Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Repression or Conservation?

Somebody sent a comment to this blog and I idly clicked* on the profile of its sender (one d511kx ) and came across Gareth Marklew's blog with some interesting content. A little way down he announces:
"I think I've just got involved in a flame war on an archaeological mailing list. Almost makes me feel young again... (In case you wondered, it's all about whether the Treasure Act 1996 should be amended to include individual coin finds and non-precious metals. Some metal detectorists seem to think that's jackbooted oppression by The Evil Establishment, of which I am, apparently, a representative.)"
This seems to be the post he is talking about, answering a militant tekkie in full "I am being repressed" mode. I noted one of the comments to Gareth's blog:
This has been a significant argument in France. Several sets of WWI [trench - PMB] armour have found their way onto the market. As any soldier will tell you the only way a whole, useful suit of armour ends up being buried is if no one had the time to take it off the dead body that was wearing it. The French realised that metal detectorists (sp?) were looting grave sites and came up with a novel and effective solution. If they catch you using a metal detector on an archaeological site or battle field then they crush your car. No fuss or argument, just bye bye car. I know lots of very envious, English Archaeologists.

Well I suppose it is indeed a tool accessory to the offence. Many metal detectorists consume gallons of petrol getting to their scattered search sites yearly. Perhaps it is time for her English archaeologist friends stopped wishing they had some legislative clout to deal with archaeological site depredation by artefact collectors and came out of the cupboard and said (and did) something about it.

Why would an artefact hunter feel repressed by robust discussion of the effects of what they do on the archaeological record? They can answer back, politely with reasoned arguments or less politely with rabid rant, but the archaeological sites they pick on have no defence, just the archaeologist and people who care.

* I was half expecting to find that the gobbldygook name referred to the little boy's Billericky Dad.


Anonymous said...

Apologies - I meant to sign my name to my comment, but forgot. The gobbldygook name's a hangover from my university days - I never got around to finding a new username for blogs, forums and things.


Paul Barford said...

I get them all the time, usually metal detectorist types. Did that Britarch discussion come to any conclusion or did they allow the impudent tekkies to deflect it off-topic as they always do?

Anonymous said...

I don't think it got deflected so much as people got tired with hammering their heads against the brick wall of illogical outrage that was being thrown up. There's only so many times that you can point out that "People will break the law" isn't actually an argument against changing the law before you realise some people just won't listen.

Hopefully 'though enough people will listen, eventually.


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