Wednesday 25 June 2014

Den of Secrecy

Archeologia "po angielsku" - skandal 
Incredible, you'd get more information out of a US coin dealer flogging off stuff illicitly dug and smuggled out of the Balkans than the PAS. I asked three simple questions, not infringing on anyone's personal data or any other considerations, has inquest taken place, did/will the PAS be taking part and which coroner deals with it. This is my reply to the THIRD letter I sent in that regard:
Dear Dr Richardson,
Thank you for prompt answering of my first question, I doubt there are really any good reasons for the FLO wanting to keep that a secret.
I suppose then it will only be post-fact that we will learn what PAS considered to be an "appropriate communication" to the Coroner and TVC. Going on the information in the public domain about the disturbing manner PAS has treated this case so far, I think stakeholders will more than be interested to discover what that was and whose interests it apparently served.

It really is no use pointing us to a list of "all" coroners in the UK when not even an approximation of the findspot of the find has ever been released to public information and anyone who wants to get a picture of what you and your 'partners' are doing to the archaeological heritage is left guessing what was done where (which is why I asked).

It is regrettable that in situations like this, the PAS is not more about public participation, transparency and promoting best practice rather than perpetuating the clandestine, behind-closed-doors manner of dealing like the antiquities market which the Treasure process mirrors.

Please will you be so good as to let me know when the inquest is scheduled. Thank you.
Yours sincerely
Paul Barford

These people act as though there are only two groups of stakeholders interested in the way the archaeological heritage is handled, the finder/landowner who hoiked the stuff and themselves who get to play with it and flog it to the nation. There are in fact 60 million other people in the UK who deserve to know what is going on, and to register their opinion. Why keep the information from them?

I am going to make a prediction/ hypothesis based on what we've seen so far of this high-profile case. My bet is that after the whole affair is over, we will most likely find out post-fact, that the the "interests that are served" here are NOT the public interest, or those of archaeology,  but largely that of the Treasure hunters who hoiked it.  Let us see. There was extraordinary interest in this case in February, and a number of extraordinary facts emerged in the public domain. Let's see it kept in the public domain and it will be interesting to see what effect they will have on the process that so many collectors worldwide see as a model one to be emulated. We will see how the model works in practice.  The photographs of Mr Sweetman in his hole have aroused great interest (actually, astonishment) on the Continent too, as - I am sure - will what happens next. There was another way to deal with this and that road was not taken by anyone involved. Maybe it is worth asking why. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"These people act as though there are only two groups of stakeholders interested in the way the archaeological heritage is handled"

It's a moot point whether someone who hoiks randomly for selfish motives is a stakeholder. I'd argue not.

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