Wednesday 30 November 2016

Smug Collector Dismisses Rights of the 'Brown Skinned Foreigners'

Smug Washington collector on the recent Egypt MOU on artefact importation into US market:
47 min.47 minut temu 
11th hour Obama Admin gift to Egypt's dictators and archaeological lobby.
91% of comments to CPAC ignored.
 Well, it looks more to me that this is done to benefit to people of the country whose heritage is being taken away by culture thieves to sell to (among others) smug American dealers who make profit out of supplying decontextualised bits of it to smug Washington collectors. As Peter Stone puts it:
Protecting cultural heritage is not only important to specialised academic interests, heritage represents communal memory, and access to it has recently been argued to be a human right by the UN’s special rapporteur for cultural rights.
And of course it is local access to it which is denied by smug people abroad pinching huge swathes of it to fill their trophy rooms and pockets.

And yes, let us ignore the arguments of that rather disreputable kneejerk crowd 310 copy-and-past mongers (dealers and collectors for the most part) who see nothing wrong with an irresponsible no-questions-asked trade in unpapered artefacts from an area as heavily looted as post-2011 Egypt. You can get all their names here:

The Amazing Cheek of the Treasure Hunter (Alton Hoard)

Nicely timed by 'Ancient Coin News' to coincide with the annual Treasure report hoo-haa in the UK 'Metal Detectorist Challenges Alton Hoard Value'.Everett Millman  of Gainesville Coins (that's not Gainsville as in Old Man Sayles, but the one where Eric Procopi onetime dealer in Mongolian dino bits was based) writes:
In 1996, a Briton who was interested in archaeology and metal detecting as a pastime discovered one of the most significant treasure hoards in the history of the U.K., the Alton Hoard. A full two decades later, the finder--a bricklayer named Peter Beasley--believes that expert appraisers downplayed the historical significance and value of this massive discovery in order to suppress how much money the museum had to pay for the artifacts. Now, Mr. Beasley is looking for answers. “It’s not about the money but the principle,” he emphasized.
He was interested in what? Let us call a spade a spade, this is nothing more nor less than artefact hunting. Mr Beazley says he is now 'not interested in the munny'. That's not what he was saying when this blog began (
Beasley found the ancient relics in a farm field with the help of his friend Peter Murphy. Beasley and Murphy came upon the coins while sifting through Celtic and Roman pottery at a site they had identified as potentially holding clues to Britain’s first-century history. 
Oh, pleeeease...  One can almost hear the plaintive violins. So, two artefact hunters rifling through a known site looking for something valuable. And how much of that 'sifted through' pottery from that site is documented on the PAS database? What have we learnt about the extent, nature and zoning of the site from the material meticulously collected and documented by these two folk seeking "clues" to Britain's first century history? Is there a publication? Citizen archaeology means what, precisely (British Museum)?
Ultimately, the two finders and the landowner split the £103,000 valuation that was offered by experts at the time. However, subsequent sales of comparable relics have far exceeded the Alton examples. According to the Alton Herald, another Caesar ring that was given to King Herod of Israel sold for over £11,000, while the Tincomarus ring netted just £2,900. Moreover, the gold torque garnered only £1,650 when a similar Roman-Egyptian bracelet from the same time period realized £60,000 at auction.
Not only have many of the experts who provided the hoard’s value been discredited, but Beasley’s complaint of the items being “grossly undervalued” holds weight when one considers the newest estimate for the items’ value: £256,000. It remains to be seen whether Mr. Beasley’s informal appeal will produce any results.
Yeah. like discrediting the whole milieu who quite obviously are lying when they say that the money is no account. This guy is still moaning about allegedly being short-changed  in 1996. Perhaps Beasley, Murphy and Millman might like for a minute to think about what would happen to the value of coins of  Commios, Tincomarus, Epillus, and Verica when 250 of them suddenly appear legally on the open market as another hoard is found. And Tincommius is a name which as the same cachet as Herod? Really?Mr Millman, you should know better, and as for the Treasure hunter Mr Beasley...

Tuesday 29 November 2016

US signs Cultural MOU with Egypt

US signs Cultural MOU with Egypt - restricting imports of Egyptian antiquities and helping combat looting and smuggling.
Under the agreement, the United States will impose import restrictions on archaeological material representing Egypt’s cultural heritage dating from 5200 B.C. through 1517 A.D. Restrictions are intended to reduce the incentive for pillage and trafficking and are one of the many ways the United States is fighting the global market in illegal antiquities. The cultural property agreement [was] negotiated by the State Department under U.S. law implementing the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property,
Shockinglt, this is the first MOU between the US with its clunky 1980s selective implementation legislation and a country in the Middle East. Time for legislative change giving wider protection from one of world's largest market countries.

