Thursday, 2 April 2020

Seizing the Brownies in Turkey


Turkey brownies
Interesting text by Sam Hardy putting the recent Turkish news reports about police seizing obvious fake artefacts: 'Fuelling of an illicit market and financing of political violence in Syria, feeding of propaganda around the world', Conflict Antiquities 2nd April 2020. 
I missed this one earlier: David Knell 'Leather books from Turkey' Ancient Heritage, 13 March 2019

Narrativisation of things


Some Instagram narrativisation from Lara Maiklem ('London Mudlark')  @LondonMudlark:


I see the PAS is doing its  job as usual. Some coin tourism here: finds.org.uk/Nicomedia (something wrong with the text display here, or is it my computer?).





Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Irresponsible Collecting Comes Unstuck



Such irresponsible collecting “is a crime
against 
 culture and knowledge of immense proportions—
as the facts unfolding under our eyes do prove.”  - Roberta Mazza 


The Museum of the Bible had this
cuneiform  tablet featuring the Babylonian
Epic of  Gilgamesh on display. Photo courtesy
of the Museum of theBible.  

After years of pressure to return potentially smuggled artefacts, US collector Steve Green is returning 11,500 antiquities from his "biblical art collection" (sic) to the governments of Iraq and Egypt ( Sarah Cascone, 'Amid Scrutiny, the Museum of the Bible’s Founder Will Return a Staggering 11,500 Artifacts of Dubious Origin to the Middle East', artnet.com March 30, 2020). 
Questions about the provenance of Green’s $30 million collection, which he began amassing in 2009, have plagued the museum for years. In 2017, Hobby Lobby returned 5,500 smuggled Iraqi artifacts and paid a $3 million fine as part of a settlement with the US government. [...]  Green is now returning an additional 5,000 ancient papyrus scraps and 6,500 ancient clay pieces because their provenance cannot be verified, prompting concerns that they could be looted or stolen.  [...] The Green family “poured millions on the legal and illegal antiquities market without having a clue about the history, the material features, cultural value, fragilities, and problems of the objects,” said Manchester University papyrologist Roberta Mazza [...]. 

The Sting in the Tail of UK Culture Minister's Praise of "Responsible Treasure Hunting" [UPDATED]


Amidst the Coronavirus emergency, the UK’s newspapers are reporting that a total of 81,602 artefacts were recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) of which 1,311 were declared as ‘Treasure’ under the definitions of the 1996 Treasure Act’. at the launch of the Treasure Report, Culture minister, Caroline Dinenage, is quoted as saying that said it was brilliant so many items were going on display in local museums. “Each one of these valuable discoveries tells us more about the way our ancestors lived and I want to congratulate all those who played a part in helping uncover more about our shared history". This jubilation was tempered by the next part of her announcement that did not get such extensive coverage in the tabloid press. It reads:
"It has come to the notice of Her Majesty's Government that there are a substantial number of unprincipled individuals who are not following this example and are just filling their pockets at the expense of the common historical heritage of everybody. My government has decided to take action against the perpetrators. The financial year that ends on March 31, 2020 will see a reassignment of public money from the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which will now go to setting up more regional rural crime units to deal with looters. I would like to thank the staff of the Portable Antiquities Scheme for the excellent service they have so enthusiastically provided over the years. They can be proud of the massive amount of information that was saved, and will share our frustration and disappointment that despite all their efforts, this was just not enough."
The Government released this morning a White Paper containing the full text of the new 'Act to Amend the 1996 Treasure Legislation and to make fresh provision in relation to archaeological material found in the territories and waters of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland' (31st March 2020) and outlining future action that will be taken. Most of this follows the provisions that were outlined in a recent public consultation (Revising the definition of treasure in the Treasure Act 1996 and revising the related codes of practice).

It is about time.

UPDATE 2nd April 2020
Of course, thirty-five people yesterday realised that this was an April-fool post. But the question remains, why?



Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Torah and ring seized by Turkish security forces in the eastern province Muş


Mus (blue)  is well away from the 
area where the 'brownie Torahs' 
have turned up in the past
This is getting to be beyond a joke, and one wonders what lies behind this (Daily Sabah, 'Turkish police nab 3 suspects trying to sell ancient Torah for $1.25M', Mar 25, 2020)
Turkish security forces in the eastern province
Muş arrested three people trying to sell an ancient Torah for $1.25 million. After receiving a tipoff, gendarmerie personnel went undercover as a buyer and caught the perpetrators. During the raid of the houses and cars of the suspects, 25 antique coins, a ring, a metal detector and a clay vase were seized, a statement from the gendarmerie said. In recent years the seizures of ancient books in Hebrew and Torahs being sold illegally have been commonplace.
Yes they have, but not a single one of the cases where the photos have been released is even a tiny bit authentic. They are atrocious fakes, not even looking at all like a real old manuscript. I would be very disappointed to hear that anyone had gone to a Turkish jail for a cultural property offence on the basis of the seizure of crap like this. Also you might be suspicious when you read the same story, time and time again, they seem to always seize "coins" and de rigeur a "metal detector" ... as if that were a tool for "going equipped"... (no comment needed from me...). What actually is going on? Are these people being framed?

Now look at this Torah and ring. I do not know the script, but the ring looks more like something churned out for eBay by those workshops in Thailand that do a nice line in atrocious 'cylinder seals' and awful 'Sassanian intaglios'. The patina comes from a cess pit, which is why the guy is wearing ill-fitting plastic gloves to handle it.  And the Torah... I consulted this with my cat, who seems to know a bit more about the world than the provincial policemen of deepest darkest Turkey. My cat thinks this folk-art "Torah" looks nothing like any Hebrew manuscript that he has seen in his nine lives. He rather thinks the squiggles embossed in the leather look like mouse entrails, or at least a pretty pathetic attempt to fake Arabic cursive. I think my cat is right, and I cannot see why, even if the policeman can't get it, a journalist would not see it.

I would like to know more about why Turkish fakers (and I am sure these are made in Turkey and not Syria) think that old manuscripts, apart from being crudely-bound codices, are made of leather and that leather is always very dark brown. Leather books? It does however put me in mind of a certain group of very dark brown leather forgeries of the Dead Sea scrolls.

I'd love to see that "vase".



Monday, 30 March 2020

On eBay Today



eBay  /Antiques/Antiquities/ Item location: UK Only/ British Antiquities  - 5,838 results

eBay  /Coins/ Coins/ British/ Item location: UK Only / Hammered (Pre-c.1662) 4,045 results

eBay  /Item location: UK Only / metal detectors/ second hand/ 252 results

Let's see what effect the CV19 lockdown and people not being able to work has on these figures. Will we see more ('subsistence') sales of surplus artefacts and machines and will people buy them?

