Sunday, 18 June 2017

Well, What DO the PAS think? [UPDATED]

Heritage Action have another cogent observation about how Britain treats the nation's archaeological heritage ('Metal detecting: six words that still can’t be said', 18th June 2017)
At a time when detectorists persuade farmers to deep plough to maximise their loot, when a huge registered business called Lets Go Digging is paying up to £1,000 to get access to farms and at a time when Dr Sam Hardy’s work is pointing to between 90 and 98 percent of recordable finds not being reported, we’d like to make the point we made a few years ago: “Ever heard PAS or the Government say “not reporting detecting finds is immoral?” How come? Well, Britain is special. It’s the country where theft of society’s knowledge of it’s past isn’t morally indefensible [...] [This] dates from when it became evident that most detectorists take “voluntary” to mean “not necessary”. At that point, for the Scheme to assert reporting was necessary on moral grounds would be to point out a too-painful truth to their partners and indeed to their funders. Thus, “moral obligation” has been dropped.
HA suggest that it would be an interesting litmus test of attitudes if one was to write to PAS, or one of the FLOs or the Government and ask them straight out “do you think not reporting detecting finds is immoral?” I thought I'd do just that: (the topic name comes from an earlier -bulk post requesting information):
Sunday, June 18, 2017 8:48 AM
To: 'Michael Lewis'; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; 'Mary Chester-Kadwell'; 'Helen Geake'; 'Lauren Speed'; 'Robert Webley'

Subject: Re: Maintaining high levels of reporting by artefact hunters: from Paul Barford

A question for the PAS from myself and Heritage Action:

do you think not reporting detecting finds is immoral?

Thank you
Paul Barford
UPDATE 13th June 2018 
And how many replies do you think that question received from fellow archaeologists? I'll give a clue, my inbox was not exactly flooded by fellow archaeologists speaking out firmly against taking archaeological artefacts and not recording them. In fact, not a single FLO or finds advisor was willing to do that. I bet that surprised you, no? .


Coldplayer said...

In using the term "theft" whilst not providing any evidence of such, is indefensible. Continually quoting a study (as Heritage Action does) which has "Estimate" in its title and contains in its conclusion the words "ESTIMATE, INFERRING, SUGGESTS, ASSUMED, APPEARS and PERHAPS, whilst also admitting to “the weakness of the available data”, is quite frankly disgraceful. As a professional archaeologist, you of all people should know, that demonstrable facts are of primary importance in any study. Sharing an observation that says it is "evident that most detectorists take voluntary to mean not necessary", without providing any such evidence, is reprehensible. Opinions are fine, yours is as valid as anybody's, as is Heritage Action's. But presenting opinions as fact IS immoral.

Paul Barford said...

I think you are getting lost in your own desire to defend artefact collection. In most countries removal of artefacts from the archaeologicl record in order to hang on to them is seen as "theft", stealing from follow citizens. Britian is one of the few countries that does not have this kind of legislatyion in place yet. In Britain therefore, as HA say 'theft of society’s knowledge of it’s past isn’t morally indefensible'. That's all. Your indignation seems to suggest that you agree that knowledge theft when it occurs is indeed morally reprehensible, yes?

Coldplayer said...

Well luckily I don't live in most countries, I live in a country where it is not theft and I find the use of the term offensive. I think you need to read my comments again. I am saying that HA are dressing opinion up as fact and I am saying that attributing meaning to a body of people without substantiating evidence is reprehensible. I see no evidence of being lost there. As to your suggestion that I agree that knowledge theft is indeed morally reprehensible, I would refer you back to my first sentence. In my opinion, you and HA have a predilection towards provocative terminology that does neither of you, or your stated causes a service. If you stuck to presenting facts and removed unnecessarily emotive language, you would probably be better received amongst the groups that you clearly wish to change. That, of course, is my opinion and not offered as a fact.

Paul Barford said...

But more people live in those most countries than on your little green island off the edge of Europe. In Europe widely what you islanders are doing is knowledge theft from the rest of us - and we see that as the 'offensive' attitude. We have no illusions about changing artefact collectors' opinion about themselves. This blog is bout artefact hunters, not for them. Wider public opinion is the key to controlling the damage.

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