Monday 20 April 2009

Citizens’ Archaeological Protection Patrols – where are the British ones?

British archaeologist “Jake’s” typical defeatist approach ”Metal Detectorists are here now and we are stuck with em
is put to shame by the story over on SAFEcorner (Monday, April 20, 2009 Organizing local people can save knowledge ) about the proper archaeological investigation of a tomb that would otherwise have fallen prey to looters. The reason it did not is that it was in an area where local archaeologists have organized villagers to protect the local archaeological sites. It is “a really clear example of how organizing local people can save knowledge". Roger Atwood in his seminal Stealing History, page 230, describes the efforts of this type of 'archaeological protection group'. “They scout the land, chase away bands of looters, or they surround them and tie their wrists with rope until the police arrive, and they seize their tools -- shovels, poles, buckets. ...”.

It’s a shame that we can only read about the activities of such patrols among, for example, the villagers of southern America, or southern and eastern Asia. British archaeologists cannot manage to organize similar citizens’ initiative among the heritage conscious public of their own country, simply collectively shrug their shoulders and say that “Metal Detectorists are here now and we are stuck with em”, and decide that if they "cannot" (really?) beat them, they might as well join them as "partners".

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