Tuesday 31 July 2012

Detecting Under the Microscope: And The "Real Issues" Are?

There does seem to be emerging evidence that metal detector use damages the cognitive processes. Over on a UK forum is a comment on this blog (by one pseudonymous "geoman" - Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:56 pm) which reinforces my conviction that metal detector users over there have difficulty in reading plain n English and joining up facts and ideas. He writes:
I see that the Warsaw Windbag is giving this post [he actually means the thread "Re: What do Saxon Buriel Ground lumps look like please" discussed here] his Internet Troll treatment - i expect he has very little to entertain him these days so its back to PAS knocking mode and of course detectorists. Bet his buddy Swifty will be chipping in a comment so his post is not another nil comment one as seems to be the norm for him. When you read this Paul why not start attacking the real issues such as the destruction of archaeology in the Syrian civil war, the problems in Mali where certain fundamentalist groups are busy blowing up ancient monuments and for some real daring action the illict excavations/looting of artefacts funded by the Mafia in Italy ? Bet he takes the easy route and avoids these real issues. 
On the contrary, anyone with more than a passing familiarity with this blog will see ample attention paid to the activities of organized criminal groups, not only in Italy and Sicily, in the trade which is associated with antiquity collecting - the same antiquity collecting to which I relate metal detector use. That Geoman cannot be bothered to read it does not mean it is not here for others to find.

This pseudonymous "Geoman" refers to the question of Mali that was in the news recently and asks why it is not on my blog. [Before I answer that, I'll point out that I cannot say I have seen floods of ink spilt over this problem on metal detecting forums ("all passinitely intrestid in ther past") or PAS webpage either.] Geoman apparently has not noticed the big orange and white letters across the top of this blog. They spell out (to those that can put them in the right sequence in their head) that this blog is primarily about "Portable Antiquity Collecting Issues". The Mali news items referred to the destruction of above-ground tombs and mausolea. These are not portable antiquities. I really cannot cover every single heritage-in-danger story from all over the world, that is not my aim, and nor do I have the time and resources. I concentrate on those stories that present a picture (as full as possible is my aim) of the issues I see in PORTABLE ANTIQUITIES COLLECTING. This is my blog, my view. In the sidebar on the left however there are links to other blogs and web resources on related issues. They are there not as decoration but with the intent of facilitating access for people who want to look into the related issues in any detail (so not barely literate UK metal detector wavers on the whole). You'll not find such links on any UK metal detectorist's webpage or forum. I am sure there are references to the news stories on pickaxing of tombs there for those who need to see it discussed. When they start digging up antiquities that start appearing on the dealers' webpages or being flogged off alongside metal detected finds, then you'll probably hear lots about that from this blog.

Syria is a problem. Getting reliable information is very difficult. Last night I actually had dinner with the director of the Polish mission responsible among other things for the work of our team out there and he is very frustrated by the lack of information about the state of the site, the storerooms, and the local people with whom they had built up such a close working relationship. Believe me if there was any reliable information from Syria about portable antiquity looting that I could report from first hand sources, Geoman could read all about it here. At the moment most of the stories are very vague and ambiguous. There is information being published on the internet (including an active activist Facebook page) and Geoman obviously missed my post earlier on in the war about it. The issue of Syrian antiquities currently on sale as this war developed has been raised here more than once. Geoman is obviously not bothered enough about checking his facts to note them. Obviously for those who find reading words laborious, it is easier to say what is allegedly "not" here than check to see whether that is true. Who then is the "windbag"? I have a problem with some of the reports currently coming out of the country in that they seem to be in part engineered to influence public opinion about one or the other side, and it is unclear what actually is true. PhDiva had the same problem about a video showing "looting at Palmyra" (where the Poles dig)  which might be real or might be staged. I am more inclined to see it as fake. When I know something with any degree of certainty about Syria I will write about it, but getting reliable information is still a problem.

In some way Geoman would like his readers to believe that a metal detectorist taking a spade to what might be ancient earthworks with absolutely no idea what he is doing is somehow not a "real issue" like what is happening in Mali, Syria and Italy. I think it is. I think it -like the PAS -  is part of the same phenomenon. Those who would like us to believe otherwise are the ones avoiding the real issues.

As for "comments" - the Geoman  is welcome to enter his objections to what I write under my post so that readers of my blog can see what he suggests is the other side of the story. That goes for any of his fellow metal detectorists that can present an argument and keep a civil tongue in their head. the fact that they (obviously) hold other opinions but hope if they refrain from voicing them, the problem will somehow go away (somebody else will deal with it for them?) speaks volumes about the depth of their convictions.

 UPDATE 5.08.12:
the link now goes (at this end at least) to : "The requested topic does not exist"

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