Sunday 31 August 2014


My comment replying to the sock-puppet "Diggerdoc's" remarks on the Guardian (Re the Crisp text). It could have been phrased more fluidly, but these are not Daily Mail readers:
"Diggerdoc" how is collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record as exhorted here by Mr Crisp "doing a worthwhile job"? They are simply collectors, some people make personal collections of stamps and pottery figurines, these people collect artefacts abstracted from archaeological assemblages. 

Is collection-driven exploitation of archaeological sites not "doing a worthwhile job" in other places, Egypt  (El Hibeh etc.), Syria (Apamea, Dura Europos etc), Cambodia, Guatemala, France, Germany, Nigeria and Utah, only because these countries do not have a fifteen million pound Portable Antiquities Scheme there and looters there don't fill in their holes? 

Would UK bird egg collectors be "doing a worthwhile job" if there was a government scheme set up to "record" their depletion of a finite and fragile resource too?

For "even more" UK artefact hunters to report "even more" of their finds for professional recording (like the estimated eleven million found by metal detectorists since 1975, and the 134700 found just this year  of which there is still absolutely no record) the PAS annually would cost not today's 1.3 million pounds annually. The taxpayer would have to pay annually about 3,06 million pounds annually and in perpetuity. For "archaeology as whole to spend time on working with them" also costs money on top of that. How do you propose raising this money to save all the information from that "worthwhile job" of artefact hunters and collectors simply going missing, as it is today?
The ball-park figures for PAS full operation come from taking the values for number of objects the Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter estimates as not recorded this year (1st Jan to 30th August 2014: 134695 items) and the number of objects (93075) recorded by the PAS in the same period and then multiplying the average daily rate by 365.

The costs in fact would be greater as the HAAERC is based on there being 8000 active detectorists in the England and (for the moment) Wales catchment area of the PAS. Although the Counter has not been adjusted for the change in numbers of detectorists brought about by misguided propaganda, including from the fold of the PAS, that figure has now, I think, risen some 60%. I would say if we had the proper figures from an official survey, we'd probably be looking now at a significantly higher rate of depletion which should be measured at 12800 detectorists. That would come out as 4,89 million pounds annually to get coverage of even the basic bare-bones (findspot and what-it-is) information being lost through metal detecting. If these figures are right, a minority and erosive hobby would cost the British public five million pounds a year to support. These are costs no other country has, over most of the rest of the world the ripping up of a finite and fragile resource such as the archaeological record for personal entertainment and profit is regulated by environmental protection laws.

If these figures are right, there is a shortfall of 3.6 million pounds each year on the amount England and Wales are currently willing to spend pretending they are "dealing with the metal detecting issue".  Three million, six hundred thousand pounds worth of knowledge-taking each year remains unmitigated. And PAS-partner Mr Crisp says we need more unmitigateable taking - because he's got a book to promote.

 UPDATE 1st September 2014
"Diggerdoc"  of course never came back to reply. Another example of happy-slapping nuisance posting from the tekkies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The subsidy works out at about £7 a week per artefact hunter. If they go once a week it probably covers the petrol.

That should be mentioned next time one of them claims the country owes them because heroism is expensive.

Of course, the £7 a week doesn't count Treasure rewards. The Staffs Hoard reward alone, divided between them, would add another £3.50 a week.

By what measure is the British system NOT ridiculous, bearing in mind most of them don't report all their finds? Yet we have the self-congratulatory braying of the likes of Mr Crisp to endure.

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