Wednesday 18 June 2014

Shared Stewardship Versus Stolen History

These new understandings were only possible because of the application of detailed archaeological methods designed to preserve the context of even the smallest artifacts and seeds. We are able to understand the information from this feature because we can see all of the components together. Removing objects from this assemblage paints an incomplete picture, not unlike a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. Recent, popular television shows and profit-driven events have romanticized metal detecting, even suggesting that its practitioners are part of the preservation process. However, the reduction of artifacts to a monetary value or conversation pieces deteriorating on fireplace mantles wastes a non-renewable resource. Unless done as part of a professional study and under the supervision of trained archaeologists, it deprives the many of their past for the benefit of the few. It steals our history, robbing our citizens of that which inherently belongs to all; our cultural heritage.
Christopher Sperling ( senior archaeologist, Fairfax County Park Authority), 'Shared Stewardship Versus Stolen History', February 6, 2014.

UPDATE 19th June 2014
Over on one of the more obscure pro-collecting blogs, this passage is quoted in a post which purports to defend artefact hunting. The author of the post says "Preferring to attack the idea rather than the man, I will leave it uncited", but rather typically, the wannabe-polemicist goes off on some mystical anti-archaeological tangent instead of getting around to actually addressing "the idea", cited or not. The idea is that in merely hoiking stuff out without due regard to method, a non-renewable resource is selfishly wasted and no amount of mumbo-jumbo attention-deflecting ('defensive") arguments will change that.



Anonymous said...

I'll bet you a bag of soil-encrusted artefacts from an old collection that nearly all of Britain's 4,792 archaeologists agree with him privately.

Maybe one - just one - will come here to say I'm wrong...

Paul Barford said...

He won't come here. Skeered

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