Tuesday 17 January 2017

Anti-Archaeology Outreach: FLO Explains Lego-Looting

Farmer Jack catches Bob red-handed artefact
hunting on his land without first asking
permission to enter, search and take. Naughty
Bob, not a 'bona fide detectorist', obviously.
But the PAS will handle his finds anyway, they
wont check the permits.
Archaeological outreach in Bonkers Britain hits a new low: Vanessa Oakden, 'New Year, New Detector' PAS (!) blog, 17th January 2017
Happy New Year! Metal detecting is a popular hobby and metal detectors a popular Christmas present so I thought it would be a good time to blog about what’s what for new and young people taking up the hobby with the help of some Lego friends. Bob is off to do some detecting with his new machine. 
No discussion of why artefact hunting, collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record is not a good hobby, one condemned in most civilised countries of the world with archaeological communities with any guts. The only reason many people hear about metal detecting is because the PAS keep banging on about it. "Get permission", is all she says ("Bob makes sure to ask Farmer Jack for permission to search his land" and get the artefacts he takes away for collection and sale legally assigned to him). Documentation of archaeological context sidestepped with:
When an object is discovered note down where you found it, you can do this there and then with GPS (many free apps are available for smartphones if you don’t want to invest in a handheld GPS) or the old fashioned way by marking a map. Or you can do it when you return home with a map or online with handy to use websites such as Grid Reference Finder or Where’s the Path. By recording your grid reference your object can help us to understand more about the past, where people lived, traded, worked, changes in the economy and fashion and more.
No. A findspot alone cannot do that. Obviously. Best practice with archaeological recording (you know, what the PAS is paid to promote) involves far more than that. Then the Trumpish hyperbole
We have some fantastic researchers using your finds in their work so once the objects are recorded that is not the end of their story. They continue to work to tell us more about the past and can be used time and time again for different types of research. [...] hese can then be used in research to learn more about our shared past.
Yeah? Being dots on distribution maps is about what most of them are capable of, or used in object-centred typological studies. In other words Naked Retro Brit-Kossinnism. 


Anonymous said...

I see there's not a word about the fact it would be better if the young person joined a local archaeology group instead, like all the FLOs clearly did. There must be at least some parents who'd be open to that reality, surely?

Paul Barford said...

I think this is another piece of PAS scatterbrain-dumbdown pseudo-outreach which does nothing to promote the aims with which PAS was set up and then optimistically formulated in 2003. Seen from that point of view, the Scheme is an undefensible scam, a failure. It shows quite transparently that PAS has no overall policy on that 'best practice' they abandoned instilling among their 'partners' years ago. What on earth PAS is doing advertising Lego as part of their attempts to appear 'relevant' is anybody's guess. British archaeology reduced to farce.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't strike me they are trying to be relevant in the real sense of the word. These days it tends to mean populist and dumbed down and clearly they think metal detecting is populist, dumbed down archaeology else how come that in 20 years no FLO has ever been photographed metal detecting?

Imagine the awkwardness at rallies, thousands of them, where someone says "here, get hold of this and have a go" and they have to concoct a reason for declining! Of course, I'll eat my words if anyone sends me a photograph proving otherwise. ;)

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