Thursday, 9 May 2019

When are we going to tell Hoikers Again to Stop Trashing Our Past?

Classicist John Ma (@Nakhthor), ancient historian, author of Antiochos III and the Cities of Western Asia Minor (OUP 1999), Statues and Cities (OUP 2013) follows me on Twitter. He 'likes' the appropriate things, makes some good comments from time to time. One such followed my tweet on the reported activities of two treasure hunters in Lincolnshire:
"Rob said the pair started digging after their metal detectors began making noises" They tend to do that, in the presence of buried metal. The trouble is it seems from this report they did not know when to STOP (Stop Taking [information about] Our Past).
Unlike the current fashion paraded by the majority of my British archaeological colleagues, I see absolutely nothing wrong with telling greedy collectors to STOP taking our past.

What is reported as having happened here is that two metal detectorists hoiking away collectable items, emptied almost all the coins out of a deposit, leaving only ten of them in situ, along with a bit of pot and some stones - and then the archaeologist who came along to deal with it was missing quite a lot of the information needed to fully interpret the find. The artefact hunters had taken away the ability to interpret the context along with the coins they scooped out of their metal detector hole.
John Ma‏ @Nakhthor 20 min temu
W odpowiedzi do @PortantIssues
          Stop Trashing Our Past
and I think that is very apposite, artefact hunters are not just taking the "things", but destroying information by doing so. This raises the point to what degree the old STOP campaign was object-centred, which is why the collecting debate became sidetracked into one of ownership and access, focused on the tangible values of an archaeological deposit rather than the intangible ones of information content.

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