Tuesday 19 November 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: PAS demotes "archaeology to a lesser status"? Morons

It seems to me that metal detectorists are getting a little lost. Over on the Cultural Property Observer, aspiring ACCG member metal detectorist Dick Stout remarks in a thread about Israeli antiquity dealers:
"You have to understand" (sic - as if he does) "that Mr. Barford's hatred for the PAS is due in part because it's so successful, thus relegating the archaeological community to a lesser and well deserved status".
There is of course a great difference between arguing against a certain policy and the emotion of "hatred". I think the PAS is the wrong way to go, but actually quite like a number of people within it - even its Head who is obviously a decent bloke. My problem with the PAS is not at all that it is "successful" (because I very openly support the Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter which says it is not), but in my opinion it has depicted its "achievements" in the wrong way and with a lot of confusing spin.

It seems clear that one area where it has not got its message across is precisely that which the Texan metal detectorist gets so wrong.  The PAS does not relegate "archaeology" anywhere, for the very reason that it is an archaeological organization staffed by archaeologists and intended to get archaeological information down on record. I really have no idea what this guy imagines he is sayying when he claims that by the work of the PAS archaeology is "relegated", deserved or not, to a "lesser" status.

Similar ideas seem to permeate the artefact hunting community. Here we have John Wintwer getting seriously lost ("Unsung Heroes – Our Finest Hour?" John Winter Blog, 26 January 2012):
I must state here the phrase metal detectorists when uttered by PAS officials, written in documents and parroted by government ministers is often prefaced by that word responsible which after a time becomes rather irksome. The inference is that any detectorist who doesn’t record with the voluntary scheme which is PAS or records with the finders’ own independent database (UKDFD) is somehow irresponsible. I don’t see it that way! [...] our detractors don’t seem to have the same level of government and influential media support! 
Fine (Mr Stout can be found commenting here too). This is connected with the fate of the official Code of Practice of Responsible metal Detecting in England and Wales which was quietly ignored by the majority of detectorists. If Mr Winter considers that recording on the pirate privately-funded UKDFD database is enough to qualify for the label "responsible", then presumably he (and others who think like him) can accede to scrapping that expensive Portable Antiquities Scheme, and let us see then how much "governmental and influential media support" it wins them. Either they are fully with the PAS or they are partly against them. Something for something. 

For my earlier comments, see here: "Focus on Metal Detecting: "Where Would the BM be Without the input of the metal detectorist"?" Thursday, 26 January 2012

Vignette: Labour MP David Lammy laughing at one of his own jokes

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