Friday 17 January 2014

Where Heritage Professionals Are Recruited

Ozark Hillbillies (pininterest © The Old Photo Guy )
The unacademic blatherings of the lobbyists for the dugup antiquities trade extends to building anti-academic conspiracy theories on guesswork. In a comment to Peter Tompa's attack on Nathan Elkins, senior coin dealer Wayne Sayles weighs in with his nonsense-view of the world. He says conservation professionals are an "unprincipled few" allegedly benefiting from "senseless repressions" (like reacting to the bulldozing of earthwork henges, or the demolition of Georgian mansions, the ripping out of part of the ancient centre of a town to build an underground railway station I guess he means, that kind of "sensless repression").

Sayles is quite wrong in guessing that professional services protecting the cultural heritage are recruited from "". Unlike Mr Sayles I have actually worked in the field, in the head office of two such organizations in two countries. I do not know what the situation is in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, where maybe there is a gung-ho amateurish arrangement like Mr Sayles describes, but the heritage protection services of both England and Poland are not composed of a few "archaeologists and anthropologists", but the latter form a part of a much larger professional team. Most of the people I was working with in the Ministry of Culture in Poland were lawyers (good ones), many of the lower administrative staff were from an art-history background.  There were also a large number of specialists with an architectural training, and these were aided by other specialists coming from a natural sciences background (greenery around monuments, cultural landscapes etc). Conservation staff had an education stemming from the pure sciences, chemistry in particular.
within the realm of archaeology and anthropology

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