Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Singapore Heritage and the Dilemma of the Responsible Detectorist

The legislation in Singapore is not exactly well constructed to protect any archaeological heritage there may be there it seems (Jack Tsen-Ta Lee, 'The preservation of Singapore's Archaeological Heritage'). There is a heritage society, which seems to be doing some work, and there is also a group of English-speaking metal detectorists over there who have a request for information
Metal Detecting is at its infancy in this region. And for most, it is just a pastime to hunt on the beaches to get some coins and maybe a piece or two of jewelry if one is lucky.
While we are not so noble as to say that we will be protectors and conservationists of history, (we do not have much of a history to start with and we have no idea what is valuable historical artifacts either) we definitely do not envisage ourselves as history destroyers either.
What I would hope to hear and learn from a professional Archaeologists is:
1. How do archaeologists draw up historical sites or find them?
2. How do archaeologists protect, conserve and archive the finds on these sites?
3. How can metal detectorists help to lessen [...] the likelihood that we destroy a piece of history unknowingly?
4. If a metal detectorist find a possible relic or artifact of historical value, how does one archive or record it? (given that there is no authority in this part of the world that regulates such finds)
Can you share some articles that you think may shed some light of your ideas of how MDers/MDFanatics can help conserve history? It will be great to learn more especially when this hobby is picking up here in Asia.
Suggestions? One would think it would be enough to send the enquirers to the PAS website, but... of course, there is nothing there suitable. So where is there a resource concerning responsible detecting which can be used by interested people outside the charmed circles of the hinterland of Bloomsbury? I was thinking about the practical nitty gritty rather than the 'pat-on-the-head-wouldn't-it-be-nice' of most of the stuff about "partnership". More to the point, how can this be done in the (apparent) absence of a permanent organization in place managing the heritage? Comments welcome, from FLOs especially, what material do you use in your "outreach"? What do you recommend your 'partners' read?


Anonymous said...

Well of course, no FLO will answer any of that. It's a jobsworth thing.

In any case, PAS's primary function, for which it is paid a lot of public money, is to inform and educate not to recommend where else to go.

Not that they do either adequately, see the Erosion Counter and the recent scandalous behaviour in Kent and elsewhere.

There are even "gaps" in the advice they offer to finders on their website. (Farmer Brown has sent us his views on that for Sunday.)

Paul Barford said...

I think it's time to start asking what, apart from "wottalotta stuff we got in are database" the PAS has actually achieved among artefact hunters and members of the public in seventeen years. It seems to me, looking at that Kent fiasco and other things and the total uselessness of the PAS as a public source of information, the actual answer is "not a lot".

All it does is legitimise damaging artefact hunting.

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