Sunday, 29 March 2020

The Covid-19 Crisis and Metal Detecting" (Part 1)


"I was out on Sunday and in the entire time
I was out, the greatest social interaction I had 
was with the petrol pump....." probono Superhero Member

What do we find when we scratch below the surface of "responsible detecting"?

Take a look (before it is deleted, as I bet it will be when you start taking a look), at this thread on "Detecting Wales" that a reader has pointed me to. It is an absolutely stunning display of everything that is wrong with a lot of metal detectorists in the UK. Read all of the posts (where detectorists declare their right to pursue their hobby at will, despite the lockdown and despite an NCMD ban) and consider whether there is an inkling there of a notion of social responsibility. None at all.

What these self-absorbed people think is the point of the lockdown is to prevent THEM catching the virus. Note how they mention having gloves and masks to protect THEMselves. They will keep away from other people to protect THEMselves. Artefact hunting is all about "me...me... me".

Yet the 120nanometre virus can be spread on those gloves and masks. It can get inside those gloves if they take them off for a moment to wipe their nose.  It can be, or be left, on the petrol pump, and door and floor of the petrol station. It can be spread on their clothes, on their cars, on their shoes. It can be in their hair, or on their pricks if they had a pee out in the field (with or without the gloves). It can be on the drinks can and mars bar wrapper bought at the supermarket the day before to take out detecting. A five micrometre droplet of infected saliva can be airborne about half an hour. It can be in the high street, in a shop, in their road as they get in their car (or even out in the open, in that time it can be blown quite a distance). CV19 can be on everything, and can be taken everywhere. That is the point of keeping everybody from moving about (see part 2 below).

Since this virus has already shown that in the conditions of our modern life (and even when people are being aware of it and taking care), it can spread, contaminate, infect and reproduce with surprising ease, it should be obvious to the thickest of thickoes that something has to change. And that something, obviously, is not going to be 'Covid-19'.

But then, that's just what the experts say. As we all know, there are a lot of people in Britain who have an inbred distrust of educated people and experts. What do they know, when the bloke down the pub says... ? So what if the government says "stay at home"? "What do experts know?". So we get self-centred special pleading gems like this
I totally agree n8, go on your own, stay away from people, call the farmer before you go so you haven't got to talk face to face and wear gloves while there especially for opening of gates etc... Job done. Actually just reading the latest update from ncmd if you follow the above procedures then your [sic] being as safe as you can and obviously they don't condone it but it's open to interpretation...
What lies behind the facade of "Responsible Detecting"? In a few words, a mass of self-absorbed, stupid, selfish, immature and irresponsible individuals.

One wonders how many of these metal detectorists disregarding common decency actually do live at home alone without a family to think about.



The Covid-19 Crisis and Metal Detecting" (Part 2)


What Lies Behind the Facade of "Responsible Detecting"? In a few words, a mass of self-absorbed, stupid, selfish, immature and irresponsible individuals.

Adapted from Wikipedia
You'd think the message of 'Strict rules have been placed on people's personal movement to limit the spread of coronavirus" would be pretty easy for even the thickest thickoes of British society to get into their heads. Well, the British metal detecting community seems to have more than its fair share of the latter. Whenever you see what they are doing and saying, there does seem in Britain to be in general a connection between IQ-deficiency and owning a metal detector.

Slowing the spread of the virus involves staying at home and only leaving it when absolutely, and maintaining social distancing and precautions to prevent carrying it from one place to another at all times (both in and out of the home). Not really all that difficult to grasp.

Astoundingly, the UK has only just now started a lockdown, but its 100th case was on 5th March, and  began its lockdown only on the evening of 23rd March (18 days after the 100th case), by which time the number of cases was already 6650 (with 335 deaths), and going up sharply. I think the graph says it all. Too little too late, that curve is going to shoot up, threatening my family and friends unlucky enough to be affected by Boris Johnson's government's mismanagement of this crisis over there.

It's pretty obvious why Britain has a lockdown. The bit above the second grey line on my figure is what has been happening when the British public were "taking it on the chin" and doing their thing while 'being careful' (following government advice 16th March 2020). That period where people were roaming about set the scene for what is now happening. Disaster.

For the 14 days after the lockdown, that curve is going to continue to exponentially go up, because of all the people infected before it (in the period between 16th and 23rd March). What happens to the number of case, the number of deaths depends mainly on how sensibly, responsibly and effectively the Brits (all of them) can slow the spread of Covid19 now.

As far as I am concerned, metal detectorists are just part of that British society, nobody exceptional that should have any grounds to consider they have special "rights' and an exception should be made for them and their exploitative hobby. Society's safety now depends on them and their actions, sense of responsibility and self-restraint just as much as it does my sisters and cousins who are staying at home with their families and not driving around the countryside to loot the past.




UK Treasure Hunter Flaunts NCMD Ban


With regard to my comments on it being irresponsible to go out metal detecting when there is no ability to record what is found, or react if a Treasure is revealed that needs archaeological attention, it is gratifying to see that the National Council for Metal Detecting has dug itself out of its hole and (Tuesday 24 March 18:13) issued a firm:

CORONAVIRUS: IMPORTANT
MESSAGE TO ALL NCMD MEMBERS

In the light of the Government's latest instruction that people are only allowed to leave home for a few "very limited purposes" (shopping, exercise, helping others, work) the NCMD is now instructing all members to stop metal detecting WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT until further notice. This instruction applies whether you are proposing to detect individually or in a group. FAILURE TO ADHERE TO THIS INSTRUCTION WILL BE INTERPRETED AS BRINGING THE HOBBY INTO DISREPUTE AND MAY RESULT IN YOUR MEMBERSHIP BEING WITHDRAWN I hope that I can rely on your understanding and support during this difficult period.
Clive Coleman NCMD Chairman
Up North, in Lytham St Annes, they probably do not give tinker's about "bringing (sic!) the hobby into disrepute" or understand what the government is instructing. Thus one of them (though we do not know if Andrew Ellis is a paid-up NCMD member - but I guess we are going to find out) is gleefully boasting on Andy Fudge's metal detecting Facebook page that, despite it all, he's outside scouring the soil for collectables. And look what has found: "Two hallmarks in two hours plus a nice little buckle and farm tokens". Two hallmarks means precious metals, doesn't it? Hmm. Ban, what ban?




