Sunday 21 August 2011

The British DYCAAS Doctrine Explained

Heritage Action has highlighted a new trend in modern British archaeology. The increasing trend of acceptance of DYCAAS, Do-it-Yourself Community Archaeological Artefact Stripping. The idea is that sites are dug up by a local archaeological society with mechanical excavators, the collectable and saleable artefacts taken out and the rest discarded, and the proceeds go to deserving charities.
100% of any government Treasure rewards could go to the charity, 100% of all the other finds could go to the charity and 100% of the finds would be willingly and accurately reported to PAS (making the exercise less damaging than any metal detecting rally in history!)
The suggestion of course is tongue in cheek, but as HA suggests it illustrates two truths:
First, it shows up the illogicality of British official policy. Big Society or not, The Establishment would never get involved in a stunt by a local community to dig up artefacts to raise money for charity. They’d see it as crass and uncivilised. Yet that’s what they do in the case of charity detecting rallies which produce less benefit to charity and cause more damage to the archaeological record.

Second, it confronts detectorists with their own dogma. They endlessly opine that the way to combat nighthawking is to invite them to strip sites that might otherwise be nighthawked. DYCAAS is the product of identical thinking. Amateur archaeologists would be invited to strip sites that might otherwise be subjected to charity metal detecting rallies since that would deliver, beyond scope for serious denial, more benefits for charity and less harm to the archaeological record. A group that proclaims its primary concerns are to serve the public interest, raise money for charity and preserve history could hardly object to that.

What they, and their partners the PAS and their archaeological supporters, will actually do is to keep quiet and not say a word, hoping nobody will notice what HA wrote. That's the usual approach of both groups. After all, its just trouble-makers making trouble again, these are not "real" issues are they? Not as real as "is there a bar in the site hut? ", or "Three coin hoards from Shropshire" or other such stuff British archaeologists DO talk about more willingly.

Vignette: after the digging-holes-for-charity-and-my-artefact-collection mob have been through, the archaeological record is left full of holes. ("ah, but we fill are 'oles in", they say - not understanding a word of what this is about.)

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