Vignette: Just another antiquity from Egypt seized in US

Saturday 26 November 2016

A Review of the PAS Conference 2016

A Review of the PAS Conference 2016 - Alan Simkins It all looks to have been a bit pointless - a waste of time and public money, especially as there is no 'hard' product.
John Maloney from the NCMD [...] came over as an unpleasantly smug Trump-like bully – someone who is used to getting his own way and seeing no possible reason for that status quo to change. He started his talk by disparaging the efforts of the likes of David Gill and Paul Barford to debate some of the issues behind artefact collecting, and implied that figures used by critics of the hobby (such as those used by the Artefact Erosion Counter) have no substance in fact (as we know, the counter is based upon figures supplied by the NCMD, CBA et al). I suspect he came away from the conference very pleased with the cap-doffing shown to the metal detecting fraternity during the talks throughout the day. Very much a ‘you couldn’t do it without us’ attitude which was not pleasant to see.
I wonder though what a talk in such a tone has to do with 'can detectorists be archaeologists?' Certainly, when spokesmen for the milieu go on the stage at a national conference and persist in their denial of the very real issues that surround artefact collecting in the UK and elsewhere, you will not find much uptake for the idea that they can be archaeologists in any real sense of the word. He may not take the HA figures, the PAS recently has released their own (actually very similar) which indicate that while on average they record 80 000 objects in a year, around 190000 never get shown to the PAS in that same year, nearly three times as many. So about a third of the finders perhaps 'could' become archaeologists, two thirds are simply knowledge thieves and never will. According to this account, Mr Balony came along to the PAS conference apparently to defend the latter against their critics.

Friday 25 November 2016

Changes to rules for searching the Thames foreshore

Interesting changes to rules for searching the Thames foreshore
You must report any objects you find which could be of archaeological interest to the Portable Antiquities Scheme Finds Liaison Officer Kate Sumnall at the Museum of London.
Nothing here about ownership of finds.

Narrativisation of Heap of Coins on a Table

5 godz.5 godzin temu
Gareth Williams explains the content and context of the
Did he? Here's some pictures to remind us how much he'd have been making up then....

Unfortunately the bottom picture shows what one CANNOT determine from an afternoon's hoiking in a narrow hole from above with a paint scraper.

Artefact Hunters Hit Cissbury

Police investigate damage to historic West Sussex hill-fort 25 Nov, 2016 reads the press release. the text is short on detail, but full of a tedious series of quote after quote about how these "nighthawks" are in fact from a totally different planet from the nice men with artefact collections and their 'metal detecting' [sic] 'can be a valuable tool in adding to our knowledge of the past'. Or not, of course, since that is entirely voluntary and PAS figures show that probably about 190000 recordable items are disappearing annually without record into artefact hunters' pockets. .

PCSO Holter said [...] "There has been outrage from the ethical metal detecting community at this news. "The overwhelming majority of detectorists adhere to The Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting and report their finds to both the landowner and the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). They have a love of the outdoors and history, and fully respect farmland”. 
 Yeah, and the other one has bells on it.

Now of course someone will tell us why digging holes in archaeological contexts and removing artefacts (archaeological evidence) without proper record when it's against the law and not reporting what you find is any more archaeologically damaging than digging holes in archaeological contexts and removing artefacts (archaeological evidence) without proper record when it's within the law and not reporting what you find.

meanwhile a FLO has jumped to the defence of the 'different planet' model on Twitter:
‏@PeterReavill 4 godz.
PAS in the Marches podał/a dalej Sussex Police RE: rogue metal-detectors read - call a stick a stick by recognising a problem we can deal with it
Well, let us call it rogue metal detecting, illegal metal detecting, damaging and illegal artefadct hunting. Now we've got naming iot out of the way, how does the FLO propose 'dealing with it'? How, Mr Reavill? Can you tell us how, after twenty years of PAS outreach, headpatting, cajoling, explaining (?), just what else do you propose doing?

Thursday 24 November 2016

BM Still Thinking about it....

The BM is taking a longish time to work out what their "partnership" with metal detectorists should look like...

