Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Metal Detecting Ancient Woodland


I was alerted by a reader to some metal detecting videos on the "iDetect" You Tube channel that shows a bloke hoiking aarttefacts out of what passes for ancient woodland in the UK: He says:
all the idiots/the uneducated/ the oafs of the world of Metal Detecting [should] have their contact with the outside world cut off. I refer specifically to a video from 'YouTube Superstar' iDetect uploaded on Sunday 20 October 2019 which very clearly shows him pilfering antiquities from [ancient woodland] These idiots need to be stopped before further damage to the record is caused. [...] Behaviour of this 'idiots' type hurts me to my soul. Where is the education? Where is the drive to learn about the area, where is the ambition to share their findings? All disregarded to increase their following. What is English Heritage doing to properly protect these sites and stop such oafs rampaging through British history?
The video (below) is pretty shocking, detecting in ancient woodland where there is no ploughing and the coins are within inches of the surface (No gates to shut as per NCMD, but "UKMetal Detectorists' Code of Best Practice for Responsible Treatment of the Archaeological Record" anyone?). ? He also notices that once he's stripped the artefacts out, no more are being brought to the surface, the site is simply trashed and 'gets more difficult to get fings from'. He says right at the beginning that he'd been metal detecting there a year earlier and spent a lot of time there. Refers viewers to the "fallen over tree' that he'd been hoiking stuff from earlier. He said he had the gamekeeper's permission - no mention there of the landowner that I heard. Near the end of this over-long look-at-me exercise in ego-stroking we hear the bloke say "Oi've got a bucket full of Roman coins, they don't do anyfink for me". I reckon listening to the way the man talks "educating him" would be a bit of an uphill battle.

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TREASURE IN THE ANCIENT WOODS??? posted on You Tube by iDetect 35K subscribers ( 6,272 views) 
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But it gets worse, my reader is convinced the Roman material coming up here is from a known site:
Sparsholt Roman Villa. [...] I know this for two reasons. Firstly I spent a lot of time on that excavation and as it was one of my first it is in my memory as if it happened yesterday. Secondly another archaeologist I keep in touch with from that area walks their dog on the country park where the villa is sited. She sent me the link immediately, she is 100% sure it is that location. She is going there tomorrow to take images which match the exact location they filmed from to pass to Winchester City Museum who are the custodians of the artefacts discovered. 
Now if this is true, Sparsholt Roman villa is not only a known site, but it is a scheduled site. Is this video evidence of illegal artefact hunting? watch this space.

The video channel has lots of films, how many of them are made on the same site?

Some pasture detecting ("double dipping") too:
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WTF! FIRST HOLE TREASURE FOUND..posted on You Tube by iDetect 27 May 2019 


Sunday, 20 October 2019

Papyrology Bingo


Created by Jona Lendering @JonaLendering featuring frequent phrases heard in discussions in papyrology:



"Ancient Artifact" Yahoos Closed Down



The aptly-named Yahoo "Ancient Artifacts" discussion list run as a 'public group' by Tim Haines is at last closing down.
Yahoo Groups is shutting down after more than 18 years, and the Verizon-owned company is deleting all content from the site in mid-December. "Yahoo has made the decision to no longer allow users to upload content to the Yahoo Groups site," the company said in a notice to users. "Beginning October 28, you won't be able to upload any more content to the site, and as of December 14 all previously posted content on the site will be permanently removed. You'll have until that date to save anything you've uploaded." [...] Although the Yahoo Groups site will continue to exist after December 14, "all public groups will be made private or restricted," Yahoo said. Users will continue to "be able to communicate with your groups via email and search for private groups on the site," and admins will retain "limited access to group settings and administration tools," but that's it. [...] Yahoo launched Groups on January 30, 2001, saying in a press release that the site would help users "build relationships, stay in touch, share ideas, and discuss interests through the convenience of popular e-mail and Web-based tools."
In 2010, Yahoo said there were 115 million Yahoo Groups users and 10 million groups, eWeek reported at the time. Yahoo also boasted then that it had contracts with about 100 carriers and handset makers around the world to preinstall Yahoo apps on mobile devices.  [...] Obviously, Yahoo Groups lost prominence as social networks soared, and the Yahoo business in general declined throughout the 2010s. Verizon bought Yahoo's operating business for $4.48 billion in June 2017, forming a new subsidiary called "Oath" that included both Yahoo and AOL.
Oath (now called "Verizon Media") failed to compete effectively against Google and Facebook in the advertising market, and Verizon has responded by repeatedly cutting the division's budget and staff.
Here, before it disappears, is what it says in the blurb about the AA group:
Group Description
eBay is awash fake artefacts: it's a minefield for the inexperienced collector, and all too often even professionals need to compare notes to keep abreast of what's happening in the marketplace. This group came together to fight antiquities fraud on eBay and the Net in general.  We're an open group and very broad based in the range of subjects that we like to talk about, but NO POLITICS PLEASE, since we are a peaceful tribe and greatly dislike flame wars. Any artefact dating from China's Ming Dynasty or earlier is sufficiently 'ancient' to attract our interest. We welcome many new collectors, and have many highly experienced and qualified members willing to offer help and advice, including many of the best antiquities dealers on the net, as well as Phd's, university professors and museum curators. Feel free to ask for help identifying items, ask for approximate values, background information, whatever. If you have some news from the world of antiquities to pass on, this is the place to do it. We are committed to responsible antiquities collecting, and members have compiled a voluntary code of conduct for collectors: http://tinyurl.com/ancientartifacts [dead link for many years]
Dealers and individuals are welcome to post details of their own items for sale here, as well as links to eBay and other sales.
Tim Haines (listowner)
Group Information Members: 3384 Category: Antiques Founded: Jun 7, 2002 Language: English Group Email Addresses Post Message : ancientartifacts@yahoogroups.com Subscribe : ancientartifacts-subscribe@yahoogroups.com Unsubscribe : ancientartifacts-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com List Owner : ancientartifacts-owner@yahoogroups.com






