Sunday, 12 May 2013

Travel Channel, "Dig Wars", artefact hunting "Reality Show" , from June 12th

Kelly Anderson, “Red, White and New,” “Dig Wars” join Travel’s slate', Realscreen March 13, 2013
U.S. cable network Travel Channel is investing in American inventions and relic hunters via two series set to launch this spring [...] The 6 x 30-minute Dig Wars, meanwhile, is produced by Sharp Entertainment and follows three teams of relic hunters who compete to find artifacts in different historical locations across the U.S. After each hunt, a local expert evaluates the found treasures and picks a winner who has unearthed the most valuable item. The series premieres on June 12 at 10 p.m. For Sharp Entertainment, the exec producer is Matt Sharp, while for Travel Channel, the exec producer is Sean McKnight 
.... and starring "Chicago Ron" (organizer of "metal detecting holidays" for US artefact collectors in Britain, Ron Guinazzo). There are some interesting comments from members of the public and archaeologists who perhaps have seen some of the previous shows on metal detector use on historical sites in the US:

Shaun: "I won't be watching travel channel anymore because of this. Promoting looting of historical sites is disgusting".

Barbara: "I second what Shaun said. I think it is absolutely horrible that so many supposedly educational and informative television networks are promoting looting of our non- renewable, priceless historical and archaeological sites. Sorry Travel Channel, but you have lost a viewer (and I am sure more will follow suit). You should be ashamed".

Della : "I cannot even believe Travel Channel is promoting the looting and destruction of this nation's heritage! I thought the purpose of the channel was to encourage people to travel and see our nation's treasures - if shows like this continue, there won't be anything left for people to see, or learn from, or use to connect with their past. It will all be in the hands of private collectors, sold to the highest bidder, removed from its context and information lost. You've lost another viewer, Travel Channel! You need to re-think your ethics".

Virginia: "It boggles the mind that someone thought "relic hunters who compete to find artifacts in different historical locations across the U.S." was a good idea. What's next, "America's Next Top Looters"? "Eat Your Way Through the Endangered Species List with Emeril"? Seriously, this show's premise is morally reprehensible and any sponsors of the show ought to be ashamed -- and it would serve them right if product boycotts were the result. Shame on you, Travel Channel".
Kara: "Please rethink Dig Wars as it encourages looting and destruction of historical and cultural heritage sites. Destruction that cannot be undone. These sites are preserved and protected in order so that everyone can enjoy them. "Relic Hunters" are looters. The end. This is not something that should be promoted IN ANY WAY".

Ryan: "Really? Dig Wars? Where amateurs compete to do the most thoughtless and destructive excavations with no regard for cultural significance or the destruction of irrecoverable archeological knowledge? Reprehensible. Looting. This is disgusting, Travel Channel. Please stop with this".

Catlin: "I have no idea how anyone could ever approve of something called Dig Wars. Looting is not a sport or a hobby, it is illegal and damaging to cultural material. A show isn't educational just because it mentions antiquities - Travel Channel needs to do some more research".

Meg E: "I am appalled by the premise of "Dig Wars". SO. VERY. WRONG. Others have said it better, but I wanted to add my name to the list of people offended and saddened by this show".
and so on.

Where were these people when the Portable Antiquities Scheme came up with their dodgy "Britain's Hidden Treasures" idea? Oh, yes, in the USA.
 Hat tip to Dick Stout (on whose blog the metal detectorists
claim to be amused by the comments
disparaging their hobby). 

UPDATE 12.05.13

Over on the Stout Standards blog, the Texan tekkie notes that "the gentleman in Warsaw" (who he obviously cannot bring himself to name) has quoted some of the comments about this programme on this blog (he means in the post above, though he does not provide a link):
"indicating how upset everyone is about the show. He knows damn well that they are an obvious attempt to discredit the show….sight unseen".
I suggest that he tries reading them again ("no child left behind" eh?). The majority of them are not "discrediting the show" but questioning the very concept of making another programme about artefact hunting, no matter who presents it and in what form. 

UPDATE 27.05.13

From facebook:
"Premiere party in Chicago if you can make it RSVP!  At last it's here, our new detecting show DigWars! Premiering on the Travel Channel June 12th at 9pm Central. Dig Wars features 3 teams of the the most talented. entertaining and colorful detectorists in the country. Competing to find the most historically significant artifacts for love of history, reputation and bragging rights.  Can Chicago Ron and GW-1 take 'em to school?? You'll have to tune in to see. All 6 members of the cast will be attending this premiere party!  Josh and Abby Silva, Larry Cissna, Mike Scott, Mark Slinkman and Myself. Minelab is trying to assemble some Swag for us to give away!"


