Friday, 3 July 2015

Friday retrospect: Four Years of Aggro for Asking "Where Are these Artefacts Now?"

Veteran metal detectorist Dick Stout expresses his 'anger' on Peter Tompa's blog that, four years ago, I asked a question about a photo from the end of the 1970s early 1980s which I found on his blog. The photo shows coin folders full of artefacts, a heap of loose artefacts on the living room floor. Since he objects to my using it here, even for legitmate comment, review and criticism, I'll just use an artist's impression. The original is here.

Artist's impression of the disturbing photo of a metal detectorist and his
private cache of historical artefacts heaped loose on the floor
The question is a simple one, what happens to these heaps of loose artefacts when a collector passes away or loses interest in them? Mr Stout was so "insulted" by this question that he has conducted a vendetta against me and my blog and associates for the past four years, with hardly a week going by without some insulting post or other.  The question however remains. What are the net gains and losses to the finite historical record represented by this heap of artefacts with very little evidence that they can be associated with any findspot? Multiply that by ten thousand detectorists in a region and draw your own conclusions why there is concern about the effects of this hobby. Here is the original post that the over-sensitive (methinks) Mr Stout claims he found so "insulting". Maybe when the metal detectorist  grows up he'll take another look and begin to reflect on the implications himself:

Monday, 16 January 2012

Focus on Metal Detecting: Where are these Artefacts Now?

Recently posted on the Stout Standards anti-preservationist metal detecting blog of US metal detectorist Dick Stout there is a photo of somewhat dated living room decor and heaps of metal detected artefacts from the "late 70's, early 80's". It shows US metal detectorist Archie Ray "with a few of his finds". The photo was captioned "Back then you had to have a photo like that taken. We all did". It shows Mr Ray crouching on the floor in front of several piles of corroded metal artefacts, to the left are some projectiles dug up on some historic battlefield no doubt, right across the foreground is a row of shallow display cases and folders of coin sheets, on the right of the photo  is another row of display cases chock-full of artefacts. That single photograph shows several thousand artefacts dug up by Mr Ray in the course of the (first part of) his detecting 'career'. One wonders just what the point was of digging that many artefacts out of the historic record, what that collector did with them all except heap them as trophies on his living room carpet?

So if every metal detectorist in the late 1970s and 1980s had a comparable collection, and tens of thousands of metal detectorists since then have each been accumulating collections of similar sized for the last three decades, then it may be imagined the scale and rate at which the historical record is being eroded wherever this damaging hobby is practised. As the older generation of artefact hunters pass away, where do all those finds end up? On ebay, in museums, or in a skip? Oddly enough I cannot see the big pile of notebooks or index cards or whatever Mr Ray would have needed to document the findspot of all those artefacts. Perhaps they are behind the photographer. The historical resource is a finite resource, the more and more past and current generations of self-centres collectors take away, the less there is left for future generations to enjoy.

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