Just Say No, it's About Responsibility, Not "Reputation"


For some reason I find hard to understand, RESCUE ('the Trust for British Archaeology') sees fit to put on their Facebook page an announcement from the National Council for Metal Detecting banning its members from travelling about to go metal detecting during the Coronavirus crisis  (artefact hunting is not archaeology, archaeology is not just artefact hunting - duh). Anyway, what caught my eye in this was that underneath it, an archaeologist comments:
Benjamin Westwood
I can't tell you what a relief this was [sic] amongst FLOs!
Good on the NCMD for taking the responsible course of action.
Why can PAS staff just not say "no, I'm not meeting you"? Meeting metal detectorists is not, by any means, absolutely necessary. They should be staying at home and so should the FLOs. If "responsible detectorists" were, actually, responsible, they should not need any National Council to instruct them in how to do that (but if you look at the announcement, you can see that what the NCMD is engaged in is an image-saving exercise - "interpreted as bringing the hobby into disrepute"). 

What part of limit the spread of coronavirus do these people not understand? Pathetic. 

Vignette: Pete the Heritage Pigeon from Bloomsbury confused about the 'reputation' of artefact hunting.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Excavated Naqada Artefact on eBay?


I have just spent the last few weeks looking into online sales of Saharan Neolithic ("Green Sahara") lithics and writing them up. It's part of my efforts to stop people referring to Collection-Driven exploitation of the Archaeological Record as "metal detecting". The Saharan material is particularly interesting for a number of reasons - not least  because post-African Humid Period desertification has meant that many of the sites exist as surface scatters on deflation surfaces. There also was an opportunity to make a number of points about "old collections" and the antiquities trade. One of the latter was the difference between the way different parts of the past of the Nile Valley (which runs through the desert) were treated in collecting. The pre-dynastic cultures of the Nile overlap with the "Green Sahara" period, yet are poorly represented on the market (apart from those luscious black-topped wares that appear in the London auction houses with an annoying regularity). There are just five items of the Naqada culture on eBay at the moment. Four of them are being sold by three dealers that... well, dealers.

The fifth is interesting. It is being sold by someone called Mocha Mika (Mocha's Estate Finds  (1119) - 100% Positive Feedback) from San Antonio, Texas, United States. The seller says: "We are a family who enjoys finding, bartering and learning about interesting vintage stuff. It's a great way for family bonding". Hooray. The things on offer range from tat to several quite nice and interesting vintage or antique items that have been curated in Texan homes. But what caught my eye was the only antiquity they are selling at the moment: Antique Naqada I Predynastic Egyptian Basalt Bracelet c3900-3500BC Rare!.
This item is in very good antique condition. This item was excavated, and said to be from the Naqada I period, beginning of the 4th millenium BC (3900-3500BC). It is made from heavy and dense basalt stone. It is still showing some evidence of original polish. It is about 4.4in in diameter and 3in opening diameter, and less than 1in thick. PLEASE SEE ATTACHED PHOTOS FOR BETTER VISUAL DESCRIPTION.

Provenance: Ownership History Available
This item came from the estate of a prominent collector from San Antonio, TX. As providence (sic!), we have a copy of an email when this collector purchased the item in 2004.

Price:US $999.90 (or $49 for 24 months) 
Looking at the attached photos (and I wish they'd not be so lazy and actually describe what they have in front of them but the potential buyer has not - and some of us use METRIC measurements, eh?) we can see that this is not 'basalt stone' because that does not have white veining. So, we really do not know what this is made of because the seller clearly does not either. I' be interested in Mika saying more about the inside of the object, those toolmarks. (Later) ancient Egyptian technology tended to use a tubular drill to make things like this, and it seems from the photos, that this has been carved out and the rough toolmarks left inside. Interesting.

What, actually does it mean "excavated"? By whom, when and how did it end up in Texas? To be legally excavated and exported, it would have to have been digging going on before the Egyptians stopped partition of finds, so that is some time before the early 1920s. Was it? Where, precisely, was it before the "prominent collector from San Antonio TX" bought it as late as 2004? Mika cannot say she (?) 'has the ownership history' without that information.

But if this was a 'grounded' pre-dynastic object, with a proper excavated provenance and proper collection history, this would be a great thing to add to a collection... IF. Has it, in fact? The price, I do not know, but suspect that if one were to look through some old Christie's and Sotheby's catalogues, they'd be selling something like this (with the proper documentation of course) for quite a bit more. So it'd pay to buy from Mocha Mika on eBay. Wouldn't it?

Here though we have the problem. Mocha Mika did not post a photo of that documentation as part of the sales offer (though precisely THAT documentation is part of that sales offer and part of what one is buying). So we do not know what that email said, who it was from, and in what capacity they were operating (dealer, consultant, manager of the excavating institution's archive?).

Because here, how and when it was excavated becomes a crucial issue.

The problem is that this arm-ring (for is is not so much a bracelet) is probably not pre-dynastic Egyptian (and this is where the credentials of the alleged 'excavator' are important).  Very similar items, of the same white-veined grey stone - Hombori marble, were produced in the ethnographic past (and possibly still today) in Burkina Faso and were worn by members of the Mossi, Fra Fra groups as well as Tuaregs. Here are three that were sold as a group by Dorotheum for half the price of the Texas example. There is also an interesting Internet Archaeology article about their manufacture and use that the family-bonding estate pickings Texan family missed in trying to find out about what they've got: Anne Garin Carmagnani and Yvan Pailler (2009), 'Stone Bracelet Production in Mali', Internet Archaeology 26. And on eBay you can get some decent examples for around 30-40 dollars, so a fraction of what Mocha Mika is offering the "Naqada" one for.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Come on ICOM, Sort Yourselves Out


From ICOM

What about private collecting of archaeological artefacts (PAS)? Is it just the "selling" that ICOM has problems with?

It is collecting that is the motor of looting, the middlemen and dealers just fill the gap between!


Thursday, 26 March 2020

Dealing with the Antiquities Trade Virus


1970s dinosaurs Missing the point,
  Telegraph Bob Moran cartoon, March 21
"In the battle against looted antiquities, modern technology and expert knowledge are combining to return ancient artefacts to their rightful owners" witters the Times (David Sanderson, 'Hi-tech hunt for looted antiquities' Thursday March 26 2020).
Egyptologists from the British Museum have identified about 4,500 antiquities thought to have been illegally trafficked, as part of a new tactic to keep track of items for sale online. They have put together a database for law enforcement agencies that deploys sophisticated software to keep tabs on “ephemeral” websites that pop up for a matter of days to sell artefacts and then disappear. [...] "there are increasing moves to sell antiquities directly using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms.”
since 1995 when direct internet trading of antiquities just exploded the old market, he means? The adjectival phrase 'high tech' means here "using the Internet"...

