Thursday 16 January 2014

Mike Heyworth on the Equation of Hoikers with "Archaeologists"

Mike Heyworth, Director of the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) tweeted on his way down to London to the launch in Bloomsbury of the Treasure report "I do wish the media could appreciate the difference between "treasure hunters" and "amateur archaeologists"...". He continues plaintively:  "Treasure hunting is about personal profit whereas archaeology is about knowledge and public benefit. Two very different concepts". Yes but then he went and supped wine and savoured canapés rubbing shoulders with the Great and Good (and a few metal detectorists no doubt) and do you think he went storming into the BM Press Office  waving a copy of the newspaper article using that phrase demanding to see the Director of Communications to ask her why, after dozens of letters from the CBA communications and education officers pointing this out, the BM continues to push out this nonsense propaganda? Bar any proper investigative journalism, fat chance there, the British media cannot appreciate something if they are being told time and time again the same old dumbdown pap. The media will not learn to distinguish chalk from cheese if the Cheesmakers cannot help them out. Rescue twittered the same, but did Rescue write to the BM press office and the BBC? Did the CBA? Did the IfA? And the fifty archaeologists of the PAS itself? Have any of these bodies reacted more than once to this kind of phrasing, and how many times? Heritage Action on the other hand has written a number of times and for a while the BBC stopped calling artefact collectors "amateur archaeologists". It seems they need reminding again, let us see if the professional bodies reepresenting British archaeology will take any effective action or whether again they'll leave it up to a bunch of (on the whole non-archaeological) volunteer activists to do the footwork for them.

 Basically in fifteen years of pro-collecting "outreach" the PAS has undone fifty years of positive effects of the hard work of a lot of people (some in their own time) beginning from Wheeler informing the British public what archaeology is and what it is not. An effort that has been wasted by thoughtless policies and lack of forethought by today's British heritage professionals.


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