Friday 26 July 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: More "Archaeologists Supporting Artefact Hunting"

Over on a metal detecting forum near you, one "sinclairuser" from "Castleford in the soviet state of West Yorkshire" writes (Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:59 am ) in the thread discussing the Gary Brun/Gordon Heritage TV show "Hoard Hunters":
hi all being in a unique position here, in that i,m an archeologist/historian first and detectorist second, i just wanted to state a few points.
He suggests the programme producers should have used a different "token archie" who should be replaced by "the local PAS rep", and he also disapproves of "putting trash(metal) back in the ground" ("unforgivable for any responsible detectorist"). He then adds:
detecting does not need to win over archeologists, THEY ALL understand the need and benefits of detectors and geotechnology even if they only admit it privately. we are of course in a rebirth currently as just about every mover and shaker in uk archeology is pro detecting within the PAS framework upto and including an amnesty for nighthawks detecting unknown/virgin sites. the public at large are the ones who need "schooling" in what is right and proper detecting practice.
Indeed, and is PAS doing enough in that regard? Absolutely not. His definition of "nighthawks" was queried, and "Sinclairuser" explains (Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:39 am ):
my definition of nighthawk is someone who steals be that from us, landowners or the nation. these people are not detectorists they are the sort of people who would rob you anyway the detector is a means to an end, i really get that, so do a lot of archies. But there are sites being "night detected" by an extremely small number of "renegades" this form of "nighthawking" is very rare and takes place on land where the usual archeology/heritige (sic) procedures never took place, due to it being nationalised, m.o.d. or the rich and powerfull. in this case its important for the site to be opened up and investigated. the question of trespass is minor, the recognition of finding the object or potentially the site is the hook to come clean. BUT what the PAS would term nighthawking as is basically anyone detecting/removing items from somewhere they don't have permission for.
gurble, garble, waffle, flim-flam, flum. Sharp-as-a-knife terminology there from Archaeologist Sinclair user outreaching to the tekkies.  With diction like that, does he work for the PAS, or did he flunk the written exam? When he joined the forum, however, he decided to do so incognito. On his 'profile' it says under "occupation": "radio/detector engineer".

I think we have here another example of that curious tekkie tradition, producing sock-puppet pseudo-archaeologists speaking out in favour of artefact hunting. I have written of this a number of times (most recently in April, "Maintaining the Myth in Ipswich"). The intention of the metal detectorist writers of such deliberately misleading texts is to create the impression that archaeologists (in the UK) are rock-solid behind the artefact hunters. To the educated eye, it is quite clear that "Sinclairuser" is not who he claims to be, but to the intended readers his text is supposed to be yet another testimonial to the idea of a widely-supported archaeologist-artefact hunting "partnership" in exploiting the archaeological record as a source of collectables dug up and scattered for personal entertainment and profit. The fact is that, outside one misguided organization, the PAS, and its camp-followers, such testimonials from real (not pretend) archaeologists are few and far between. So, in order to maintain the myth, the detectorists make them up.

To what extent ARE British archaeologists  "pro-detecting" and see the "need" for it? The establishment pushes a tolerance (nay, "partnership") approach as the public face, but what are real archaeologists actually saying "privately"? And do they use some of that 'book-larning' punctuation when they discuss their real views? 

Vignette: Sinclair

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