Sunday 26 January 2014

Preconditions for Instituting a PAS-clone Scheme Abroad

Nigel Swift of Heritage Action has published some thoughts on the necessary preconditions for setting up a PAS-clone abroad ('How to set up a Portable Antiquities Scheme: a guide for heritage professionals abroad' Heritage Journal, 26/01/2014). As we have seen this is a constant leitmotif of the collectors. US coin collectors consider that the US government "should' insist that other nations do this before trying to deal with the effects of smuggling (the logic of which escapes all but the most disfunctional of minds). Metal detectorists in the US and elsewhere (Poland included) want a PAS at home, because they can see from the situation unfolding in Britain how effectively it would legitimate their exploitive hobby.  

So Nigel Swift has produced a flowchart showing how it works (I've tweaked it a bit below).

At the bottom is the destruction going on, then above that the various processes involving what Nigel calls "ADWIM – avoidable depletion with inadequate mitigation” and then the various mechanisms by which the public is led by the PAS and heritage professionals in Great Britain to believe that artefact hunting and collecting are just what the British archaeological record needs and spending millions of pounds as a result is a good thing.

Over on the top left is the tally of the number of things praiseworthy, denied and about which there is simply embarrassed silence (much of it from Bloomsbury).  It's be even worse for countries that attempt to set up such a Scheme if first they do not create metal detecting clubs and commercial site-pilfering rallies as that is where the English and (for the moment) Welsh FLOs do a substantial part of their recording.

In terms of archaeological heritage management, what this chart shows is not so much proper administration (ADMIN) of the protection of the resource, but ADWIM, a bizarrely distorted form.

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