Sunday 24 February 2013

Heritage Action on 'Shamefully Scary Future' for Britain's Archaeology

Heritage Action ("Britain’s Scary Future") discuss the flaws in the idealistic idea some archaeologists apparently have to release the results of detailed LiDAR surveys to allow the public to "discover new sites”.
The website account talks of archaeologists already working on the next project to open up data recovered from projects such as this to “citizen scientists across the globe.” Sounds great. But not in the British context sadly. Here we don’t just have citizen scientists looking to discover new sites do we? Uniquely, we also have a huge army of legalised “citizen artefact hunters” who have repeatedly shown they are more than happy to utilise every last bit of data archaeologists make available to them in order to locate, target and exploit for pleasure or profit every non-scheduled site they possibly can.
And not a few scheduled or otherwise protected ones.
Imagine a future in which lots of unselfish developers provide ever-more sophisticated means for thousands of unselfish people to unselfishly help themselves to the contents of the archaeological record! That’s what you get if you leave a dodgy laissez faire policy unchanged for 15 years – technological advances (such as LIDAR and deep-seeking detectors) come along and make your policy look shameful and stupid in the eyes of the rest of the world!

Note the total silence of the British archaeological community about this. They are quite happy to see the archaeological record selectively emptied of the collectable diagnostic material from every archaeological site within the reach of the artefact hunters, just as long as said individuals dutifully bring along a few scraps for them to fondle and say, "ooo-ah, thank you Mr Thugwit".

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