Saturday, 19 October 2019

Archaeology's Artefactual Backlog


Michael Press @MichaelDPress criticises archaeology's greed to acquire "new' material that cannot possibly be processed (19th Oct 2019):
One thing that strikes me about the Hobby Lobby/Oxyrhynchus fiasco: It points to the unfathomable amount of ancient documents and other artifacts that remain unpublished -- and not even fully processed! The Oxyrhynchus papyri consist of hundreds of thousands of fragments gathered more than a century ago, and yet we still have little idea what's contained in most of these documents. The same is true of the Cairo Genizah -- witness recent crowdsourcing efforts just to sort these hundreds of thousands of documents over a century later: https://scribesofthecairogeniza.org Or the recent post on a previously unknown Ibn Gabirol poem: Fragment of the Month: October 2019 In October 2019's Fragment of the Month a new poem by Solomon ibn Gabirol is found in plain sight.lib.cam.ac.uk I can't even count the number of excavations in Israel from 50 or 60 years ago that have seen no final publication. And yet -- rather than process this material, everyone is rushing to gather new material! New excavations! Or, even worse, embrace unprovenanced material! There is a real lesson here about the dire need to process this material. What we have are discipline-level failures in archaeology, papyrology, and more, to deal with this problem. Material is stolen or disappears, huge amounts of data lost. What will we do about this?
The same goes for the greed to get our hands on the hoiked hauls of artefact hunters who've raided the archaeological record for collectables. How many of the Treasure finds from the last two decades of activity of the Treasure Act have seen proper, monographic, professional publication? That is a serious question. may are displayed in museums up and down the country, how many have more than a summary publication?

The PAS collects what it calls 'data' about some of what artefact hunters hoik out of the archaeological record, yet where is there a properly-presented study of collecting habits based on this information? Indeed where is the one on how it looked ten, fifteen years ago, and the one on what has changed since? Such a survey is vital in order to understand what is collected in terms of the archaeological evidence it would have been (and which supporters of the PAS approach fondly think it still is).  Yet all we get is "wotta-lotta-stuff-we-got" jubilation (and "look at this interesting thing-gonna-tell-you-a-story" superficiality), and no holistic meaty synthesis of what it all means. All those 'data' - on what?



UK's "Floating Culture" Crisis in the Making


EBay seller  (uksales(9054)'Lizzy's Bits and Bobs', Nottingham NG13 8BA) has a 'Matching Pair of Large Anglo Saxon Saucer Brooches, Chip Carved & Gilt, 5th - 6th Century ' for sale. They are not on the PAS database, or any other:
I’m selling these on behalf of the same lady whose husband had all the cut half and quarter Hammered Silver coins. I’ve been advised that these are a matching pair and as such, rarer than the sum of the individuals. Comes with a ticket saying what they are, where he bought them and how much he paid (I’ve digitally redacted that).
I don’t know if weight is important but I’ve included images of the brooches in my scales. All the proceeds of this sale, and that of the other Saxon brooch she has (I’ll list that for her once these sell), after Ebay fees, will go to the widow. [...]
In fact she has what she says is a shield knob:
Anglo Saxon Chip Carved Gilt 6th Century Shield Stud - Beautiful!! (B371) From the same source as the large saucer brooches and again, I’m selling on behalf of the widow.
The most likely source of a matching pair of saucer brooches reaching the antiquities market would be from the robbing of a female grave. Some time before 1989 the grave was penetrated and stripped of some of the diagnostic finds, and without any problems were on open sale in the centre of York (just down the road from the CBA) when an anonymous bloke bought it 30 years ago but did not enquire (or if he did, preserve) any findspot data or information about title to sell and whether the landowner was part of the deal. Now he's died, his widow is also cashing in on the deal. An archaeological context has been damaged, leaving so many questions unanswered. And what happens when 27000 metal detectorists with collections all die? Have we any archaeologists who want to discuss the issue of all that "floating culture" they've turned archaeological evidence into? Any?


Not Just an Oxford Prof?


Candida Moss, 'Hobby Lobby Scandal Widens as Museum of the Bible Admits Oxford Prof Sold Illicit Papyri to Green Family' Daily Beast 14 Oct 2019
In an online comment Mike Holmes, who heads up Museum of the Bible’s Scholar’s Initiative, stated that the second buyer was “Khader M. Baidun & Sons/Art-Levant Antiquities of Israel. The exact circumstances of how those two items moved from Oxford to Israel are unknown to” the Museum of the Bible. [...] Additionally, a member of the Baidun family was arrested in Israel in 2017 following investigations into a separate antiquities smuggling scandal involving Hobby Lobby. As revealed by The Daily Beast in 2015, Hobby Lobby was subject to a federal investigation for illegally importing illicit antiquities in 2011.
2011?

Statement from Prof. Dirk Obbink

 
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