Thursday 23 February 2012

Focus on Metal Detecting: American Digger

Artefact hunting American style, New York, NY, February 15, 2012:
Unscripted Series Travels Around The Country Uncovering Hidden Treasure Found In The Backyards Of Everyday Americans
Series Following Former Professional Wrestler, Ric Savage And His Team Of Relic Hunters Premieres Tuesday, March 20 at 10:00 PM, ET/PT

Spike TV ventures around the country in search of historical treasure buried in the backyards of unsuspecting citizens in the new unscripted original series, “American Digger.”
Premiering Tuesday, March 20 at 10:00 PM, ET/PT, “American Digger” follows the American Savage team, led by former professional wrestler-turned-modern- day relic hunter Ric Savage as they scour target-rich areas, such as battlefields and historic sites, in hopes of striking it rich by unearthing and selling rare pieces of American history.
In the US, there are millions of historical relics buried in backyards just waiting to be discovered and turned into profit.
The press release (dated August 11th 2011) is even more explicit:
There is treasure buried in the backyards of everyday Americans but they just don’t know it… until now. “American Digger” follows former professional wrestler turned modern day relic hunter Ric Savage, as he and his team from American Savage target areas such as battlefields and historic sites in the hopes of striking it rich and capitalizing on unearthing and selling bits of American history. The only thing standing in their way are the homeowners themselves, who Savage must convince to allow them to dig up their property using high-tech ground penetrating equipment and one very large bulldozer. What artifacts they find, they sell for a substantial profit, but not before negotiating a deal to divide the revenue with the property owners.
For the broader background, see Heritage Action's comments here. This programme has even got US metal detecting lobbyists worried that its giving the game away a little too much. No "history hunters" here, but people openly out to find the collectably-rare and saleable artefacts. But at least there is a fresh honesty about what these people are doing. As Nigel Swift notes:
God Bless America, where an entrepreneurial or vandalistic spade is called just that, where people dig destructively for money or self and make no bones about it, where archaeologists object to them doing so and make no bones about it and where detector manufacturer Minelab has just donated $41,000 to fight attempts to prevent the destruction and makes no bones about it.

How much less morally repugnant that is than the public hypocrisy that blights Britain – where detectorists all claim they report all their finds even though most of them don’t, where archaeologists pretend to believe them despite knowing the statistics show it’s not true and where not Minelab but you the taxpayer pays not $41,000 but £1,500,000 a year to sustain the activity in its current unacceptable form. And to employ a battalion of archaeologists who, whenever the subject arises, tell your hapless fellow citizens it’s just fine to let absolutely anyone (including ex-professional wrestler Rick Savage – why not?) onto their fields so long as they say they’re “responsible“!

Vignette: "only in it for the history".

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