Thursday 3 November 2016

Marginalising the Brits in the Debate on Artefact Collecting

These are still going up, despite the 'deadline' being months ago. This one speaks more sense than the other wishy-washy pat-on-the-head-let's-see-what-they've-found pro-collecting fluff they've published so far in their attempted 'dialogue', but its from Thomas Lecroere1 (1'Association Halte Au Pillage du Patrimoine Archéologique et Historique HAPPAH), ' “There Is None So Blind as Those Who Won‘t See": Metal Detecting and Archaeology in France'', Open Archaeology. Volume 2, Issue 1 Abstract
Presented as an inoffensive hobby that is motivated by the interest for past and history, metal detecting represents an invisible danger for heritage. Since the passage of a 1989 law, it is prohibited in France without having an official authorization. However, there are loopholes in the legislation and the law is regularly flouted, even if the last years saw trials and condemnations. Detectorists claim they are not looters and want to participate in archaeological research, but there is a twilight zone between a „good detectorist“ and a nighthawk. Despite the restrictive legislation, it seems that metal-detecting still will be practiced and we will have to deal with it. Therefore, some French archaeologists agree to record the detectorists‘ finds to avoid the loss of data. In so doing, however, they unwittingly become a crucial link in a vicious circle of looting and selling the common past. They provide to the detectorists a justification to always dig deeper to seek artefacts, and they participate in the black market by giving an added value to detectorists’ finds. The protection of our heritage will be efficient only when these archaeologists stop breaking the rules by practicing an „object archaeology“ like the 19th century scholars.
This is what I wrote about when we saw the call for papers, the anglophone approach represented by the other contributors from Scandinavia etc and apparently the editors themselves thinks conservation of the archaeological resource is "let them rip it up so we can see what they are finding". In French however "le conservation" means precisely that, conservation. How can you have 'debate' when the side proposing it on their own terms (viz, the about-to-Brexit Brits) cannot manage to speak the cognitive language of their European (soon-to-be-ex-) partners?

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