Monday, 13 May 2013

"Over 120 years of experience" of Artefact Hunting

Further to my comments on the upcoming televised artefact grabfest "Dig Wars" by Travel Channel, over on a metal detecting blog near you,  "Chicagoron" explains (May 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm)
This show is something different than anything that has been on. The three teams of detectorists have over 120 years of experience. All items on the show are real dug items, the focus is on history and love of the hunt. It is a competition so the appraiser does attach a value to the finds all based on collector value. We do have a lot of fun, but we also talk alot about the history of the sites we are hunting. All are on privately owned land. I hope everyone will tune in, I really believe we have put out a realistic detecting show with interesting characters. We fought hard to make sure this show was based on history and reality.
So, is this about glorifying the history one can get by hoiking random objects out of the archaeological record, or - as it seems is the case with the Brun/Heritage effort - a 'reality show' built around the "colourful" history hunters? How much damage could a team of artefact hunters do to the archaeological record in 120 years of continuous artefact hunting? Some of it was done to the British archaeological record in the vicinity of Colchester, England by migrant treasure hunters.

So, let's get this straight, this new "quality" product is in the form of a dumb-down-history reality-show-cum-competition where three teams of colourful and experienced, artefact hunters vie with each other to hoik out the most valuable (as collectables) items from the search sites to be assessed by an appraiser? I'd say "talking about the history of the sites" could be done on camera without at the same time ripping anything of collectable value out of them.

If that is the case, in what way were the negative reactions in the comments under the original article to which I referred wide of the mark? The programme sounds absolutely dreadful. I believe my cable company delivers Travel Channel, if so and they are pumping the same hogwash to central Europe as for home consumption, I'll certainly be "tuning in" on June 12th.

I expect detectorist-loving Florida archaeology graduate Lisa Hume MacIntyre will also be impatient to watch the drama unfold so she can check out her impression that artefact hunters "do the same as archaeologists" just using different methods (sic). I am sure then she'll be writing more enthusiastic guest articles replete with fulsome praise of these "different methods" (and "collector value") on Mr Stout's anti-archaeological blog. I will pay especial attention to how she assesses the artefact hunters'  obligatory application of "the scientific method across the board" in their enquiries into the past - especially stages 4-6 of her diatribe against Heritage Action ("4. Test the hypothesis… 5. Analysis…6. Report your findings").  I am sure any comments she makes will be really enlightening.

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