then who should be, in his opinion?

Calling a spade a spade

Phacha Phanomvan @phacharaphornp·19 min
#Looting has transformed into community recreation. As long as we don't regulate small #antiquities trade, early historical and Iron age grave sites is constantly under threat. This is happening in the borders between Myanmar and Thailand. #artcrime

"community recreation", so a bit like "metal detecting" in the UK, then? But of course there it is done by white folk, so we don't call it "looting", do we? But it is unquestionably the same thing - collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record.

"Our expert guide on how to hunt for treasure in the UK and best places to find it, plus an overview of famous treasure finds".

Interviewed tekkie
 Paul Coleman (Getty)
Twenty years the UK's Portable Antiquities Scheme has been telling the British public website all about archaeological value. Twenty years of outreach, contact, persuasion, dissemination. And the results? Pretty pathetic, it seems. Obviously they'll need another twenty, forty, sixty years to make an impact. Meanwhile the exploitation of Britain's heritage landscape goes on, encouraged by the clueless media, like this website, published by Immediate Media Company Limited (under licence from BBC Studios Distribution): UK treasure guide: best places to find and how to hunt for treasure :
From Roman coins to fossils and priceless gems, stones and metals, there is a wealth of hidden treasure in the British countryside, which is just waiting to be discovered. Our expert guide on how to hunt for treasure and where to find it in Britain [...] According to recent treasure reports, Britain is enjoying a boom in treasure hunting [...] According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport treasure report, in 2016, there were 1,116 cases of reported treasure finds. The provisional figure for 2017 was 1,267 making this the fourth year in a row when the number exceeded 1,000.
The text mentions " What type of treasure can you to hunt for in Britain, plus best places to look, 1 Semi-precious stones..." alongside "history hunting" metal detectorists. So are they looking for history or Treasures? Each historical find however has its value expressed in pounds as well as the usual superlatives. The text is anonymous, which is just as well, because it is horrendously muddled (the Staffordshire Hoard is not seen to be the same as a "Hammerswich hoard", shipwrecks are mentioned twice in te lisrts of categories of Treasure you can go a'hunting for [no mention of permits]). The unnamed author convinces you that if you go Treasure hunting, you need to " Visit the National Council for Metal Detecting (NCMD) for metal detecting code of conduct". Could there perhaps be another one you'd need to visit, where's that then? Hidden away... This damaging text has every appearance of a space-filling hasty pastiche knocked up in a photo library with a pile of books by the Greenlight Press by somebody who has access to an interview with detectorist Paul Coleman - the dug-up-in-one-day-into-a-Sainsbury's-bag Lenborough Hoard, and with some press clippings featuring the by now stock characters, wholesome Dave Crisp, the commercial Peter Welch (runs the 1,000-strong Weekend Wanderers Detecting "Club" commercial company, Steve Critchley former NCMD chair, and Lance and Andy, the main fictional characters in the fictional series Detectorists, who now creep in everywhere. Total disaster, as Andy Brockman (@pipelinenews·14th sept 2019) notes:
Country Fail: an "expert" article about treasure hunting in the UK which fails to mention the legal protection for scheduled monuments, shipwrecks, the Receiver of Wreck, or even the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
What use is a PAS that cannot get the message across any way? How much effort is being expended in Bloomsbury to brief journalists and editors so this sort of mindless fluff is not produced and published? They have finds days, why not press days? 

Friday, 13 September 2019

Friday Retrospect: The Day the PAS Said Hoiking Hollingbourne Grave was Doing the Right Thing

PACHI Friday, 28 February 2014, Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Bonker's Britain's Top Museum Said "we Done Right"?
The trashing of what looks like the remains of an Anglo-Saxon grave [at Hollingbourne] in east Kent was apparently "praised" by the understanding folk of the BM's PAS. Amazing. Here's what they are saying, first in the press, where everyone can see it. First a quote from metal detecting's long serving (25 years practice) ambassador, on the Kent Mercury website, "Holedigger pete" wrote (23-02-2014 19:42:57):
Christine,  [...]  everything was done by the book [...] the arch's said we done (sic) the right thing, [...] we [...] have been praised by the way we delt (sic) with the find on the day
More explicitly, "Holedigger pete" wrote in the same place (22-02-2014 17:19:40):
[...]  everything was done by the book [...] The BM and our FLO said we done (sic) the best thing by taking out what we could
Really? The BM actually said that? If they did they've lost all ambition to ever see any best practice among their partners. Time to call a halt to this, methinks. Other forum members are looking on and drawing conclusions for themselves, Peter Pearce (Re: Saxon Hoard found Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:53 pm) wrote: 
Staggering, what a find and what a stroke of luck that you were advised to keep searching that area. The god's were smiling on you for certain.
The gods, or the BM? There is a difference. A stroke of luck that they actually advised the  club to "keep on hoiking", great fun was had by all trampling around in a dirty big hole in the most sensitive part of the feature, trashing it totally, but what a lot of luvvery stuff ("roobies, look at the culah!"). The finder "Whatunearth" (Re: Saxon Hoard found Wed Feb 19, 2014 9:40 am) after describing what he did Sunday afternoon added:
I finally managed to get in contact with the FLO the next day and having explained the situation to her, she agreed that it was for the best.
Hmmm? Best practice epitomised Ms Jackson? I do hope that as part of the outreach paid for out of the public purse you sent him a link to the Codes of Practice where it says that. Could I have it too, this new revised code? The most telling statement about the involvement and reported approval of the PAS comes from a slightly later text on a public detecting forum ("Holedigger Pete", the club chairman Re: Saxon Hoard found Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:10 pm): 
when the hoard was found, we rang our FLO Jennifer Jackson on the day and could not get hold of her. The next day Jennifer rang Greg and said she could not do nothing till Friday or the following week Greg informed about this and i was not happy. I tried to contact Jennifer but her phone was turned off[.] due to the find being close to a main road i contacted the 3 top people at the BM and sent them pictures these are the people who got things moving. They told me the site could not be left till Friday and they would get a team together for the next day and that the police would be informed about the area to keep an eye on it. Yes i had thought about this happening one day and what to do, on the day i done what i thought was right to take out as much as we could without any damage to the area i could not sleep at night knowing nighthawkers could rob the site. The BM told me i did the right thing and i stand by what i did. [Last edited by Holedigger Pete on Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total].
Did they indeed? Has he got that in writing? The BM (apparently on Sunday - but there are some doubts about the timing of all this stemming from the above account compared with others) had pulled out all the stops to organise an immediate response team the next day, but the tekkies (instead of taking turns to sit up there a few hours each to guard the site until the next day so it can be examined intact by the archaeologists) deep-hoik the rest of it out and the next day (?") phone the FLO to say what they've done and both the FLO (and according to this account) the BM "told me I did the right thing"? By what right would the BM do that? 

