Saturday, 11 October 2008

Provocative "metal detectorist" video

This is a strange one, I cannot quite work it out. This You Tube video "Great Findings in Holland" posted by a Mark Herman seems to be a re-posting of a film a colleague drew my attention to a while back. It must have been withdrawn and reposted. At first sight it would seem to show a rather large personal collection of splendid archaeological artefacts . This is what the author of the film says it is: "Enjoy my Great Discovery`s (sic) with my metal detector in Holland !!" But look again. To my eye there are four groups of objects here. There are things which may be genuine archaeological finds, though who knows where from, they could be from Holland, they don't have to be. There are things which are certainly bizarre 'out of place' artefacts (most obviously a "Greek fibula and a what looks like a Shang bronze vessel ...) unlikely to turn up in metal detecting in Holland. There are Byzantine pectoral crosses and Pannonian brooches and belt fittings. And then there is a large number of items which are of a type sold by Bulgarian artefact dealers on a certain well-known internet auction site as "authentic [freshly looted in] the Balkans", but which are in fact fakes, some clever, some atrociuously bad. Spot the patinated metal casts of... plastic toy soldiers (!) at the beginning of the film (41-43 seconds). These are all types well known to the artefact collecting fraternity, there is an online gallery of them on the Yahoo AncientArtifacts forum (you have to register to see it). Once you know what they look like they can be spotted a mile off. The fourth group are objects which its impossible to say from the video whether they are authentically ancient artefacts or not (I have my doubts about some of the ironwork for example).

So what is going on? Perhaps somebody who has bought a lot of things on eBay wants to show off their collection and for some personal reason wants to pretend that like a homegrown Indiana Jones they found it all in Holland of all places. Perhaps somebody who wants to start dealing in these artefacts has put up a video attempting to give them a false provenience as having come from recent metal detecting in Holland. I don't know, its a very odd video, showing objects that in my opinion cannot be from archaeological sites in the place which the "finder" claims he found them. This collection once again raises a whole bunch of questions about the private collecting of and the market in archaeological artefacts of undocumented origins.

1 comment:

Paul Barford said...

The original video seems now to have been disabled, but interestingly can be found embedded in a number of sites all across the blogosphere. All very odd still.

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