There is a very serious problem in conceptualising the antiquities trade in my view. In fact, there are  two. The first is that we are stuck in thinking of the trade in portable antiquities as it was in the 1960s, when the 1970 UNESCO Convention was written. This necessarily refers to the pre-1970 market, and it is where we are still conceptually, even though that market and its clientele have changed immeasurably since those days. Duh.

Secondly, focusing - as here - on the issue of repatriation (also a child of the 1970s) has overtaken expounding the broader point about portable antiquities collecting. This article in a 'serious' British newspaper does not criticise the trading of loose portable antiquities in itself, just the bits of it that we see as 'illicit' (judging by 1970s criteria). This is *exactly* the same as the "as long as we're/they're not nighthawks" argument condoning collection-driven trashing of the archaeological record in the UK. "As long as it's not illegal, it's OK by us". No, no it jolly well should not be. Wantonly trashing the archaeological record should be something that nobody should be OK with.

So I say that, like with any other kind of a virus, we cannot just treat the nastiest symptoms of the antiquities market, but we need to stop its spread - for example by social isolation of the people that buy and collect this stuff. Remove public acceptance of artefact hunters and collectors, and do it now.  STOP writing the feelgood stuff and tell the antiquities market as it is. Nasty and damaging.

Arty Social Distancing Didn't Work



Infected participants criticise TEFAF Maastricht fair’s decision to open in March as at least 25 positive cases of coronavirus have emerged among exhibitors and visitors.

And the "responsible" metal detectorists thought they could get away with doing a rally in ten days from now?

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Antiquities Trade and Global Inequality


This is an interesting presentation: Jeff Desjardins All of the World’s Wealth in One Visualization (Visual Capitalist January 16, 2020). It is not easy to see where the major antiquities sales and collectors fit on this scheme, and also where the major sources of the looted artefacts are coming from. The antiquities trade feeds of inequalities.


Chart from How Much
If you are wondering where the other countries are the yellow segment at seven o'clock is the answer...  To put this in a bit of perspective, from my point of view the Poland I see around me is 'doing all right' (OK, I do not get out in the countryside much these days), and look where it is.

Here's that wealth mapped out in a more conventional form:

Source HowMuch.net, a financial literacy website

Monday, 23 March 2020

MoB DSS: the Dealers







Or who is there among you, who, if his son
asks him for bread, will give him a stone?

Matthew 7:9


The only DSS are ones that
can be documented as having
come from a specific set
of contexts (Picture, Live Science)
The provenances pages of the Museum of the Bible gives the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls that the Greens bought.
I - Four purchased from Dr. Craig Lampe in November 2009: SCR.000120 (Exodus), SCR.000121 (Psalms), SCR.000122 (Leviticus?), SCR.000123 (Instruction).
II - One purchased from Michael Sharpe Rare and Antiquarian Books in February 2010: SCR.000124 (Genesis).
III - Seven purchased from William Kando in May 2010: SCR.003170 (Daniel), SCR.003171 (Jonah), SCR.003172 (Jeremiah), SCR.003173 (Numbers), SCR.003174 (Ezekiel), SCR.003175 (Nehemiah), SCR.003183 (Micah).
IV - Four purchased from Andrew Stimer in October 2014: SCR.004742 (Leviticus), SCR.004741, SCR.004768, and SCR.004769 (the latter three are unidentified and were not included in the Brill volume) 

 The Kando family fragments were among those first suspected of being fakes by Kipp Davis.

The first purchases were from the US dealer Greatsite.com in Goodyear, Arizona. This is a very oh-so-American setup, read about it here: "In 1987, the International Director of the World Bible Society, Dr. Craig Lampe, decided to create a very special company....". By Divine providence they 'got a great URL' and set about their aim of cornering the global market in rare and antique Bibles.  Hmm. 

Michael Sharpe Rare and Antiquarian Books, Pasadena, California sold one fragment, but does not seem to have much of a web presence. 

Andrew Stimer also does not have much of a web presence, he is reputedly  'one of the world’s foremost collectors of biblical antiquities and classic historic books and manuscripts'. But Brent Nongbri has a few more details (Another Part of Scott Carroll’s Manuscript Network June 17, 2019)
See now: Andrew Stimer to Return Five Papyri to the EES

The MoB page blithely goes on "Unfortunately, little is known about the provenance of these fragments because most sellers did not provide such information at the time of the sale . . . they are not connected to either excavations of Bedouin, and several new collections of this type face the same problem In actual fact thee is no 'problem'. If the items are being offered that it is claimed just appeared out of thin air about 2009, 2010 or 2014... then what is the buyer to make of this? They certainly cannot be claimed to be 'grounded', nor can they be claimed to be of licit origins. They are just floating bits of old tat.

They are not even trophy tat. Their trophyness comes from them being not just some tatty old fragments of parchment found somewhere, but actually BEING a find FROM a specific group of items deposited in a certain place (at a certain time). If that cannot be documented, quite simply, they never were Dead Sea Scrolls.

MoB: Surely, part of the fallout of trying to 'bear witness' by buying trophy antiquities to display and impress (and to 'prove the Bible real')... when the artefacts turn out not to be what you believed (had faith) they were - calls that faith, that belief and your gullibility into question.


Sunday, 22 March 2020

Heritage Action: "Britain abandons recording finds due to COVID19 yet metal detecting continues!"


There are lots and lots of archaeologists in Britain, most of them worried about their own arses at the moment with "the Virus" lurking out there. But why is it again Heritage Action that does their thinking for them ('Britain abandons recording finds due to COVID 19 yet metal detecting continues!' Heritage Journal 22/03/2020)?
PAS has stopped accepting finds for recording. No-one can blame them as many detectorists haven’t been social distancing. They’ll resume recording sometime “in the future” which signals a bleak outlook for recording: most finds don’t get reported already, even fewer will be after a year. So Britain is back to where it was more than 20+ years ago with an army of artefact hunters combing the fields and all the knowledge being destroyed. Except that now Britain’s laissez-faire policies have allowed the army to grow three times larger.
The responsible thing to do in such a situation is to desist, but, facing the closure of offices and workplaces to allow self-isolation through home confinement like in the rest of Europe, metal detectorists seem to be treating this as a hobby, using their extra leisure to rip up even more of the past in an entirely unmitigated fashion ("asked on the largest detecting forum if the virus would curtail their activities scores of them have just said no and that they’ll go out detecting far more!"). HA concludes:
Scandalous doesn’t begin to cover it, it’s legal unmitigated knowledge looting and it should be prohibited while PAS is inoperative – let PAS, Rescue, CBA, BAJR, ALGAO, EH, HE, APPAG et al publicly say so if they agree, which they surely do. And straight away please. They should ask the Government to instruct detectorists to stay at home.
But will they?  If last year 1300 Treasure finds were found, that's 3.56 of them daily. Each day that detecting goes on in England and Wales, the more it costs the public purse to pay the blighters a Treasure Ransom (to STOP them flogging them like the Leominster gang did). Cumulatively it's millions of pounds a year - though I have yet to see official figures on precisely how many. That's millions of quid of public money that could be spent elsewhere, and as the Coronavirus Crisis hits the British economy and society in the coming weeks and months, that money could be better spent elsewhere.

