Monday, 9 September 2019

Ooo, those Tekkies

Here timeline, 'there' no
Over on Twitter when I questioned a (former) FLO's praise of a recent fluff newspaper article as a 'balanced' account of the issues surrounding collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record, I got into a discussion with a tekkie (Warren Astley, Detectorist, History, Archaeology (sic), Kitchen Fitter, Ex, Royal Artillary (sic); Coalville, Leicester, England) who said too that the article was 'fantastic' [emoticon]
Warren Astley@warren_astley·7 wrz
More finds are made each year through Metal Detectorist than conventional Archeology and its recorded be it from Clubs to individuals we all have a duty to protect our heritage and nurture new generation that are passionate about our past, there are certain individuals that dont.
My response to that (the FLO ducked out and the PAS copied in declined to engage) was to point out that this
"new generation that are passionate about our past" will not thank the present "me-me-me" generation with its tens of thousands of scattered ephemeral personal artefact collections by then dispersed) and hundreds of thousands trashed sites in the UK alone. They simply will not.
and then in response to the 'mine's bigger than yours' penis-comparing contest Mr Astley wanted to use as his argument, I happened to have written a blog post that related to what he had said:
Many thousand MORE artefacts are dug up during collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record in Britain than are currently being, or ever will be, recorded, this is a net loss of knowledge and utter scandal/ Quite a lot that do not, in fact it seems its the huge majority Worrying Statistics the PAS-supporters Will Not Share With You about EBay, 99.8% of artefacts sold by British artefact hunters and dealers are not reported to the PAS /So, Where is this"balance", when the PAS itself cannot bring itself to publicly and loudly air the massive shortfall between the fine words they themselves use of the artefact hunting community as a whole (a"responsible majority") and actual practice? It's public-funded nonsense. 
I also added that the mere digging of "finds"/objects out of an archaeological site by artefact hunting does not generate information. I asked "which produces a greater understanding of the past in all its aspects, please tell us. How would one understand the"finds" without archaeology? What is the PAS if not archaeology?". There was no answer to that relevant question. Instead we got this:
Warren Astley@warren_astley do @PortantIssues @exleicflo i@findsorguk 7 wrz
Most detectorist who have a passion for the hobby are also pretty clued up with regards to artifacts and there use time lines and also conservation , they also record there location and work closely with most FLO,s to protect our history.
Clued up? This one cannot distinguish "their" from "there" or make a plural of FLO. Anyway in the context of what I had said, I asked for clarification of  "there used time lines" and how "history" is  "protected"
when archaeological sites are dismantled to get (only) the collectables out and into your pockets? That's like the Buddha heads at Angkor?
Because of course that is excactly what it is. I then added the point just to expand on the 'greater understanding of the past in all its aspects' through achaeology and its methodology (the PAS and FLO still being absent):

Paul Barford@PortantIssues·7 wrz  do @warren_astley @exleicflo i @findsorguk
An actual archaeologist would in the same circumstances not only already be as 'clued up' on all these aspects but in particular record a good deal more than the bare 'location' of selected removed objects to protect ALL the information of which its location is just one small part.
That seems pretty clear to me (except I am still unclear what he meant by "there used time lines" and how you can protect something by trashing it with a spade). But before Mr Astley could respond, another tekkie (new to Twitter - he's a "will of the people, I'll never vote again" bloke apparently from N. Wales) joins in:
richard wills@rickwills40·18 min
Like to know how you do that on a field that's been ploughed . Most modern fields are ploughed , even pasture ,if you know your farming . Most finds are in danger of destruction and most definitely not in their original position .
Now, actually I do 'know my farming', and pedology/soil profiles. Many areas of land in western Europe fenced into fields or not, and certainly in North Wales in fact have not been ploughed in modern times, much of North Wales because the soil is crap and the slopes too steep - but they are detected anyway.

As for recording a good deal more about a pattern of archaeological evidence across the surface of a ploughed field that goes beyond just an x-marks-the-spot note of where the most collectable objects came from (which is, as I said, just a part of the whole pattern), I really do not know where the FLO is now. This is FLO work. That's what they are paid to do, explain to members of the public 'to raise awareness among the public of the educational value of archaeological finds in their context', no matter if that's a well, or a ploughed field. Or is that just words?

How do we do it in a ploughed field? Well, there's a lot of literature out there about fieldwalking techniques, gridding, sampling procedures nd so on. Lots of it. The PAS website of course does not link to any of it (even though I did spend a long time a number of years ago creating a bibliography of them for their forum - now gone). But there is a handy guide (as far as I can see not linked either on the PAS website - see a pattern here?) Our Portable Past, Guidance for Good Practice (revised version, published 20 February 2018).


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Paul Barford said...

Now there's a novel approach to curbing the metal detectorists. Sneak genital-enlargement products into the cakes at rallies, and then when they've got these really huge organs, they'll not be able to waddle around the fields pinching stuff.

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