Dear Dr Lewis,
The PAS took part in the inauguration of the European Council of Metal Detectorists in April this year. I’d like to quote what they wrote on their recent activity in Poland:

"metal detecting in Poland is a growing hobby, enjoyed by thousands, in a need of precise and sensible laws and regulations. European Council for Metal Detecting will do it’s best to play an active part in advising our Polish colleagues on how to reach a workable compromise with archaeologists".

In the lght of the involvement of the BM, through the Scheme, in its creation, can you please tell me the OFFICIAL (quotable) standpoint of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and the British Museum towards the ECMD and the creation of the Polish Metal Detecting Federation and their attempts to create what they call "precise and sensible laws and regulations" and a "workable compromise with archaeologists" in the EU. What kind of "compromise" do you think European countries such as Poland should contemplate, and why?

Is, perhaps, PAS support of this initiative why you refuse to answer my five perfectly civil questions?    Does an interested party researching material for a presentation now have to put in another FOI request to get even simple answers from the Scheme about the promotion of ‘best practice’?

None of your staff (copied) seem to have much to say about how high recording levels could be assured - which is a bit disappointing for me, but perhaps a source of satisfaction for you. But the possible reasons for that will be an interesting talking point.

Thank you

Paul Barford

Wednesday 23 November 2016

'North Sea Area Finds Recording Group'.

Michael Lewis of the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme is promoting what he calls the 'North Sea Area Finds Recording Group'. He claims 'Denmark, England, Flanders and the Netherlands are among the most progressive areas of Europe in terms of mechanisms to record archaeological finds found by members of the general public, and make these finds accessible for research and public interest in the past.
without bothering to explain the regressiveness of the other ones which apply articles 2 and 3 of the Valetta Convention and make archaeological information (NOT just about 'finds') accessible for research and public interest in the past.

Anyway he's banded together with some pals to make a 'Finds Recording Group' of some kind (its financing and relationship to other heritage bodies in the four countries is not outlined) to achieve great things:
It is our objective to work closely together, and with other North Sea areas, to:
  • Advance archaeological knowledge through the recording and research of public finds;
  • Encourage best archaeological practice in the field when searching for and recording public finds;
  • Support museum acquisitions of important archaeological material found by the public;
  • Advance international cooperation in the field of archaeological finds recording.
The reader will note there is not a word here about the discussion of the ethics of the 'public search for finds' or the degree to which the destructive effects of the practice can be mitigated by the means they are proposing to adopt. These are" 
  • Making the information on archaeological finds discovered by the public accessible to all, including international researchers as well as the wider public;
  • Distributing knowledge on regulation and responsible behaviour for the public when searching for (and recovering) archaeological objects;
  • Acting as an intermediary between finders of scientifically important finds and museum and heritage professionals in a responsible way;
  • Exchanging information on regulations, experience and expertise with international colleagues;
  • Support research through our finds recording databases and other means, by acting as intermediary for finds experts in different regions around the North Sea, and by identifying gaps in archaeological small finds knowledge.
  • Stimulate and enhance public engagement and access to the archaeological heritage at local, region, and national level;
  • Improve standards of archaeological work done by members of the public to engender a sense of shared ownership in the past;
  • Enable members of the public to contribute to the recording and handling of archaeological heritage in order to advance knowledge;
  • Advance the democratisation of heritage management in Europe through the incorporation of principles of citizen science and crowd-sourcing.
  • Promote the study of recorded finds as an internationally important body of archaeological evidence for human behaviour and interaction around the North Sea.
We will see to what extent these aims are achieved, and to what extent this gay frolic will go beyond naive ethnocentric narratives based on the distribution of emblemic artefacts which seems to be the neo-kossinnist staple of the attempts of the supporters of artefact hunting to utilise the collectables they get to see.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Syrian coin in UK Jumble Sale

Obviously we are going to see a lot more of this as poorly-curated ephemeral personal collections of what was once archaeological evidence are scattered (jumble sale find). "Can detectorists be archaeologists?" some simpleton asked....
Detectski » Sun Nov 20, 2016 4:56 pm    jumble sale roman find for ID please [emoticon] [...] Here's how it went down...Pot of coins and random ear-rings etc, tipped em out and had a poke through them, vicky pennys/euro cents/thruppenny bits etc, oh hello that's a roman, had a look any sign it might be a repro, nothing obvious. Me: 'how much for this one?' Brummie stall holder: ' coins are 20p bud' Me: pause / sucking noise / pause 'this one's a bit dirty, how about 10p'  Brummie: 'go on then duck'  That's how they roll at those sort of events... [emoticon]
Apparently it was a 'Theodosius I AE2. DN THEODOSIVS PF AVG, rosette-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right / GLORIA ROMANORVM, emperor standing facing, head right, holding standard and globe. Mintmark ANTA' (Antioch, Syria).

