Wednesday, 8 January 2020

University of Helsinki's 'European Public Finds Recording Network (EPFiRN)' Website now Live

The European Public Finds Recording Network (EPFRN) website, hosted by Helsinki University, is now online.  The European Public Finds Recording Network represents several publicly accessible recording schemes for archaeological detector finds in European countries and regions (Denmark: Digitale Metaldetektorfund (DIME)England and Wales: The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS)Finland: FindSampo / Löytösampo / Fyndsampo - project blog, resource currently in development, Flanders (Belgium): MEDEANetherlands: Portable Antiquities of the Netherlands (PAN)). This network aims 'to support research and collaboration between the archaeological profession and metal-detecting communities, develop best practices, and promote international cooperation'.

The website has several sections:

News: just one item at the moment,

Vision and aims: the typical pro-collecting fluff, disregarding all of the issues that do not fit into the cuddly-wuddly picture. There is, after all, big grant money involved in making this look like a 'thing' and apparently it is not a care that it's actually an academic institution running it...

'For metal Detectorists': Note not 'for collectors' and totally ignoring other types of archaeological collecting. The mental straitjacketing of the PAS is very visible here in the composition of this page. Yet it was the same authors of this stuff that were emphasising that 'metal detecting' was different in various areas.

'For Researchers': "We are convinced that there is substantial potential in exploring our datasets from a supraregional angle" for making dot distribution maps and 'looks like' typologies. But the fact that in each region material could be being selected and collected according to different principles (the website is silent on this) means that these 'data' may not be comparable. Yet, if you look at the sidebar, it is totally inconsistent in the way it presents the ancillary material. So Denmark has guidelines and England and Wales have none? Code, rallies, landowners, conservation guide, etc. This looks like a spacefiller and not the results of any kind of reseach. 

Resources: The different schemes making up the network and "relevant publications by members of our group". Wow, look at how they describe Hardy's paper here:
A collective response to a paper challenging our philosophy that a collaborative approach to non-professional detecting can, on balance, be beneficial to heritage management and scientific knowledge.
That's a wholly dishonest representation of what Hardy actually wrote about - but reveals the motive behind their noxious attempt to trash it - yet avoiding discussing the core issue that Hardy raises or actually providing substantive arguments and figures of their own.

Then you have some contact details for Deckers, Dobat (Minos), Heeren, Lewis, Thomas, and one Anna Wessman (Uni of Turku).

The blurb says:
The EPFRN is not a new organisation. The participating researchers have been in close contact for many years now, discussing and supporting the various finds recording schemes that make up the Network. As the 'North Sea Finds Recording Group, we published a first version of our Aims and Visions in 2016. With the addition of Finland's SuAlt project, we changed our name to better reflect not just the expanding geographic scope, but also the broad perspective on public participation in archaeology we hope to promote.
No mention here of the several grant-giving organisations that made the formation of a network at all a possibility.  Then we read:
If you are a heritage professional and want to learn more, or even get involved, feel free to get in touch. If you are a detectorist, we refer you to our dedicated page where you can find all necessary information. You can also keep up to date about our activities and other news through our Facebook Page.
If you try to follow the link on 'how to detect legally and responsibly in each of our member countries and regions', it does not actually work. How about ethically? You can hunt big game responsibly, hunters respect their own code of conduct, that does not make such hunting ethical. And certainly there is nothing here that counters the argument that on balance, despite what they say, Collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record ["non-professional detecting" sic]  is damaging to heritage management and scientific knowledge. The problem is that from this academic resource, not to judge by the reading list or anything else on it, the reader will not get that balance.

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