Saturday 7 April 2012

Focus on Metal Detecting: How simple logic exposes Britain’s portable antiquities falsehoods

The underlying message of this blog is that various manifestations of artefact collecting cannot be treated in isolation, it is illogical (in fact a deceit) not to see artefact hunting with metal detectors as something in some way mystically separate from any other kind of artefact hunting. That the message is not entirely falling on stony ground is shown by a recent Heritage Action post 'How simple logic exposes Britain’s portable antiquities falsehoods'. Their logic is indeed simple, and - I think - unassailable:
Official British policy on artefact hunting seems to be based on concealing two crucial realities from the public that they really wouldn’t like: that most artefact hunters don’t report their finds and a lot of them flog them. Imagine the government constantly stressing the positives about smoking and not mentioning the overwhelming negatives! “Smokers are heroic and contribute much to our understanding, we need to educate them – not to stop doing it but to tell us about it…..” In fact of course, smoking is bad for you and the government says so. But artefact hunting (including what is labelled “responsible” or otherwise) unnecessarily destroys the archaeological record, the whole world says so, and mining finds to sell is morally grubby – yet PAS hasn’t said either of those things to the public in fifteen years! Why is it only the likes of us that have to point out the realities? Let’s see PAS serve the public alone, not the interests of Wayne who just wants to keep doing what he does. It’s not Heritage Action or Paul Barford who are getting £1,500,000 a year from the taxpayer to tell the public the full, unadulterated truth and to defend the public’s archaeological resource, it’s them.
Thank you Heritage Action, it is good to see somebody looking beyond the spin.

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