Now, what happened to the rest of this individual's 'collection'? Where are all those artefacts now? Is this the way we should be treating the archaeological heritage?

Sunday 20 November 2016

Debating Policy of Artefacts and Artefact Hunting: Poland

Questions for the PAS in connection with policy discussion on the desirability and feasibility of legislative change on artefact hunting in Poland, Warsaw 29th November. This has been prompted by advocates of change on both sides of the fence pointing to 'the success of the PAS in Britain getting finds recorded'. So after two decades, we are discussing it. I will be speaking, and asked colleagues in the field in the UK to comment on a number of issues I'd like to address to help advance the discussion from 'it would be nice' to 'this is what we could do'. Here are my five questions:
1) If a system such as the PAS were to be set up in a country like Poland, what do your experiences say is vital to keeping the reported finds coming in from artefact hunters (metal detectorists)?
2) What proportion of the finds recorded in the various regions you deal with come from
a)      FLOs going to metal detecting clubs?
b)      FLOs attending commercial artefact hunting rallies?
c)      What else brings in most of the finds (from metal detectorists) that get onto the database? If there were no clubs, and no rallies, what would the number of records of metal detecting finds look like?

3) Do you think the encouragement of the collection of archaeological artefacts is a desirable thing anyway, given the situation on the international market etc?

4) Do you think that if finders were required to hand over all the finds  to the state, the number of records on the PAS database would be in any way affected? Would a reward system across the board affect that? 

5) Or would you urge that the solution that be adopted in Poland to cope would be some kind of division into ‘Nationally Important Finds’ (I’d not like to use the word ‘Treasure’), and then how does one define that – and who would define it?
I presume that since the PAS has several times indicated that it sees itself as a model that could usefully be followed in other countries, they will have no issues with heritage professionals in other countries actually discussing for themselves the details that would lie behind such an initiative. Sadly their annual reports do not contain the sort of information that would allow the sort of questions posed above to be answered, which is why I asked people involved for their own feelings and comments. Let us see what the PAS have to say about the practical aspects of putting actions behind the words.

UPDATE 21st December 2016

Actually, it turned out that the FLOS and PAS Head Office had nothing much to tell in order to facilitate the debate.  The Head of the Scheme even went as far as to say, in effect, that if Warsaw wanted to know about the results of liaison with artefact hunters, they should invite him to take part in the talks. He did not say if he was able to speak Polish - the official language used here for administrative and other purposes in the Republic of Poland.

Mosul mid-November 2016

Mosul mid-November 2016. Iraqi forces seize some eastern outskierts, most of city in ISIL hands still (Nineveh is the big white square right of centre). About a million people live here.

The PAS and their Wrong Outreach

In connection with tomorrow's facile fluff-conference organized by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, I thought I'd just put up a picture of an amateur fieldwork group in action using surface material to create knowledge, instead of a personal collection:

'Oooh look, no Treasure rewards, no EBaying, no secrecy, no selfish motivation, no flattery. no dodgy stats, no cammo, no pockets, yet all the funding and praise and promotion is being dished out elsewhere!' ( Heritage Action, 'The wrong Portable Antiquities Conference is being held tomorrow!' 20/11/2016)

But to be honest, considering the evident depth of the blinkered self-delusion among the supporters of the PAS, I do not expect that a single archaeologist present at tomorrow's event will be expounding on the difference. 

More on the BM tekkie-love-fest from this blog:

'Well, Somebody takes my point. A Pity the British Museum Can't Understand' PACHI, Wednesday, 24 August 2016,

'More on "Citizen Archaeologists"' PACHI Wednesday, 24 August 2016
'Heritage Action on Trepanation and Modern Archaeology' PACHI Saturday, 3 September 2016

'Artefact Hunting: What the PAS Promotes' PACHI Saturday, 29 October 2016

'They need to wise-up and smell the roses!' PACHI Saturday, 5 November 2016

Saturday 19 November 2016

Coin Dealers and Nationalism

It is interesting to see a US dealer who was one of the most vociferous in calling archaeological heritage protection 'cultural property nationalism' and was proposing 'internationalism' (a globalised approach) as the antidote to this evil N-word, now enthusiastically embrace the nationalist stance of the so-called 'alt-right' as promoted by the Trump regime ('Political Correctness Loses': 'The 2016 US Presidential election is now history, and the big loser was political correctness').

