Sunday 14 July 2013

"The Great Arkie-Tekkie Shootout", Really?

'Florida Busts Artifact Thieves Who Damaged Lands, Waters' [, February 28, 2013] but  Jacksonville, Florida archaeologist Lisa Hume MacIntyre is going to talk nice to the artefact hunters on the American Digger magazine’s Relic Roundup Show tomorrow night  (Monday Night at 9:00 PM eastern standard time).
The one you've been asking for, a Archaeologist /Detectorists live debate. Featuring archeologist Lisa McIntyre and detecting icon Dick Stout, this will be perhaps the most exciting show we've ever had!
From her previous "reflections", and the fact that  the main contribution of her opponent to the debate on the preservation of the archaeological heritage is name-calling serving to elicit support among the thugwits, I do not think we can expect much intellectual cut-and-thrust.  My prediction is that the debate will conclude with some wishy-washy "wouldn't-it-be-nice" sentiments lacking any substance (probably with the PAS thrown up randomly and taken out of context as a "good example to follow") and a wholesale lack of any understanding of what the issues actually are, from both sides.

Mind you, it IS a "call-in show", so there is nothing to stop some more clued up US heritage professionals phoning up with more searching questions for either participant.

UPDATE 16th July, night there, early morning 17th here.
Although it was three in the morning, I sat through over an hour of cackling laughter, repeated "you know"s and false bonhomie. There were no surprises, the same old anti-preservation arguments were trotted out (mostly the ones of a 'two-wrongs' type). The actual issues of why we protect the archaeological resource were skipped over in a very object-centred discussion. The legislation was presented as something that serves to hinder artefact hunters (and their "rights") rather than protect a resource, the word 'conservation' was not mentioned. As expected, the talk skipped all that and was all about sitting down and listening to each other - the archaeologist admitting she'd never actually been out with artefact hunters and had no real idea of what they do. She also flunked the question on Florida's Isolated Finds Programme (here, too). [Perhaps if she's serious about liaising with artefact hunters she should spend some time reading the resources on this blog rather than just looking up the posts which mention her name...]. It is hardly a 'milestone' (as the programme's producers would have it) to have somebody claimed to represent the archaeologists' position on artefact hunting and collecting who actually admits she knows nothing at all about the hobby and the history of the archaeological response even in her own country (nay, state).*

Most of the chitchat was (as I predicted) about setting up some kind of a voluntary database where archaeologists could "look at things" (why they'd do that was not clearly defined). There were problems here with transparency, they could not agree whether artefact hunters would be revealing where something was found, or who they were (it seems the feeling is that for many, even when they are working legally with all the required permissions, they will still want to remain anonymous). The actual organization of such a database was not really discussed, nor indeed was the actual function broached. It seemed the aim was to provide some legitimation for the hobby rather than serve a public or heritage management function. What was tentatively suggested was however more like the UKDFD than the PAS. The latter was (supposed to be) an archaeological outreach (educational) project, promoting best practice - ie that intended to conserve sites and knowledge. The UKDFD is just a crude object-based 'show and tell' venue.

This emphasis of course keys into what Dick Stout and pals consider to be the main motive of archaeological concern. they think heritage professionals are merely "jealous" of artefact hunters getting their hands on artefacts. By such a one-sided presentation, they then come to the conclusion that by allowing "archaeologists" access to "their" finds (the ones they've voluntarily posted up), they will solve the problem once and for all. Nothing Ms Lisa says disabuses them of that idea. Maybe for her archaeology is just about "finding things", maybe that's what they teach at the University of Florida, who knows?

The issue of 'best practice' was diffidently discussed  at the beginning of the programme. The "detecting icon" said he'd tried it once but was bored by "putting all the little flags in the ground". It is clear that he'd not really grasped the question. This inability to sift facts and place them in some alternative framework is in my experience common in artefact hunting and collecting and I would say is a major stumbling block to any attemtp to 'educate' them so they can carry on doing what they are doing in a way which is not damaging to sites and knowledge. Many of them simply do not want to be "educated". The term frightens them. Note who was the first person to go when PAS met financing problems, the education officer.

Chicago Ron made an appearance at the end. He praised Britain's Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure Act and suggested that this is the way the US should go. That's Chicago Ron, the owner of a sizeable collection of metal detected artefacts  from his many metal detecting holidays in the UK (Colchester region). He made no mention of any friction between his US-based metal detecting holidays organization and the local PAS FLO... He then went on to plug his website.

The programme can be downloaded/listened to here.

Apparently they are going to be repeating the chat in a week (it would seem the projected speaker - talking according to the schedule on "buying a New Detector" - could not make it). I doubt anything concrete will emerge.

* UPDATE UPDATE, I see that Lisa McIntyre has now looked at one of the two links given above. A "person from Warsaw" was mentioned five times in the hour-long US programme, never by name. 

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.