Anonymous said...

He's great that Chicago Ron. He comes to England on commercial detecting holidays organised for North American detectorists and his finds rate (ten gold coins so far) is vastly higher than most British detectorists - a fact they often comment upon at length in their forums.

I bet the other knives in the draw wish they were as sharp as Ron.

Unknown said...

Has anyone thought that maybe... Just maybe these detectorists are working WITH archaeologists at certain sites and that great care is taken to record and preserve these artifacts so that others might enjoy them? If you think that just anyone can pick up a metal detector at a local Walmart and find treasures you are mistaken. It takes years of practice and knowledge to be able to metal detect. We as a whole do not condone metal detecting without permission and take extensive efforts to inform others that they will be chastised for doing so.

Paul Barford said...

"Just maybe" Brandon? Or "just maybe not really"? Which of the "six cast members" listed above are the "archaeologists"?

You seem not really to get the gist owf what the whole blog is saying. You are a metal detectorist, right? You see, this blog is about not just the "artifacts" but about the sites they are hoiked from.

If it takes metal detectorists "years of practice and knowledge" just to wave an electronic metal detecting tool around without hitting themselves in the face, just imagine how long it would take to teach a metal detectorist to make the sort of observations and records needed to recover archaeological evidence alongside their artefact hoiking. [Lisa McIntre wants to have a go over in Florida and Texas, let's see with what success].

Umm, the problem is not just doing it with, or without "permission", is it?

"Chastised"? [What do you do? Give them a spank and tell them not to do it again, you naughty boy? Weird. How about charging them with trespass and theft instead?].

Unknown said...

I dont understand how people start whining and crying everytime someone wants to dig stuff up I would rather see "artifacts" in the light of day than waste away in the ground regardless how its dug up show or no show

Paul Barford said...

"I would rather see "artifacts" in the light of day than waste away in the ground regardless how its dug up "

and the rhino heads on a plaque on a wall no doubt, and an elephant foot umrella stand in the hallway too I'll bet. Heard of "conservation" Shannon?

" just don't understand..."
No, I think you really do genuinely do not understand what this is about.
So which of these finds was "wasting away" before you hoiked it?

Can you post a link to the ones that you think are "wasting away" in the ground? Please, be my guest.

Unknown said...

Can you show me where anyone says that they won't be perserved I guess they got permission at these historical sites only to destroy all ...interesting

Paul Barford said...

I assume that is an answer only to the latter point. Maybe I misunderstood; most detectorists when they say something is "wasting away in the ground" mean they are being corroded or plough damaged. Is that NOT what you meant by the use of the term? If not, what DID you mean by using it?

Unknown said...

Yes, these shows have archaeologists that work on the sites with them. Some shows like "diggers" even highlight that so people don't get upset about it thinking that we are "looting" and "grave robbing". Hey, speaking of grave robbing what's the statute of limitations on unearthing the departed anyway? Oh? I guess it's ok if we take some photos and record everything about the process? You speak of elephants and rhinos when in fact your profession puts mummified people on display? Why is it soooooo hard to grasp the concept of working together for preservation? No, metal detecting isn't simple. I challenge you to come out west, where finding a coin from the 1700's (or 1800's in the northwest) would be the equivalent of you finding a pre BC gold coin in Europe. It's difficult and it doesn't happen very often. That's why 90% of people's detectors sit in the closet... Because its hard. We are armature historians that put countless hours of research into finding these ghost towns that weren't recorded. If Archaeologists care so much about these places why is it that they haven't found them? Why don't they put in the leg work and beat us un-educated armatures to the site? You're more than welcome to join us. I encourage it!

Paul Barford said...

What does that mean: "archaeologists who work on the show"? Does that make it archaeology? When does it, when does it not?

So, because it is "hard" it means we should accept it? I expect it is "hard" to kill a rhino in the dark, still does not mean we can condone poaching.

So (and I am assuming you are answering a quite separate and later blog post here, about the ghost-town artefact hoiking video), because these sites are known only to "armatures", it's OK to loot them? I do not really see that as any kind of "working together for preservation", and beats me how you do.

By the way I was being sarcastic, I assumed that the reason why your pal said the location he was digging at was "secret" was because it was indeed protected. If I was wrong, I am sorry for that- as I said, it should be.

Paul Barford said...

This discussion seems to be getting off the topic of the comments on the upcoming show, which is what I wrote about, dead bodies, statutes of limitations, invitation to look for nineteenth century coins "out west" and ghost towns really are not at all related to the topic of Chicago Ron's televised jape and reactions to it. Can we either get focussed or comment elsewhere please?

