Sunday 28 July 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Making Responsible Statements

Ton ("a British responsible detectorist") writes:
 Mr. Barford, [...] Since he lives and works in Poland, perhaps [...] ought to focus his energy and anger towards tackling the ransack of huge amounts of roman coins from that country ending up on Ebay 
Shocking eh? Huge amounts? Now I am just an archaeologist, but it seems to me that this would be very odd. Poland was not IN the Roman Empire (I'd of expected anyon passinitly intrestid in 'istry to no that)... but then if a "responsible metal detectorist" responsibly asserts that it is the case that huge numbers of Roman coins are being looted in Poland and exported out of the country via eBay, well, we'd better take a look. After all Mr Ton, being a responsible guy, would not have made an irresponsible claim, would he?

Obviously the point being made here is that if this is true, I would be victimising UK detectorists (collectors love playing/depicting themselves as the victim) and being inconsistent because I'd be protecting the dugup antiquities industry in Poland, while attacking that elsewhere. Metal detectorists love talking about the characteristics, foibles, attitudes and genitals of the people criticising them rather than actually listening to what the points made actually are and addressing them. Is it therefore true that  there is a "ransack" (sic) of "huge amounts of Roman coins from [Poland] ending up on Ebay"?

Searching for both "Roman coin" and "Poland" on at the moment we come up with a dozen or so coins. One is an overpriced Sigismunt III being sold from the USA and two equally overpriced near contemporary coins from London and New York. There ARE 14 heavily stripped Late Roman Bronzes on offer from Ilawa, Poland. These most likely originated as a bulk lot from the Balkans, perhaps imported directly or through western markets. If we look on the UK eBay (where "Ton" is) we do not even find them in a search. If we turn to the Polish eBay website we find the 14 noted above plus five more offers (one containing five circles of metal the seller insists were once Roman coins before the collectors got their hands on them). These coins all look like "Balkan bulk buy" types.

And that's it. When you look, there is no evidence whatsoever of any  "ransack of huge amounts of roman coins from that country [Poland] ending up on Ebay". This turns out to be another piece of deceitful writing from the collectors' lobby trying to deflect discussion from the real issues

So, once again we see UK metal detectorists making claims they cannot substantiate and which turn out to be smoke and mirrors deception, as is the case time and time again. "Ton" either did not check that he knew the difference (about 1000 km) between Poland and Bulgaria and misled us all, or he thought nobody would actually check his glib statement (as if!) and he'd get away with misleading us all.

Vignette: Damaging inability to stick to the truth - UK policies on metal detecting ARE damaging the archaeological record. 

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