Sunday, 3 January 2010

Failing once again to face up to the issue

“Not known” is the magic veil that has been relied upon since time immemorial to hide difficult details by the dubious, the criminal, the lazy, the greedy and the morally illiterate in many a field of commerce
writes heritage Journal about some new eBayUK moves to try and sort out the fact that it has acquired the reputation of somewhat of an antiquity sales cesspit. In actual fact however all that has happened is that:

"EBay has drafted words to make it seem otherwise and the British archaeological establishment has said this is all a very welcome development! Hence our thesis: official coyness about the reality of the severe negative impact of legal metal detecting facilitates major heritage damage".
Hear hear. The British archaeological establishment really has a lot to answer for (not only in this regard of course). At times the milieu as a whole comes over as a group of ineffectual wimps and hand-wringing jobsworths when it comes to facing real challenges to the still-buried archaeological heritage. Of course it would be too much to expect more than a handful of folk of such a calibre to speak out against the official doctrine of "outreach" (whatever that really is) to and "partnership" with collectors and despoilers (or simply to continue ignoring the problem) - which is what time and time again we observe from the British archaeological milieu in the area of dealing with artefact hunters, collectors and dealers. Goodness knows how they face up to the developers and other mass earth-movers. Or do they?

Vignette: A RESCUE slogan - can archaeology in Britain do better than voice mere slogans? Like standing firm on an issue like the despoiling of the archaeological record for mere entertainment and profit?

Postscript. What the.... ? I posted a picture of the slogan, and then had a glance at the website when posting a link to Rescue. Just look at what is the top of the RESCUE (let's put that in BIG letters) webpage at the moment? What on earth do they think they are representing here?

Which (in)famous hoard found and then hoovered up unreported for the next ten days by a metal detector using artefact hunter (and then dug atrociously badly by a team of people who should know better) does this glittering piece of Gollum's gold come from? Clue: look back at earlier posts on this blog. Does RESCUE regard this as the essence of archaeology? Is this an example of conserving the archaeological resource (what actually RESCUE set out to press for when it was set up by a lost breed of British archaeologists all those years back), targetting it in an uncontrolled manner by artefact hunters? I say no. RESCUE apparently are of another opinion. You can see there rather wishy washy statement of position on "metal detecting" (ugh) in issue 99 (I think, it might have been 100) of Rescue News. Just what kind of "British archaeology" is RESCUE a "trust" and "independent voice" for these days: the potsherd, posthole and environmental sample type, or the tawdry get-on-the-TV-quick glittery golden Treasure goodies type? This rate, they will not be getting any subscription money from me in 2010.

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