Friday, 20 March 2020

'Cutting Edge British Archaeological Literature' Reviewed: When will British Archaeology Grow Up?


"The overriding theme of the book is the
fascinating relationship between  Roman 
and Iron Age communities and the unique  
Romano-British material culture that this produced." 
Eine Hervorragend Nationale Wissenschaft,


Amy Brunskill has written a review for Current Archaeology of the PAS fluff-book: John Pearce and Sally Worrell, '50 Roman Finds from the Portable Antiquities Scheme'. I've not got the book and am unlikely to get it, but this review tells me all I need to know about it. It all sounds very 1930s/Mortimer-Wheelerish.

We are told the book's got "a range of carefully selected artefacts in a well-illustrated, brief volume, which highlights the way in which the material record vividly reflects life in the past". In other words, the PAS "data" (sic) are used merely as illustrations of the "history" that we know of from other sources, rather than being used as a source in their own right (the latter is, is it not, what archaeology is, innit?).

We learn "the authors have chosen a wide variety of both exceptional and everyday objects that reflect the interactions between Roman and Iron Age cultures in Britain [...] Some of the objects chosen encapsulate the conflict, both cultural and physical, between the different cultures present in Britain". Cultures? In other words, this brand of British archaeology is still stuck in the culture-historical mould of Kossinna and his ilk? What sophisticated post-processual theories and buzz words do they apply to the "data" to investigate these interactions from these loose geegaws?

Look at this:
the Crosby Garrett helmet, a stunning and unusual example of military equipment used in parade drills (see CA 287), represents a clear ceremonial display of Roman power. This contrasts with the linchpins belonging to Iron Age chariots of the sort reported to have been used by the Britons against Caesar, which reflect the opposition with which the Romans were met
Is this archaeology or 'Jackanory'? With reference to the above, first of all, I wonder if this fluff book for the PAS considers the very real questions about the findspot of the so-called Crosby Garrett Helmet. This does not “represents a clear ceremonial display of Roman power” in the context in which it seems to have been found, quite the opposite. Also by the fourth century (the date of the layer through which the pit in which it was allegedly buried was dug) was there a need to demonstrate "Roman power”?

The next irritatingly text-driven (and text-illustrating) comment is also vacuous claptrap. Well, when Caesar venit, vidit, and vici-ed in his four-week second invasion, there was not much of a resistance, by his account, they submitted to him.

Now, who is this "Roman history in fifty PAS-recorded Finds" for? Take for example the book A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps, who was that written for? Is that not a book written, first and foremost for stamp collectors? So who is "50 finds" written for, if not artefact collectors? The latter are a mere minority of the public that finance the PAS. And is there arnything in "fifty finds" that would convert a collector to an archaeologist or is it all just a jumble of object centred glib narrativisation? What archaeological aims lie at the basis of its conception? Any?

British archaeology, surely you can do better than this in your (public-funded) archaeological outreach. No?

And the cover design is crap.


"A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps"


Chris West 2013 A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps
Stamps tell a story―and Chris West's book is the unique, fascinating tale of Great Britain told through its stamps.
Hailed by The Times of London as "a splendid reminder of the philatelic glories of the past," A History of Britain in 36 Postage Stamps tells the rich, layered, and breathtaking history of England through thirty-six of its fascinating, often beautiful, and sometimes eccentric postage stamps. West shows that stamps have always mirrored the events, attitudes, and styles of their time. Through them, one can glimpse the whole epic tale of an empire unfolding. From the famous Penny Black, printed soon after Queen Victoria's coronation, to the Victory! stamp of 1946, anticipating the struggle of postwar reconstruction―A History of Britain in 36 Postage Stamps is a hugely entertaining and idiosyncratic romp, told in Chris West's lively prose.
On their own, stamps can be curiosities, even artistic marvels; in this book, stamps become a window into the larger sweep of history.

The author apparently also produced "A History of America in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps"

PAS Recording Artefacts from Home


In the thread on a metal detecting forum near you: 'Important advice from the Portable Antiquities Scheme on arrangements to reduce CV19 risk (Thu Mar 19, 2020), we read the tekkies' concerns
BAMBAM » Thu Mar 19, 2020 10:26 pm
What about finds we have left for recording ... when do we expect to get them back? Regards. Brian
and got the reply that 'returns may take a few months till things return to normal' (Wuntbedruv: "I wouldn't expect until all this is over, which could be 12 weeks").
Spearhead » Fri Mar 20, 2020 8:07 am
It's understandable and on the positive side I am hoping my FLO will now be able to catch up their back-log whi[l]st working from home with no new finds to record. Previously standard finds recording have been taking 4 to 6 months and I have been limited to recording less than 30 items a year.
This (a) means that they've been finding more than 30 recordable items a year (significance: this is close to the figure that lies at the basis of the HA Artefact Erosion Counter that everybody denies represented what tekkies can find in a year) and (b) we have gone from "tekkies show us all but we can't record all", to "artefact hunters are judging what's important". That probably explains why the PAS database is in general skewed towards coins and pretty pieces. The "data" are not of archaeological characteristics, but of what a collector judges significant...
hat tip: Nigel Swift

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Bloomsbury Bloomer


In Mark Brown's cop-out article ('British Museum says metal detectorists found 1,311 treasures last year' , Guardian Tue 17 Mar 2020 ).
The British Museum on Tuesday announced that [...] In total, 81,602 finds were recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme. [...]”
But then, that's not what their own search engine says, so what is the truth, and why are there two of them? 



Responsible Detecting Diktat from Bloomsbury



PAS to its partners on Responsible Detecting:
Important Advice on Coronavirus
Following government advice, Portable Antiquities Scheme staff are unlikely to be able to meet in person with finders to take in finds or undertake other outreach work. Most Portable Antiquities Scheme staff, including Finds Liaison Officers, will remain contactable by email, so therefore can advise on the recording of finds or the reporting of Treasure. It might be that we ask finders to hold on to their finds (keeping a good record of the findspot in accordance with the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal-Detecting in England and Wales) for full recording at a later date.

