Thursday 26 April 2012

Detecting Under the Microscope: "Find UK archaeological sites near to..."

There has been a revamp of the ARCHI "find an archaeological site to take things from" website (a fully-searchable database of the positions of more than 145,000 UK archaeological sites). Among other things, an online gallery has been added to their search pages.
Each particular search is now associated with 'carousels' of images depicting particular Roman Mosaic themes. Developments such as this are very important to us because they help us in our aim to help our users build upon their existing knowledge and provide a platform to transfer knowledge and appreciation of Ancient History [...] we hope the images in the new galleries on the ARCHI search pages will provide a 'portal to the past' for all. Please be aware that the images associated with our 'Site Name' search are of an erotic nature, however, bear in mind that the galleries have been built with a view to challenging our modern worldview and help us see the world from a Roman perspective.
A thing also to be borne in mind is that many of these images are not from mosaics at all, but mural paintings. It seems that UK metal detectorists consider it somehow "challenging our modern worldview" to see fuzzy pictures of couples bonking in various positions. How do metal-detectorists procreate?

 It is interesting that the current galleries concentrate on "the Romans" (some of the stuff they show is Greek in fact). Many surveys show that what metal detectorists most frequently go after are Roman sites with their easy pickings of pretty and easily understood geegaws. We know so much about Roman civilization from the written records and a shapely piece of metal picked up in a field by Terry Thugwit the detectorist can easily be related - without the need for any other information (by by using what Polish scholar Felix Topolski called 'extra-source knowledge') - to the "history". The collectables are used here merely to "illustrate", not investigate and write, history. Of course when the artefact hunter has taken it out of the ground and added it to his own personal collection, the evidence attached to that object in the ground can never be used to its full potential, it is and will ever remain a decontextualised geegaw.

Future ARCHI galleries apparently include "cropmarks" which are narrativised thus:
Over the next few months we will be adding images of interesting cropmarks to the ARCHI search pages. The purpose of this is to help users understand and interpret cropmarks with a view to gaining a deeper appreciation of the ability of our ancient ancestors to see the landscape features necessary for their survival which, in most cases, are completely invisible to the modern eye.
So not then their ability to dig big holes which get filled with earth?

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