Friday 18 November 2016

Pirates Gonna be Pirates

The moderator of the Yahoo so-called 'ethical collectors forum' is boasting on the forum that he has personally just brought what he was told were genuine ancient coins out of Lebanon, I am sure he got all the paperwork required

Thu Nov 17, 2016 2:33 am (PST) . Posted by: "tuppennyblue" tuppennyblue I bought these at Baalbek. I know one is an Alexander drachma, but can anyone identify the other for me? I know little about coins so presume they are genuine? Tim
One wonders what else this collector and small-time dealer has bought on his trip and taken back to England. Ethics only for show? Let us see if his admission that he's purchased and thus presumably brought back 'a few other small items which I am sure are authentic', elicits any comment or discussion from all those "ethical" collectors (who-are-not-really-are-they?). Don't hold your breath.  Another forum member notes:
When I visited Baalbek, the "official"; guide indicated that although the state was consfiscating all ancient coins found on the site, they released a number of them to be sold to collectors. He pointed out at a shop nearby where such coins could be bought. When I visited the shop, the keeper being told that I was a collector, asked to go in the back of the shop where he showed me some coins.
Perhaps this is where Peter Tompa gets his ideas from, the coins 'released' are in fact only fakes. Of course if they really were officially released items, there would no reason for surreptitious 'back of the shop' deals. Let collectors doing 'back of the shop deals' with foreign sellers be the first to go under scrutiny.

TAKE A GOOD LOOK at this behaviour, for these are precisely the sort of people that want archaeological heritage professionals to treat them with respect and consider 'partners' in the heritage debate. Take a good look and decide what you think about that as a real possibility. Shame on all such collectors. 

Monday 14 November 2016

Tekkie-tolerant Archaeologist Keeping us Waiting

'Topical Issue on Aspects of Non-professional Metal Detecting in Europe (Open Archaeology)' Pieterjan Deckers
Pieterjan Deckers hasn't uploaded this document. Let Pieterjan know you want this document to be uploaded.
Yes, yes we do, considering that the deadline was so long ago, and they rejected critical voices on the grounds they could not comply within the time they defined, one might wonder why one of the volume's main contributors has not yet published his text. Lacking the courage of his convictions?

Where the Irreversible Harm is

Suzie Thomas, promoting the pro-collecting fluff book she edited with two other fawning tekkie  head-patters, is quoted calling artefact hunters with metal detectors 'citizen researchers' in a wishy-washy text which totally omits the word 'collectors' (Citizen research or irreversible harm?). Here are some more artefact hunters who overstepped the boundary of what Britain's all-too-liberal law on artefact hunting allows:
A memorial site marking the World War Two deaths of 10 US airmen has been dug up by so-called "nighthawk" metal detectors [sic], police believe. The airmen lost their lives on the South Downs site near Eastbourne when their US bomber crashed in 1944. Digging at the site was consistent with illicit metal detecting, officers said. Heritage crime officer for Sussex Police, Daryl Holter, described it as a "shady unscrupulous act" which showed "a complete lack of respect". "The site of the memorial is protected by the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 and any contravention of this will be fully investigated," he said (BBC ' 'Metal detectors' [sic] vandalise South Downs war memorial' BBC Sussex 10 November 2016).
and what were they 'researching', pray? Artefact hunting is not done for any kind of research (in tekkie-parlance, 'research' is used to locate potential 'productive' sites to find things to collect - here a monument X-marks the spot made it easier for hunting gruesome trophies to pocket and gloat over). Artefact hunting is done to gain access to items to add to an ephemeral privet collection for personal entertainment and profit. The fact of whether it is done openly or clandestinely, in the day or in the night, on sites where one can go, or sites where one cannot does not change the nature of the findamental activity involved. Glibly saying that 'these is night'awks, we int night'awks, we hateses night'awks' is not in any way addressing that underlying fact. A fact which all supporters of liaison with artefact collectors (including Thomas and her two co-editors, Mike Lewis and) are studiously side-stepping in their one-sided representations.