For new finds of potential Treasure, finders should notify their local Finds Liaison Officer and/or British Museum treasure team (in England) by email, with photographs of the object and full details of the findspot, finders' and landowners' details, and await further instruction.[...]
But what this should actually read is
Important Advice relating to the present situation.Following government advice, and in order not to create dangerous situations and avoid spreading disease, Portable Antiquities Scheme would like to notify you that staff are unable to meet in person with finders to take in finds, react to Treasure discoveries needing action or undertake other outreach work. Therefore we respectfully ask our responsible partner metal detectorists not to go out unnecessarily, travel around the country and refrain from any digging up of archaeological artefacts that it is impossible in the present situation to record. Stay at home and label all your finds and get their documentation in good order. Read some archaeology books. Please await further instruction.
and it should be on the PAS home page not the front page of the database. 

Pilferers form Mutant Groups


Readers might remember that a group that was out to loot an important Iron Age site - on being challenged by an alert FLO - decided to change their name to escape the bad publicity being associated with their group (Southwest Metal Detectorists, Gone Overnight: Changes Name to "The Detectorists Metal detecting uk" [UPDATED]). Well, I do not know what the latter has been up to, but they seem to feel the need to take on yet another identity. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

BM, One of the Highlights of a year of British Metal Detecting, Provenance: "dumper truck"


If dealers Grebkesh and Runn tried to use
"from a dumper truck" as a provenance...
David Sanderson, 'Treasure island: metal detectorists enjoy bumper year' Telegraph March 17 2020
A 1,100-year-old brooch wrenched from history by a tipper truck and dumped as part of a landscaping scheme is one of the highlights of a year of British metal detecting. The early medieval silver brooch decorated with zoomorphic beasts was discovered by a metal detectorist near Great Dunham in Norfolk during 2019. It was then established, however, that the soil it was found in had been transported from another, as yet unknown, part of the region. “The circumstances of the discovery are odd,” Michael Lewis, who is in charge of the Portable Antiquities Scheme on behalf of the British Museum, said. “It is an interesting brooch though and could have links with the Pentney brooches in the museum’s collection.”
So the PAS records artefacts said to have been found in Palestine, 1847-1915 coins in a piano, and a loose object rattling round in a dumper truck that - like an artefact on eBay - could have come from anywhere. So whatever happened to the dream of the Founding Fathers that this expensive Scheme for puffing artefact hunters and collectors was supposed “to raise awareness among the public of the educational value of archaeological finds in their context and facilitate research in them”? What context is a dumper truck?


Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Britain's Wibby-Wobbly Treasure Results


A couple of months ago, the British Museum refused to say how many Treasure finds had been reported in 2019 when I asked in connection with the series of posts that I made on some observations of the dropping numbers of Treasure finds being reported in relation to the increased numbers of metal detectorists. Now we have those figures and we can see why. First the posts to which I refer, check them out:
Saturday, 11 January 2020: 'PAS and Ixelles/Helsinki supporters, You REALLY need to Explain This!'

Sunday, 12 January 2020: 'PAS's Preliminary Figures for 2019 Treasure Finds Shockingly Low [UPDATED: Don't Worry, It's Just a Lack of PAS Transparency]' (the search facility of the PAS database gave a false result - see the post of 14th Jan)

Tuesday, 14 January 2020: ' Treasure Trace: Why does it go Wibble-wobble-blip?

Tuesday, 14 January 2020 'Speculation on 2019 Treasure case Numbers' (and, see below, I got it RIGHT - ha!).
and what was it they were hiding? Only this (a bit of a cop-out article, this): ' British Museum says metal detectorists found 1,311 treasures last year' (Mark Brown, Guardian Tue 17 Mar 2020 ).
The British Museum on Tuesday announced that 1,311 finds which are defined as treasure had been found by members of the public across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2019. In total, 81,602 finds were recorded with the portable antiquities scheme. [...] The culture minister, Caroline Dinenage, said it was brilliant so many were going on display in local museums. “Each one of these valuable discoveries tells us more about the way our ancestors lived and I want to congratulate all those who played a part in helping uncover more about our shared history.”
But of course when you put those numbers in their context, they tell a tale of destruction. But who gives a tinkers about that when you've got so many glittery bits?

I am sure the metal detectorists are going to say "but it's oop on larst yeer, M8!" but I'd draw attention to the phrase in the third post cited above, a technical term used in statistics, its a "wibble-wobble-blip" that suggests that going out with a metal detector and just finding a Treasure is not the "shooting fish in a barrel' activity that it once was. The treasure is running out. It remains to be seen if the coronavirus epidemic will have much of an effect on depressing Treasure find numbers in 2020, even if it does not, it really seems that there ARE questions to be asked about current UK 'policy' (I use the term loosely) on Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record. The longer it goes on  the longer that totally ignoring the evidence that it is already severely depleting the resource becomes a scandal.What are British archaeologists playing at?

So we've got the Collecting History, but....



Museums. A provenance researcher at a German museum after she says she lost faith in its commitment to return works with tainted provenances (Catherine Hickley, 'She Tracked Nazi-Looted Art. She Quit When No One Returned it' New York Times 17th March 2020)
"I got the impression they didn’t want me there — they really made things difficult for me," Ms. Ehringhaus, 60, said at a meeting in a Berlin cafe. "They needed me for appearances. I felt as though I was being used as a fig leaf."


Monday, 16 March 2020

A lot at Stake: The £26 000 Metal Detecting Rally STILL Going Ahead [UPDATED: No it is not, but You're Not Getting Your Money Back]


Detectival 2020 Tickets. SOLD OUT - Spring Detectival UK Rally April 2020. 'Bringing the world of Metal Detecting Together'. Up to 450 acres of ground to detect. Some tekkie discussion here,
(and an international interview here):
The Detectival Metal Detecting 2-day tickets are for Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th April 2020 [...] Full 2-day event tickets are £52.50 per person with a £2.50 booking fee (excluding VAT). Camping is £15 (excluding VAT) for all 3 nights (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), camping is a set price regardless of how many nights you are staying.
Please be sure to read, understand and agree to our Terms and Conditions on the payment page before you commit to buying your ticket/s. Details on cancellations and refunds are in our Terms and Conditions also under the title 'Terms of Advance Payment'.
So that's £81 per head in fact. The Facebook page suggests that 321 people will be attending (that's  £26 000 the organisers are going to make from ticket money alone). In the terms, we find:
Cancellation by us:
Detectival reserves the right to modify the programme of any event up to the day of the event. If unforeseen circumstances cause Detectival to cancel an event, we shall inform you as soon as possible and offer you a refund or a ticket date transfer.

