Wednesday 1 April 2015

What is Heritage Crime?

David Gill ('Does Heritage Crime Matter?', Tuesday, March 31, 2015) suggests that "archaeological concerns about looting and its impact are moving away from the position held by criminologists":
The criminologists (appropriately) focus on "crime", whereas archaeologists consider the importance of context. But I go back to my earlier position on the intellectual impact of looting. What information is lost by extracting an object from its archaeological context in an unscientific way? How is that loss of information having an impact on the way that the wider corpus is interpreted? Imagine a rare piece of armour that is removed from its archaeological context without any appropriate recording. Has a crime taken place? Has information been lost?
This is knowledge theft, and this too is committing a crime against our common archaeological heritage, a minority of Treasure Hunters are responsible for the loss of huge amounts of knowledge about the past, and some of them want to pocket huge sums of public cash for telling us where they (say) they found stuff. This is not right.

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