I doubt these academics will attempt to answer these three points properly - their inability to do so rather undermines the pro-collecting views their one-sided book is trying to promote:
W odpowiedzi do Suzie Thomas Paul Barford ‏@PortantIssues  12 godzin temu
@SuzieThomasHY @DeGruyterOpen     and the words "artefact collecting" appear where, precisely? Understanding issue implies calling a spade a spade 

W odpowiedzi do Suzie Thomas Paul Barford ‏@PortantIssues 12 godzin temu
@SuzieThomasHY @DeGruyterOpen    Rhino and whale hunting are not 'citizen research' whatever records are made.
W odpowiedzi do Suzie Thomas Paul Barford ‏@PortantIssues 12 godzin temu
@SuzieThomasHY @DeGruyterOpen    Collecting costume Barbie dolls is not 'citizen ethnology'. WHEN is coin collecting 'citizen archaeology'?
Where the irreversible harm is being done by these people is to the public perception of archaeology, as well as in the will to fight the collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological resource in Britain and (more tragically) beyond. When will these issue-dodging academics be brought to account?

Stolen Stela Undetected Thirty Years on No-questions-asked Market

AT editor, 'Antiquities mystery solved: Swiss return stolen artifact to Egypt', Africa Times 14 November 2016
An ancient stela without any paperwork was discovered by Swiss authorities during a customs control in Geneva in 2014. Police opened a criminal case into the unknown object’s provenance.
It was turned over to Egyptologist Philippe Collombert at the University of Geneva, according to Agence France Presse. Collombert traced its origin to the ancient Isis temple in the Nile River delta. The engraved slab had been stolen from the temple at the Behbeit El Hagar archaeological site 30 years ago. The antiquities experts compared photographs taken in the 1970s to more recent ones, and established without a doubt that the object was from Behbeit El Hagar, according to a statement released to news agencies by the Geneva prosecutor’s office.
Now it remains to establish who had handled the stolen item in the past thirty years, how and where it entered the market, who then passed it on without checking it could be shown to have been of licit origins, a two-year investigation as part of a criminal case should have been enough to ascertain that, surely? because while the Egyptologist was sorting out from which site it had been stolen, what were the Swiss police doing?

Sunday 13 November 2016

What is in those Freeports?

Since, through the art market's total non-transparency, we do not know what dealers and middlemen have stashed away anywhere, who can say this is not, in fact true (Cahal Milmo, 'Treasures worth billions 'hidden' in free ports to fund Isis' iNews November 13th 2016)?

It is more than likely that a group under pressure, as ISIL is, will be trying to siphon away and secure what assets it can, as will key individuals within it - as happened in the Second World War. And the freeports are as good a place as any for the storage of these assets. When are the Monuments Men going into Swiss vaults to find out?
One immediate concern is whether rules requiring disclosure of the “beneficial owner” of an antiquity will have the effect of disclosing the real owners of the offshore companies in whose name deposits are often made.
But then, if we accept that the cultural heritage is the heritage of us all, why should individual entities appropriating bits of it for private or corporate profit expect to be able to do so in secrecy? By what rights do they claim that we do not have a right to know about their activities with our heritage?

No Tunnel at Stonehenge

Save Stonehenge. The British Government's road-building plans threaten Europe's most significant archaeological landscape with irreparable damage.

Tom Holland: published on You Tube 12.11.2016

Nimrud Taken from ISIL

In USA, Undocumented DOES Mean Illicit: Trump

Undocumented artefacts
and those 'American values'?
In a "60 Minutes" interview scheduled to air Sunday, President-elect Donald Trump said he planned to immediately repatriate two to three million undocumented antiquities to their source countries after his inauguration next January (Amy Wang, 'Donald Trump plans to immediately deport 2 to 3 million undocumented antiquities' 13th November 2016):
"What we are going to do is go after the antiquities that are traded by people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these objects, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country and we are going to incarcerate people," Trump told 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl, according to a preview of the interview released by CBS. "But we’re getting the undocumented antiquities out of our country. They’re here illegally." Stahl had pressed Trump about his campaign pledge to deport "millions and millions of undocumented antiquities." Trump told her that after securing the border, his administration would make a "determination" on the remaining undocumented artefacts in the country. "After the border is secure and after everything gets normalized, we’re going to make a determination on the antiquities that they’re talking about — which are terrific antiquities. They’re terrific artefacts, but we are gonna make a determination at that,” Trump said. “But before we make that’s very important, we are going to secure our border.” His comments echoed those he had made at the start of his campaign: "When Mexico sends its antiquities, they're not sending their best," Trump had said last June when he announced his candidacy. "They're not sending you. They're not sending you. These dealers are sending artefacts that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. These people are also bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
Now that's actually not precisely what the controversial orange attention-seeker said, but it makes about as much sense as his actual incoherent message as reported in the original. The point is that Trump-supporting antiquities dealers try to claim (in flagrant denial of art 3 of the 1970 Convention, 'implemented' by the US) that somehow undocumented artefacts are all licit. But under US law, an undocumented human being in the USA now no longer will be considered as such - and where is 'innocent until proven guilty' there, Mr Trump? And how do the dealers and their lobbyists imagine securing the border against these illicit undocumented aretefacts, if not requiring importers to show the dcumentation? In other words, exactly what the CCPIA requires at present.

