Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Milken the Past

The Milken Institute has published a report Financial Innovations for Developing Archaeological Discovery and Conservation (December 2008)which so far has aroused some interest in the world of portable antiquities collecting (outside the UK) but little in archaeology (but see David Gill's discussion here and here). Basically one of the main theses is that rescue excavation could be financed by selling off (part of) the excavation archives (finds) to collectors. We’ve heard that before… Sometimes I wonder why it is that archaeologists are so lax about getting over to people what it is they do, and why and what an excavation produces and what is done with these data.

I was interested in the (all too brief and typically superficial) presentation of the UK’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (page 9). They say “

The scheme has also been criticized by some scholars as legalizing looting, promoting the removal of artifacts by amateurs. Proponents of the plan counter that the looting was happening already and that the scheme encourages those who have looted to at least document what was taken and from where, preserving minimal cultural context.”
Hey guys, talking about this “looting that was happening already”, you are talking about the PAS new partners, the shed-owning metal detector wielding portable antiquity hunters of Great Britain. You can’t call them “looters”, its not politically correct, you know.

1 comment:

Paul Barford said...

See also David Gill's http://lootingmatters.blogspot.com/2009/01/metal-detecting-seen-as-looting-by.html

I wonder if the PAS have written to the Milken to express disapproval for the way their metal detector using "partners" are labelled in the widely-circulated report? I think we (archaeologists AND thus-abused metal detector users) have a right to know.

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