Cancellation by you:
If you wish to cancel a booking please note the following cancellation conditions:
4 months or more prior to the event – 100% refund minus any booking fees
2-4 months prior to the event – 50% refund minus any booking fees
0-2 months prior to the event – no refund

If you need to cancel within the 0-2 month period, tickets are non-transferable as they are purchased in the attendee’s name, however, we may be able to re-sell your ticket to another customer (only if the event attendee capacity is full), please contact us by email [...].com and we will get back to you to let you know if this is possible.
So basically, if any detectorist has cold feet about attending, the organisers get to keep the cash anyway. But if the organisers cancel it at the last minute, they have to give all the money back  or transfer the ticket to the next Detectival event - but they've already started selling tickets (July 4th) for that one. Awkward. Presumably the EU participants have cancelled - and will the UK borders be open in July?

There is a lot at stake. For tattooed Mark Becher of Hanson's Auctioneers and his partners, it's a lot of dosh. For the participants and their families, its their health.

Update 18th March 2020
It seems that the organisers finally saw sense: Heritage Action  Detectival rally canceled at last!. The website however does not say that. They said Spring Detectival UK Rally April 2020 - POSTPONED (and Summer Detectival UK Rally July 2020, for which they'd already started taking money, - CANCELLED). There is an update to the website:
'We are aware of the financial implications cancelling this event would have on attendees, traders, volunteers and our supported charity, who have all already made arrangements for attending this event, and the implications to any third party businesses associated with that too. This is why we are postponing this event rather than cancelling it'. [...]  We whole-heartedly apologise to all our attendees, traders, charities, staff and volunteers for this decision, we feel that it is the best decision we can make at this time.
It is being "postponed" exactly a year. The rationale for that is not clear, if only to avoid giving people the money back for a service that was promised and now is not available. The customer paid for a service on a particular day, that was the contract. In the same way, it sounds like they had a contract with traders and service suppliers for the event that possibly have also paid for their presence there. If the organisers are breaking that contract, they should refund the money at once and leave it up to the consumer to decide if - in their possibly changed circumstances - they want to invest that money in an event a year in the future or not. In global pandemic times, a year is a long time, many of those detectorists and businesses may not be around after this is all over. Surely, the organisers would have been properly insured against the possibility that the event would have to be cancelled, and traders and attendees should get their money back without further delay. If many of them are prevented from working by the coronavirus crisis, they and their families will need that money.

And how interesting it is to see that the thread on a metal detecting forum near you, the thread was locked immediately after the announcement was posted up there... could it be they wanted to deprive members a chance of saying what they thought about that, or could it be that they wanted to avoid comments on the arrangements made for them (not) getting their money back?

[It is disturbing to see that in their advice to their comrades, the organisers adopt the UK stance that I observed when I visited the UK at the end of February, focused on 'what to do when you get coronavirus', whereas here in Europe, the advice is geared firmly to 'how to avoid getting it'... ]

Any metal detectorists who have any comments on the cancellation of 'Spring Detectival' and the organisers scarpering with their 81 quid that the moderators of the MDF will not allow are welcome to share their views here. No swearing please. 




Sunday, 15 March 2020

The Forger of the Marzeah Papyrus


Professor Rollston's discussion of the identity of the MoB Dead Sea Scrolls Forger recalls another documentary forgery, the so-called Marzeah Papyrus. Like one of the MoB DSS fragments this toured the US as part of a larger exhibition ("Ink and Blood") touted as the "earliest Hebrew writing on papyrus" (aka the "Elohim papyrus").
Where was it discovered? No one knows. When was it discovered? No one knows. It was first published in 1990 in the journal Semitica by Pierre Bordreuil and Dennis Pardee, two highly respected experts in the North-West Semitic languages. In their article, the authors describe how photographs of the document came to them from other scholars seeking their views on the authenticity of the papyrus, but the ultimate source of the photographs and the owner of the artifact was not named. They stated only that the text is "now in the hands of persons wishing to sell it at a high price."
[...] it seems to us that this text shows sufficient internal coherence to dispel the hypothesis of forgery and to present it without prejudice to the attention of specialists.
They base their conclusion of authenticity primarily on the sophistication of the language in the papyrus, concluding that a putative forger must have been a highly trained specialist in the Semitic languages, with a sophisticated understanding of dialectology, as well as a master of paleography. They consider this combination of talents an unlikely one in a forger and conclude in favor of the authenticity of the document.
(Edward M. Cook, ' Thoughts on the Marzeah Papyrus' Ralph the Sacred River Tuesday, January 25, 2005).
Cook himself is sceptical: "its unknown provenance, uncertain history, unavailability for technical protocols, and association with the big-money antiquities trade, especially in the wake of the recent forgery indictments, should make scholars demand a closer examination and more exacting tests before putting any further confidence in the document". Consensus now is that the document was a forgery. Cook's post contains more information on that Ink and blood travelling exhibit that is reported to begin again touring the US (apparently without this document).

The MoB's forged Dead Sea Scroll Fragments and a Profile of the Forger


There is a detailed blog post about the Museum of the Bible's forged Dead Sea Scroll fragments and their of the forger by Prof Christopher Rollston (' The Forger Among Us: The Museum of the Bible Dead Sea Scrolls and the Recent History of Epigraphic Forgeries' Rollston Epigraphy, Ancient Inscriptions from the Levantine World 15 March 2020). I'd not come across this blog before but this post contains some points of great perception and interest. The post is conciliatory in tone regarding the Green Collection's acquisition of these items. To some extent he ignores Green's involvement and refers to the MoB as the acquirer of the trophy fragments (and was earlier quoted in Lizzie Wade's Science article 'Can the Museum of the Bible overcome the sins of the past?', Oct. 16, 2017 )*

The text is a little difficult to follow (chaotic section divisions) but has three main parts. The third - taking up the final quarter of the article - attempts to absolve the MoB for having them, by drawing attention to the way they have admitted post-fact the problems inherent in having them ("The thing that I wish to emphasize here is that the Museum of the Bible ultimately came clean"). That does not interest me here (I do not agree that this is the main issue), but I like the next bit:
They rapidly acknowledged that these scroll fragments might be modern forgeries and that the lore (and documents) associated with their origins might be a fabrication (indeed, I have long said that I put zero credence in any “statement about the antiquity” or “documentation” that is shown to me by an owner, collector, or dealer, as they have so many reasons to prevaricate).
NOBODY should be accepting from an owner, collector or dealer any “statement about the antiquity” or “documentation” that is not independently verifiable. But I am enthusiastic about the use of that word "lore" here, it seems to encapsulate precisely what the problem is with collection histories of many portable antiquities on the market.

