Wednesday, 9 September 2020

There are Bottle and There are Bottles


Another piece of unimaginative and uninformative gatekeeper/dumbdown "public outreach" from the PAS. "Finds Friday: Do you know what these are?". When in a short time a member of the public (John Bunyan.descended from immigrants) identified it as a "pilgrim's Ampulla", he got a "yay" from the FLO.... and nothing else.

I am at a loss to know what the educational value of that exchange was, and what Mrs Simmons who lives next door to my Mum would make of that (if she ever bothered to find out what the PAS says about anything). So the FLO is preaching to the choir, which is not the same as public outreach.

There have been recent research projects on these ampullae based on PAS records. There is material about them in books, articles, though there is not yet a BM recording guide for them.  But you would think for all those millions of public quid spent on the PAS something a bit more educational and multiculturally enlightening than "yay, a pilgrim's ampulla". What Mrs Rashid who lives down the road from my sister wants to know is what was a "pilgrim" in this context? What do they need "ampullas" for? Mrs Simmons also does not know; she was last in Church in the primary school carol service nearly half a century ago.  

Here's another bottle, a brown glass beer bottle. Any paper label has gone but it has the embossed legend: '
No deposit - No return - Not to be refilled'. Just a modern bottle. But its findspot is known, in a forest outside a small town in northern Italy where it was dug up by artefact hunters. More than that, it was found with a large number of similar bottles in a rubbish dump left behind by a Wehrmacht unit fighting on the Gothic Line in the spring of 1945. But there is more to that, these bottles were produced in the US and originally carried beer to US, not axis, troops. It is unlikely that they got into the Nazis' hands from the US Fifth Army coming up from the south, it is probable that, like much else they were captured from overrun US units in the battle of Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge). This narrativisation (the details are published in the Polish metal detectorists' magazine Eksplorator of Jan 2016) however is based on research, not the kind UK detectorists do (to find potential productive sites to plunder), but the kind their central and eastern European fellows do, where they use the documentary evidence and context in the ground in a way unthinkable to the average British Baz Thugwit. 

One would have hoped this is the kind of approach to artefacts from artefact hunting we'd see from the PAS FLOs. Not "I know what this mysterious looking thing is, can you guess what it is, and I'll tell you if you're right". 

1 comment:

Brian Mattick said...

Maybe you're right Paul that Eastern European detectorists may often be a step up from their UK fellows. A couple of people from Heritage Action attended a "Polish Metal Detecting Rally" back in 2012 and reported back:

"Let us say, first of all, they struck us as generally a step up from many of their English counterparts. More polite, better educated, and by all accounts keen to do the right thing. (Does the European approach of having rules attract more thoughtful people than the British one of no rules? Could be.)"

No rules, eh? So it's legal innit!

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