Saturday 18 January 2014

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: PAS Finds "Differ from other parts of Archaeological Record"

Helen Geake, seminar University of York: 'Coping with no context: using Portable Antiquities Scheme data in early-medieval research' 22 January 2014. She asks how much use are the 20,000 Early Medieval objects recorded in the PAS database in archaeological research? Because she works for the PAS she's unlikely to say "very limited" she does admit though:
"PAS finds are in fact proving to be different from other unstratified finds".
Because they were gathered by collectors selecting them for their collectability, not primarily as a source of information about the past for analysis by archaeological methodology. These are selective data with an inbuilt bias. Not only that, the collectors hoiking this stuff and selectively keeping and binning the removed artefacts are totally trashing the  archaeological context they are mining for collectable geegaws.

UPDATE 20.1.14
I sent a link to this post (and one other) to Helen Geake who affably informs me I've got her intentions all wrong, and that she offered to send me a copy of what she has to say. I look forward to seeing it and maybe commenting a bit more after the event.  Now, why can't the rest of the PAS be so willing to discuss these things?

UPDATE 27.1.14
It seems I spoke too soon, nothing came - so I guess I'll never learn whether I've got the usefulness of these data all "wrong". That is disappointing. If I am wrong, I really would appreciate knowing where, that is what debate is about.

UPDATE UPDATE 28th Jan 2014:
For discussion of another person's take on those "Early Medieval data" see here.

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