The other two main parts of the article are both of much more interest than the repentance of the MoB. The first (two thirds of the text), after a bit dragging name-dropping prologue, is a concise but very informative (with bibliography) mini-history of some aspects of textual forgery ('it should be emphasized that textual forgeries have a very long history, going back to Ancient and Medieval times'). Cases are mentioned and then the author goes into the forger's motives. Well worth a read.

The second is, however, a bit of a bombshell. He gives a 'profile of the forger':
I believe that the forger of these Dead Sea Scrolls forged fragments is a trained scholar in our field, with access to actual ancient scrolls. I believe that the forger forged them during the course of a few months, or more likely, a couple years (this also accounts for some of the variation in the script). I believe that venality (indeed, outright and blatant greed) is a primary motivation (literally, netting the forger millions of dollars for these Museum of the Bible forgeries), but greed is not the only motivation. I believe the scholar of these forgeries is particularly hubristic, and assumed he (or she) could fool all other scholars (and also probably delighted in this assumption). [...] Clearly, I believe that the forger is amoral. Also, I believe that the forger worked primarily alone, but could have included a paid friend or associate who had at least a high-school level knowledge of chemistry (these forgeries are not sophisticated enough to have included the assistance of a trained scholar in chemistry). Also, I believe that a good investigative journalist should be capable, given the resources (e.g., several months of compensated work) of a good newspaper or learned society, should be able to discover the identity of the forger. I hope that the weight of all of the relevant national and international laws is brought forth against this forger (although, as a realist with regard to conviction rates, I suspect that the most that can be hoped is that the identity of the forger will be discovered).
Hmmm. Unfortunately, the evidence behind these assumptions is not given. Is the reason for "a few months" just the variability of the script? Did the forger him or herself get those "millions of dollars" (evidence)? I am not sure why there has to be an accomplice, as if a textual scholar never had A-level chemistry at school and cannot find a chemistry book in a local library. That 'paid accomplice' looks a bit dodgy to me. But I too look forward to a bit of good investigative journalism to reveal who was behind this.

The 16 Green/MoB fragments were bought as four separate lots from four different sellers between 2009 and 2014, but among them are pieces that were allegedly in the hands of the people involved in the 2005 "Ink and Blood" exhibition, and so therefore close to the "c. 2002"  date of the first emergence of the controversial DSS fragments on the global market (Årstein Justnes, 'A Lightly Annotated Chronological Bibliography of the Post-2002 Dead Sea Scrolls-like Fragments' [first version was published 19 August 2016]).

I wonder if Prof Rollston has his own tentative (venal, amoral, particularly hubristic), candidate among his colleagues? 


* He was also involved in an interesting controversy, being fired by the tiny Emmanuel Christian Seminary in Tennessee for writing in September 2012: 'Gender equality may not have been the norm two or three millennia ago, but it is essential. So, the next time someone refers to ‘biblical values,’ it’s worth mentioning to them that the Bible often marginalized women and that’s not something anyone should value' ooops (Robert Daniel Smith, 'Classics scholar, fired from last college for criticizing Bible, will help plan new major at GW', GW Hatchet Feb 17, 2014).


Starting them Young: Grandpa Pig's Metal Detector



Peppa Pig, Grandpa Pig's Metal Detector


About the intellectual level of many metal detector users in the UK, but the diction is rather too good, they'd label it "elitist".

hat tip Alan Simkins

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Cuz That's Wot Matters


All about finding history, passionate interest:
Re: possible hoard!
Post by geoman » Thu Mar 12, 2020 8:18 pm
Of course it will be classed as hoard. A purse spill with coins containing more than 10% precious metal over 300 years old found in close association = hoard. Dont clean them and if you feel they are part of a larger group then secure the area and report them allowing the findspot to be excavated in a proper manner.

The more you mess with the coins, send the details via social media to all an sundry and the disturb the findspot the more chance you have of any reward being abated[sic]. The powers that be are getting pretty annoyed by the propensity of finders not to follow the guidance on what to do when you find a hoard.
or maybe what matters most in Treasure hunting is the reward?




Taking it on the Chin UK Tekkie Style


Cramming them in 2018
The Metal Detecting problem in the UK may well soon be over, natural selection may solve it for us  (“Spring Detectival” still on despite the health crisis' Heritage Journal  14/03/2020)
Spring Detectival 2020 is the latest in a series of similar massive events, this one scheduled for April. They are particularly unwelcome and damaging because of their sheer size and because they cater for detectorists from all over Europe and beyond. It is perhaps a reflection of both the organisers and their customers that despite the current health emergency the event is still being scheduled to go ahead, using the thinnest of excuses: “The risk to individuals in the UK remains low [really? – Ed.] and there is no restriction on travel or trade. In light of this, our events will take place as normal and we will continue to adhere to UK Government guidance.”.
Shades of the same rhetoric that accompanied the Brexit ("we Brits won the War, we beat the Hun, we can beat this"), the pandemic is causing distress, death and disruption all over the world, but "individuals in the UK" are somehow immune.

Of course the organizers have a lot of money to lose if the event is cancelled. They may even have contracted with the landowner to pay a specific sum (maybe paid in advance with the ticket money received). They have overheads to cover and will lose out if they have to refund the ticket money. So it stands to reason that they will want it to go ahead and not have to return the ticket money.

A large section of the British metal detecting community are white males, aged 60+ many of whom are or have been heavy smokers and drinkers. The reported government 'policy' might be to "let it pass through the community" as the country is left to “take it on the chin” (This Morning on Thursday 5 March). If a wave of infection passes through that lot, they will be among those endangered by a collapsing NHS as overstretched British hospitals predictably fill up with increasing numbers of acute pneumonia and organ failure cases. Not all of them will get on the respirators. The UK strategy is called eugenics.

Much as I disapprove of 'metal detecting', I really would prefer those that do it and the more vulnerable members of their families to be safer than reckless.



Update: 15th March 2020
Heritage journal: 'Detectival: shameless organisers still determined not to cancel!' 15th March 2020. 
The Detectival organisers [...] have issued this statement: "[...] we will continue with the event.”
Meanwhile "Italy reported its biggest day-to-day jump in cases of COVID19. 3497 new cases - a 20% increase in 24 hrs. Authorities cited irresponsible behavior by citizens, who despite warnings headed to beaches or ski resorts, especially after closure of schools". Here for the benefit of the numpties, the Washington Post has some colourful moving pictures which explain "Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve”... (Harry Stevens, March 14th 2020).

 
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