If the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme actually said that, I think there are 62 million taxpayers (not to mention archaeologists and lawmakers) who have a right to hear why. If the detectorists quoted above are not telling it like it was, then equally there are 62 million taxpayers (not to mention archaeologists and lawmakers) who have a right to hear what the PAS actually did say to these people and how they actually do envisage best practice in cases like this.

Now, just to refresh your memories, this is what we are talking about (follow links): Monday, 3 March 2014 Roundup of Concerns over "Near Maidstone A20" Anglo-Saxon Grave Disaster Then there is this: Thursday, 27 February 2014 PAS- Curt, Unhelpful and Covering-up? which is entirely out of place - and now five years later, I do not expect we will get any kind of a comment out of them.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

PAS Where is the Truth? Twenty two thousand what?

Mumble-mumble, grab the podium
In the video of the talk "making metal detecting great again" (sic) Mike Lewis mumbles his way through a read text, much of it is the usual PAS gumble-fluff, some interesting signs that the
confidence is seeping away though. Here's something I want to put on record before the video is pulled like so much PAS stuff, at 236 seconds he says:
"now, to date more than 22000 individuals have recorded, um, the 1.4 million finds with the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which is a significant number, especially giving (sic) that it is generally estimated that there are ten to fifteen thousand detectorists in the UK, this is even more significant if it is reckoned that only a small proportion of individuals are likely to detect frequently".

Odd that he does not mention that the latest published estimate of the number of detectorists in England and Wales (so just part of the UK) is 27000, and that the NCMD have for a number of years saying their estimate is 20000. So the PAS is already compromised by not being a bit honest about the true nature and range of those estimates (the "10000" figure is the one I was proposing back in 2005/6 based on what dealers were asserting at the time).

The fluff statistic given in a presentation of this official body specifically is about "22000 individuals". Are they not able to sort out their data to give the number of "metal detectorists"? Because those "individuals" are all finders, and that will include little old ladies finding things weeding their rose gardens, dog walkers, and the people doing the fieldwalking that produced all those Welsh flints a decade back (and one or two archaeologists who got into that database too). What an odd way to put it, "22000 individuals have recorded [sic - reported really]". And its conveniently twice his estimate-drawn-from-thin-air of the number of detectorists... He implies this is over the entire twenty year period resulting in those 1.4 million objects. 

I do not know how carefully the PAS head prepared that text, but what I do know (because I've checked) is that the PAS annual reports VI-X (so, 2003-7) give some very clear figures for the number of non-metal detectorists in that total. Check them out yourselves, the total is 8349 individuals.  After 2007, they stopped reporting those figures, and at some time after that, the "finds days/surgeries" were drastically (?) reduced in frequency in many areas.

But if in five years, there were 8340 non-detecting "individuals" bringing forward artefacts, that is an average of 1670 members of the public came forward with finds each year. If this went on at the same rate for the twelve (publicly) undocumented years, that would be another 20040 individuals. So in theory, the number of public reporters (non-metal-detectorists) alone would be 28390. What are there "figures" the head of the PAS is trying to foist off on his CIfA audience?

When, actually, will be get an evidence based presentation of the numbers of individual detectorists presenting finds from recording? One that does not count multiple times the same individual coming forward for several consecutive years? Is that personal input of those responsible individual detectorists really so difficult to extract from the "records", that the only way they can have their work shown is amalgamated with the rose-garden weeders and dog walkers to produce 'official' figures that are easy to show are probably totally false? 

It is odd that in Dr Lewis's presenting a text called "Advocating a more archaeologically minded approach to hobby metal-detecting", we once again get more pro-collecting propaganda from one of the hobby's most persistent claqueurs. An archaeological approach would be to look at the effects of this erosive activity on the fragile and finite  archaeological record and decide what in the best interests of that resource would be the way to deal with then problem. Twenty years have shown that the PAS is not that way. Avoiding telling the bald truth about the scale of the problem and the scale of the effects and the degree to which the current method of attempting to deal with it is keeping up with the damage  is not an archaeological approach. It's the jobsworth approach. Archaeology deserves the truth, not corporate fluff. 

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.