Tuesday 10 June 2014

Five Thousand Silent Sheep in the Field

Artefact Hunting Going on Under Our Noses
I asked the CBA director what would be the approximate number of professional archaeologists in the UK. The reply I received (pers. comm. yesterday) was that in his opinion, and based on the evidence from the most recent survey, the numbers had been dropping off overall in recent years, but there are currently about 4,500 archaeologists working in the UK (though he admitted that it is possible that with the recent upturn in development in southern England this may be nearer 5,000). Fifty of them work in the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and at least two in the antiquities trade. That means there are nearly five thousand other professional archaeologists in the UK which are failing to note the long-term effects of current policies on artefact hunting and collecting and the UK antiquities market on the archaeological record of Britain and the rest of the world and public perceptions of the discipline. Even if they do think about it from time to time, there are very few who are prepared to say anything more than the superficial and trite 'wanderings' uttered by the likes of pot-specialist Dr Jervis a few weeks ago.

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