Illicit Military Shipments from Afghanistan? Nah.

Afghan soldiers, William Giles is not here
An offer hard to refuse from US army?
Hello, I am Capt. William Giles, an officer in the US Army, and also a West Point Graduate presently serving in the Military with the 82nd Air Borne Division Peace keeping force currently deployed in Afghanistan. I have a business preposition for you. I need your in safe keeping of two boxes. This military box contains something I can't disclose now to you until I hear back from you. If you are honest, reply back and I will give you more details. Be rest (sic) assured of a handsome reward. Captain William Giles
Hello 'Captain Giles', it wouldn't be looted antiquities in your secret 'military box' would it? So tell me, why can you not spell the name of your unit correctly, and why are you unaware that the rest of your fellows returned to the States last year?

Saturday 12 November 2016

Is preventing the movement of illicit antiquities into the US simply "political correctness"?

The new Face of America
This is an expansion of a post by David Knell responding to some disreputable and misguided pro-Trump tub-thumping by a US dealer in dugup artefacts (no prizes for guessing how most of them voted). The question is: 'Is preventing the movement of illicit antiquities into the US simply "political correctness"?
Tribalist Dave Welsh, a frequently outspoken American dealer in ancient coins, has expressed his hope that the recent US election will lead to a relaxing of measures designed to implement the 1970 UNESCO Convention (with all that it entails) to prevent the movement of illicit antiquities (as defined by Art. 3 of that Convention) into the US, including the threat to the hygiene of the market  potentially posed by antiquities dealers who turn a blind eye to where their stock comes from. Welsh apparently sees those measures as "political correctness". ("Political Correctness Loses", 9 November 2016).
Welsh argues that the implementation of that Convention in order to keep dodgy goods (as defined by Art. 3 of that Convention) off the market of which he is part, is in some way against the interests of the American people (sic) for whom he apparently assumes he speaks. He urges that implementation of the Convention be assigned to the Department of Commerce, that it be isolated from any other Federal cultural initiative and henceforth - against all logic -  run as some kind of independent programme ('No one in the staff of the Cultural Heritage Center should be transferred or in any way participate in the operations of the new agency').

 Knell quite rightly points out that preventing thoughtless and irresponsible US dealers siphoning off half the world's portable antiquities cultural heritage through no-questions-asked dealing in artefacts with no record of a chain of licit transfer of ownership bought solely from dealers unable or unwilling to provide such paperwork
is not a matter of "political correctness"; it is simply common sense. It is respect not only for "the interests of the American people" but for people all over the world.

Archaeothugs agin Thugwit-Partners?

Breaking News: PAS debate in Ireland cancelled as British guest speakers “bullied”! Heritage Journal 12/11/2016
According to “Irish Metal Detecting” on Facebook….. A public debate on the UK Portable Antiquities Scheme at a venue in Blanchardstown Crowne plaza was rearranged due to intimidation of guest speakers from the uk. The debate arranged by the Irish Metal Detecting Society was open to the public and archaeologists and of course those who enjoy the hobby of metal detecting. While the debate was cancelled a number archaeologists decided to meet with Liam Nolan (event organizer) privately to express their concern at the cancellation of the debate and the reasons why it was cancelled. A number of politicians have also expressed concern at the cancellation and have agreed to look further into the matter.
but the archaeologists and politicians wanting to enable artefact pocketers who want to do what is currently ILLEGAL there asked that their names not be released.

No doubt these thin-skinned head-patters are afraid too of being 'bullied' (by which they mean criticised).

Vignette: Is this how it really is?


