Thursday 21 August 2014

Processing of Jersey Hoard Continues

Neil Mahrer has been scanning the mud-logged coin hoard with a state-of-the-art laser
Archaeologists are aiming to remove and clean up to 500 coins a week for the next three years from a hoard (Le Cataillon, near Grouville) found by two metal detectorists in 2012, they've already been working on it for the past two years An estimated 70,000 coins and pieces of jewellery will need to be separated from the binding mud, then properly studied, conserved, archived and published (BBC, 'Jersey hoard experts aim for 500 coins a week over three years' 21 August 2014).
Neil Mahrer [...] has been using a £40,000 laser scanner to create detailed three-dimensional imagery of the find. The laser is so precise it can pick out intricate patterns minted thousands of years ago. Once scanned, the coins will be separated [...] "It's very important to us to have the best possible record of the hoard the way it was found before we start taking it apart, because we only get one shot at it," said Mr Mahrer. "We still can't see inside the thing. We tried to find out about getting it x-rayed but it's just too big and too thick so all we can do is look at the surface. "What will come out over the next three years will be a surprise to us all." The team is already processing about 2,000 loose coins excavated with the main cluster.
Cleaning 500 coins a week, keeping them associated with their locational data within the mass, is a stakhanovite target and will consume enormous resources.  The full costs of the artefact hunters digging this up from undisturbed archaeological deposits for fun are not being revealed, but as one may imagine, they are going to be astronomical. Did we really need this dug up right now to burden the slim heritage budget, could not that deposit have remained in the earth until there was a pressing need to exhume it (properly) ad there are resources in place to deal with it appropriately? These are among the questions Britain is not asking itself about current policies on Treasure hunting.

The laser scans allow Mr Mahrer to
compose detailed surface imagery of the hoard

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