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.

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