Unknown said...

I'm a fan of Ron. I will look forward the series premier and I am jealous of the fact that these folks have a great opportunity to unearth history for.

Unknown said...

I could sit here for an hour and rant like you about everything that is bad about archaeologists. But i wont. The simple fact of the matter is that you are an elitist who is not properly representing the facts here about the premise of the show. If you took the time to do a little more research, and a little less running off at the mouth, you would have the facts. Instead of whining like a child, why dont you take some time to try to work with folks in the hobby to assist in some of your projects? There are several projects that Im aware of that offer the public to come in and find out what it is exactly that archeologists are doing. If you make the public more aware and more involved, you would have greater support. If you alienate us.... youre screwed. I for one believe in preservation of history. But you also have to realise that there are not enough archies to dig every piece of private property that might hold something historical. And what about the membrs of the public who do find something groundbreaking and turn it over to archies to get the complete story of the past? Are they looters too? You can whine about Ron all you want and his show but the guy is a class act, bottom line. Just get your facts straight before ranting like a pompous bafoon.

Paul Barford said...

We seem still to be losing focus.

The word is buffoon.

Basically I think your problem (apart from the fact you've been listening to too many other metal detectorists to come up with anything original) is that you really do not understand that the aim is NOT to "to dig every piece of private property that might hold something historical". I'm talking Resource Preservation here with a capital "P". What you are talking about is artefact hunting. They are NOT the same.

Mr Waholek, it is quite clear to the rest of us that what I present here, properly or not, is not the "premise of the show", but what was being said about it. You may not like that, but don't accuse me of not doing what had not been my intention to do.

Thanks for your "idea":
"why dont you take some time to try to work with folks in the hobby to assist in some of your projects? There are several projects that Im aware of that offer the public to come in and find out what it is exactly that archeologists are doing. If you make the public more aware and more involved, you would have greater support. If you alienate us.... youre screwed.

I was thinking about that, I thought of asking the gubn'mint for fifteen million quid to set up a Scheme to do just that, starting with just England and Wales first. You know get folks in the hobby to assist in some of our projects. Do some "outreach" (I think I will call it) to offer the public a chance to come in and find out what it is exactly that archaeologists are doing. Yeah. If through such schemes we make the artefact hunting public more aware and more involved, we will certainly get greater support. Yaaaay... Oh, oh... wait a minute....

Frankly Mr Waholek the problem with artefact hunting is not due to archaeologists not making information available about what archaeology is about, the media are FULL of it. Neither is the problem with artefact hunting (in the UK at least) the lack of public support for and interest in archaeology. I think the problem is more from the other side, in the nature of artefact hunting.

So you will be campaigning for a setting up of a Portable Antiquities Scheme in your state?

Paul Barford said...

steelheadwill commented, among other things:
"I see you chose to omit any positive comments regarding the show that were posted alongside the negatives you included
Let me presume this was not because some were disparaging to archaeologists.
You state that the comments are getting off topic,
The first 'off topics' I noted were your repeated comparison of responsible relic recovery to big game poaching.
I see no relevant connections between the two.
Regarding the 'Wasting away in the ground' issue, every hour that a piece of metal(other than pure AU) lies in the ground means more detail lost, and eventually all identifiable characteristics.
I am most interested in your definition of "Resource Preservation with a capital P"?
(Assuming this is your personal terminology)

1) I picked out the comments that interested me., I give a link so the interested reader can see all the rest.

2) by 'off topic', I mean those comments which do not refer to what the post says, but go off on another topic. I am sorry the meaning is not clear to you.

3) That you see no relevance of conservation issues to what I am talking about on this blog, really, is not my fault. As I pointed out, this is the fundamental problem we have with artefact hunters.

4) that you do not understand what I mean by "resource preservation" despite several years posts on the matter here (and elsewhere)does not surprise me. You are obviously not trying.

5) As for: "every hour that a piece of metal lies in the ground means more detail lost", ever been on an archaeological dig Steelhead? I have, many, and processed material from many more - and I really do not accept that you have the faintest idea of what you are talking about. I have myself handled prehistoric metalwork which has spent many, many "hours" in the ground and has not lost a bit of its detail. Get real, get some proper information. Don't try on the glib tekkie crap with me.

Paul Barford said...

I'm getting fed up with this, the original post (above) was about REACTIONS, not the programme itself or pros and cons of artefact hunting, or privy-digging in Pennsylvania.

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