Saturday, 26 September 2020

More Asinine Bloomsbury Guessing Games

 British Museum 


Can you imagine CERN giving the public information about its equipment like this?

So why do archaeologists feel they have to do the dumbdown? 

Now, the BM catalogue entry says this:

"[ErnstHerzfeld purchased this object in Baghdad for the sum of 10 rupees from Daud Salman in 1923 according to his Notebook 89, where it is entered as item 150 (Freer Gallery of Art & Arthur M. Sackler Gallery archives, Smithsonian Institution)".
So, this is an ungrounded artefact removed to Prussia from Iraq during the British mandate, and the identification by the non-generic term "finial" is not based on any facts deriving from its archaeological context. It's here not because it can tell Brits about Iraq's past, but because it "looks cute".  Pathetic. Can't Bloomsbury's educators do any better than this fob-off-the-hoi-polloi upperclass twittery

Also, given the predominantly sedimentary geology of Iraq (ergo oil) and adjacent SE Syria, would it not have been a useful topic of public outreach to discuss the significance of it being (they say) of pyrophyllite [ a member of the same group as talc and serpentine] which is a metamorhic rock. There are some deposits in the Zagros region but quite sizeable ones in what is now Saudi Arabia. As well as elsewhere - on what grounds is this thing assigned a date and culture if they came from the market?



Brian Mattick said...

In my opinion PAS dumbdown has two aims - to appeal to detectorists and to give the public and legislators the impression it is outreaching to and communicating with detectorists, thereby bringing them into the conservation fold.

Unfortunately, acquisitive and destructive metal detecting has been on an upwards trajectory for 23 years and the fold is still pretty empty.

David Knell said...

I gather "finial" ranks a close second to "ritual" when archaeologists haven't actually got a clue what an object is or what it was used for.

It would make more sense if the BM followed up by posting an image of a similar one still in situ - but I suppose that would run the risk of undermining the superb superficiality of their 'outreach'.

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