Saturday, 9 July 2016

"Citizen Archaeology" [UPDATE]

According to the British Museum in its 2016 Annual Review hot off the press, artefact hunting is "citizen archaeology". So here is some more citizen archaeology:

"Citizen Archaeology" at secret location in Kent

Keyhole carrier bag "Citizen Archaeology" at Lenborough

The effects of "Citizen Archaeology" at Wanborough

"Citizen Archaeology" in Witherley.

"Citizen Archaeology"  in Egypt

"Citizen Archaeology" in Dorset

Citizen Archaeology in Iraq 

Citizen Archaeology in Assad's Syria

"Citizen Archaeology" in Peru

"Citizen keyhole Archaeology" in Devon


Citizen archaeology everywhere hoiking out lots of artefacts - but at what cost to our knowledge of the past? That Kent find for example - "you done well" said the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The Lenborough Hoard Hoik also got the PAS seal-of-approval. So what actually do the staff of the British Museum mean when they use the word "archaeology" today? Hoiking artefacts?

And here's some "citizen ornithology".

UPDATE 3rd January 2017

According to one of the comments below, in the post above, I am misrepresenting collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record by showing spades in use. The commentator appears to be claiming that by using trowels instead of spades, artefact hunters are "doing citizen archaeology". I discuss this separately, the idea simply misses the point. Archaeology is more than just digging up old things for private collection, and the tool used is irrelevant, it is the methodology and aims which are the issue.


Unknown said...

Rabble rousing trash. You are an ignorant stirrer. By what right do you claim to represent the view of archaeology? What gives you the moral right to circulate this rubbish with out of context images. You are a zealot and an idiot.

Paul Barford said...

No, Mr Ross, you've got this wrong, this blog represents MY views ON archaeology and related topics. Whether or not I am "ignorant", I leave more informed readers to judge.

As for "stirring" debate, well that is my purpose. Just what is "archaeology"? Is it just digging holes and finding old things? What do you think?

Now, in order not to come over as an idiot yourself, you might like to explain why you think my images are "out of context". The top ones show artefact hunting which the darlings at the British Museum want us to believe is some kind of "citizen archaeology". I do not think it is - and if you disagree, instead of ad personam insults, you are perfectly welcome to submit a well-argued comment explaining here in more detail where you think I am wrong and I will publish it here.

Paul Barford said...

but I bet you won't as I am sure that your sole purpose in posting yer comment waz to show yer Faysebook frends that yer wun ov th' lads, wannit?

Who here, Mr Ross, constitutes the "rabble" that is "roused" by an attempt to question just what is meant by the noun archaeology?

Unknown said...

Okay why have you chosen misleading images? You know as well as I, that the majority of detector users use hand trowels not spades. You chose the most extreme images to forward your perverse view. Why won't you admit that the detectorists have expanded the archaeological record to an incredible degree, and those honest ones who record, should be praised not stoned? I am the first to admit there are treasure hunters and bad crooks, I reported one guy I saw on FB to Interpol. But that does not mean that archaeologists have an exclusive right to the past. You might equally be a poor quality arcaheologist and do immeasurable damage to sites. What are your own qualifications in this field, that you have the right to take it upon yourself to comment from Poland on British policy? Incidentally, I am Scottish and we have best balance in the Scottish Treasure Trove laws.

Paul Barford said...

Yes, it seems that your server is Muir Of Ord, Highland. I asked specifically why the images were "out of context", you tell me that you say this because "the majority of detector users use hand trowels not spades". I think anyone can check that out by looking at upwards of 8000 You Tube videos showing metal detectorists chasing sighnals, either alone or at commercial rallies. Or they can dgo and look at the online portals of metal detecting shops to see what digging tools are used by that 'majority'.

But hoiking artefacts out blindly from above is hoiking artefacts out blindly from above whether you use a spade, trowel or pointy stick to hoik them out for your collection. You see, you are FAILING to see the real message which is that (real) archaeology is more than just "digging up old things", which is the mistake the British Museum made.

I'd say you'd have to READ (not just look at the pictures) the blog to see why I accept neither the glib "artefact hunters have expanded the archaeological record" argument because I think it presents chalk as cheese. The same goes for that silly "law-abiding detectorists are not the same as crooks" one which really misses the point about the collection-driven exploitation of teh archaeological record.

I am sorry, but you have failed to impress me with the arguments offered to support the view that collection driven exploitation of the archaeological record is any kind of archaeology. Pointy sticks or no.

xxx said...

No, Mr Ross, an archaeology today does NOT mean 'digging a holes', my poorly educated self-made Indiana Jones. The majority of archaeological research are non-invasive, you have to have a much serious reason than indication of your metal detector to start any excavations. And excavations never are 'digging a hole' - what do you know about so called 'archaeological context' and how describe and secure every of them in one single hole? Nothing, so 'digging a hole' you destroy all of them. In NORMAL civilised countries (but Britain is not normal and civilised, and additionally it's full of uneducated, greedy, brainwashed by TV, poor as a mouse people) 'citizen archaeologist' needs a special licence even to handle metal detector, controlled not by councils, but independent academic services. I have a strong impression that the still Norman British rulers are doing everything to destroy British past. For other European nations is shocking how your country, with one of the best archaeologists in the world, totally neglected their own past.

xxx said...

I will ask you only one question Mr Ross: what you know about so called archaeological context and how you describe and secure it with a use of your spade, sorry - your trowel? If you are able to answer the basic in any archaeology question I will call you 'a citizen archaeologist', not an 'uneducated vandal with metal detector'. A propos archaeology: it's NOT what you learnt from 'Indiana Jones' series. In today's archaeology excavations are rare and only in special situations, non-invasive methods dominate the research. More: the target is not a crystal skull than can stop the Nazis, but knowledge of human life in ancient times (what is not interesting for self-orientated proletariat know-alls that are hell bend to put their dirty hands on the 'ancient gold'). If you have no clue about that + a few other things (and I can bet you have no clue) you never would obtain a licence for the 'citizen archaeology' and a use of metal detector outside your own garden in any normal and civilized country. I really cannot understand how your country - with probably the best professional archaeologists in the world - could not only totally neglect its own past, but also allow every semi-literate ignorant to destroy what survived. Maybe it is a deliberate policy of your Norman Masters, isn't it?

Paul Barford said...

XXX I am not sure about this "Norman" bit...

In general I agree about your assessment of the kind of thing the British Museum insists on calling "citizen archaeology", it is nothing of the kind. But they'll be the last ones to enter any discussion and actually substantiate their views. You'd get about as much sense on that trying to talk to the pigeons in Russell Square. One point though, Alan Ross claims he's an archaeologist -though he did later delete the comment containing that information.

Robothead 3000 said...

Much needed critique of the mass destruction of cultural resources now happening in this modern age of cheap equipment and TV "educated" society.

Also with no valid arguments or concerns, you are but a petty name-caller.

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