Friday 11 November 2016

Arrests on Cyprus: Operation Pandora

Arrests have been made in connection with antiquities found in Limassol district in Cyprus.. A man was in remand for three days after it was found that ancient artefacts registered to his collection were no longer in it, but also for having in his possession a large number of illegally held archaeological objects. Police had earlier arrested three men and a woman in raids on three properties in the Limassol area. These raids were carried out within a Europe-wide operation, codenamed ‘Pandora’ to combat organised crime.
The operations were coordinated through Europol with the cooperation of Unesco, Interpol and the US authorities, and carried out simultaneously in 20 EU countries. A search of a home in Pissouri uncovered 1,145 clay pots and other items of metal and stone dating back to the Copper Age and Roman era. At an Erimi residence police discovered 157 objects which included ecclesiastical art, prehistoric artefacts and items from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. At a house in Mouttagiaka, the authorities found 22 copper coins from Roman and early Christian times. The searches were carried out by police and archaeological department officials. Apart from the unregistered artefacts found to be in the remanded man’s possession, he kept a collection for which he had a licence from the director of antiquities. However, police say that nine of these items were missing without him being able to give adequate explanations. Police requested his remand as they could not rule out the possibility the items had been sold.
The article's headline places this story in the setting of an earlier one carried by the newspaper (Philip Mark, 'Paphos mayor says he feel vindicated following archaeology arrests' Cyprus Mail November 11th, 2016). He had alleged earlier that museum staff in the town had been stealing artefacts from the museum stores for sale. The would-be whistle-blower mayor now claims that the new police raids confirm his accusation, because they show:
that important artefacts, many of them removed during illegal excavations in the Paphos district, were being traded illegally in Limassol. The mayor recalled that he had spoken of warehouses and circles of people dealing in antiquities, something now confirmed by the police investigations and operations carried out in communities in the Limassol district.
except the police seem not to have arrested anyone from the Pahos museum community. Phedonos seems to be a fantasist.

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Screams of Delight from Partner

Eeek, or yuk? "Detectorists' Christmas present", is not pocketing vast numbers of pieces of everybody else's archaeological heritage with not a care in the world not enough for them? Apparently not. An illustrated album of decontextualised artefacts is not in any way or form archaeological outreach - who paid for its compilation and publication and why?

Big Jump in Finds made by Oxfordshire Artefact Hunters?

Intriguing figures, straight from an FLO's mouth:
2 godz.2 godziny temu
Busy couple of months-400 finds recorded rally, 10 new treasure cases and over 400 finds from local finders in last week!
Well, the database says she's made 210 records since first of August, so I do not know where these claims can be checked. Also if you search for all the records made by Ms Byard on rallies since the first of  January, the number seems to be a grand total of 82 not '400'. The first record in the database by Anni Byard is noted as having been created on Monday 15th September 2008, which means her  6,030 records to date have been created over a period of 3340 days. That's 12.6 a week. Just what is going on in Oxfordshire? 

Anyway, '400 finds a week' submitted by an unknown number of collectors to just one FLO alone, if true, would rather tend to suggest that the Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter might be ticking over rather too slowly to reflect the actual rate artefacts are being hoiked from the archaeological record and pocketed by collectors in the UK. Perhaps we need some more official figures from the PAS instead of silly conferences asking tritely whether artefact hunters can become firemen - or whatever.

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Loutish Louth 'Archaeology': Grave Dug Like Potatoes in Lincolnshire

Another excavation of findspot of nationally-important 'treasure'
of execrable quality. Stop trampling the spoil. Who taught the Brits
how to dig like that? Not Phil Barker. But PAS is slowly learning
something, not a carrier bag in sight this time.

Nicola Harley, 'Anglo-Saxon treasure trove discovered in potato field' Telegraph 5 November 2016
A hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure, including a pendant worth over £50,000, which is believed to have belonged to an important ruler have been discovered in a potato field. A gold pendant, two bronze bowls and iron weaponry, including a spear head, two arrow heads and the fragments of a sword have been found by metal detector enthusiast Alan Smith. [...] They were in [a] burial mound in the field near Louth. “This is a once in a life time discovery," said Dr Daubney. "The finds date to the Seventh Century – a time when the elite in society were often being buried in barrows – small artificial mounds of earth. "The individual would either have been placed into a grave within the mound, or perhaps even into a chamber which was then covered over. "This form of burial is a powerful display of status; not only was the individual being buried with a large amount of wealth, the burial mound also became a permanent feature in the landscape.[...] Experts at the British Museum are assessing the value of the discovery but it is estimated to be worth thousands of pounds.
Lesson learnt peeps, target all the burial mounds you can, you people and you too can hit it rich and get your local FLO spouting facile rubbish. Of course this is not a Treasure 'Trove' but a grave that is being dug like potatoes in a potato field. This is just grave robbing by metal detector. And when are these stories not going to start and end with the thousands-of-pounds theme?
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