Friday 29 September 2017

Detector-Producer Responsibilities? Minelab CTX used for Context Trashing

Cressy and Andy the 'citizen archaeologists' shown context-trashing in a film they made ('CTX 3030 Finds me a Roman hoard') used a Minelab CTX 3030 dedicated Treasure detector. Here's the producer's blurb, it is
the ultimate high performance treasure detector! Discover more historical treasures with the most accurate target identification available.[...] With a full colour LCD and advanced Target Trace discrimination you will find more treasure, even amongst junk littered areas, in all ground conditions. [...] With the unrivalled performance of the CTX 3030 you’ll experience The Future of Discovery! [...] You can go detecting anywhere with this versatile TREASURE detector.
Of course that 'junk' may be other archaeological artefacts, just not Treasure. The notion of using a TREASURE detector on a known Roman site may not strike Minelab marketing department as a bad idea. Those of us who see the archaeological record as something other than a source of precious collectables will regard this somewhat differently. They may consider that CTX stands for 'Context Trashing and Extermination'. Context extermination is all a sixty-centimeter keyhole dug straight down into a sensitive archaeological deposit like a hoard by somebody armed with such a machine can achieve. The US-based firm markets their Treasure Detectors in the following terms:
With accurate target identification and discrimination - you'll find more treasure and dig less trash using a Minelab Treasure Detector!
Minelab Treasure Detectors are the FIRST CHOICE for:
Easy-to-use entry level detectors
Family adventures
Serious treasure hunters Professional and amateur archaeologists  
Beach and deep sea detecting [wreck trashing too? PMB]
From the entry level GO-FIND 20 to the ultimate CTX 3030, Minelab has the right treasure detector for you.
Perhaps somebody should tell  these profiteering clowns exploiting the selfish greed of foul-mouthed diggers that professional archaeologists are not engaged in a hunt for 'treasure', but that what is of value to their research is precisely what their tools destroy - the spatial and stratigraphic context of archaeological evidence in relation to other pieces of that evidence. Detector producers should be held corporately responsible for the wording of their own marketing. Responsible dealers should not handle products the marketing strategies of which associate them with the destruction of the archaeological heritage.

It is a standard tekkie mantra (oft repeated for them by the PAS) : "we ain't in it fer the munny".. so it is odd that the Minelab website has a bottom strap  which reads:

Not only for Collecting (or 'Study'), UK Artefact Hunters Discuss Possible Use of a Find

According to the dialogue on the film 'CTX 3030 Finds me a Roman hoard', the dog figure from Crazy Cressy and Andy's 'OUR Roman field hoard' may not come onto the market, subject to landowner approval:
Screen shot selected and captured by PMB from CrazyCressy7's You Tube film in public domain, fair use for comment and criticism 
Here is what they say about this doggie on the bonnet:
"We might not 'and this in, this moight look betta on Andy's bonnet  t' be honest... le'ss givit a go...  There you go, it's perfect, Rolls Royce style, [yeah I like that] [...] If I drilled a 'ole through there, through the back [yeah], bolt right the way through the bonnet, and jus' bolt it down
Why would anyone say such a thing? The mind boggles.

Screen shot selected and captured by PMB from CrazyCressy7's You Tube film in public domain, fair use for comment and criticism
Comments on the utter crassness of these people who the British Museum would have us believe are to be considered 'citizen archaeologists', anyone?

"Detecting Next to a Scheduled Site: Wow, dug up a Roman Skull with silver coin in Mouth"

Andrew Whittaker with his 'Deep Digger Dan' accent: 'Detecting next to a scheduled Roman site, burial ground looking for a potential hoard... then made a grisley discovery'

and the full documentation he made of the find will be equally illiterate no doubt. Targeting known site, the spill-over from the scheduled site over the hedge (archaeology knows no boundaries, protected status does though and the collectors take advantage of that). Also known to be a burial site ('radiocarboned radius') so this clown is there digging holes. Note how he's working right up against the hedge- the other side of which is nationally-significant archaeological site. He says his 'farmer friend' the farmer had specifically phoned him up to inform the artefact hunter that he'd ploughed deeper, pulling up archaeological material formerly below plough level into the plough zone - chances are that the deep ploughing might have been at the specific request of the detectorist to enable him to get his hands on the displaced goodies - like the two coins stuck together which he says were found here, and that skull. From its intact state, one can only infer that, unless put there after ploughing, it would have been brought up by a deep plough encased in a lump of stiff clay.

The Code of Responsible Metal Detecting tells artefact hunters what they are to do if they find human remains out in the country - indeed that is what the law quite clearly requires. The law does not allow  like Mr Whittaker  to pull them about on finding them because his metal detector bleeps - that may have been a coin, it may have been a bullet from a recent murder weapon or it may have been a metal object in association with a recent crime that Mr Whittaker's ham-fisted pulling around would negate any efforts by forensically-trained personel to use as evidence. To add to the image of the utter irresponsibility of the metal detctorist, Mr Whittaker is filmed as he pries the jawbone off the skull  because respect for human remains is nothing when there is potentially a collectable item to be had. Quite frankly, this video paints a sorry picture of the integrity of some metal detectorists.

TAKE A GOOD LOOK at this behaviour, for these are precisely the sort of people the PAS wants to grab more and more millions of public quid to make into the "partners" of the British Museum, archaeological heritage professionals and to whom they want us all to entrust the exploitation of the archaeological record. Take a good look and decide what you think about that as a "policy". 

Artefact Hunting Fer profit Plugged by Newspaper

Sue Austin, 'What a find! Medieval Papal seal found by metal detectorist in Oswestry' Shropshire Star : Sep 28, 2017
A Papal seal from medieval Rome has been found in a field in the Shropshire countryside. There have only been eight recorded finds of such seals in the UK, which were placed on important documents by the Pope. The ninth was discovered by those behind new business, Metal Detecting Holidays, near Oswestry, and dates back to the time of Pope Pius II, from about 1400 AD. It is the second find for the Whittington based holiday company this month, after US television star Jocelyn Elizabeth’ found a rare ‘pierced’ French 1553 Silver Teston coin. The Relic Recoverist presenter and other media detectorists including personalities from the National Geographic Channel’s Diggers who were invited by Chris Langston one of the co-founders of the company to try a holiday out for themselves.[...] The Metal Detecting Holidays company was set up Mr Langston, Louise Idoux and John Flaherty. 
Who no doubt aim to pocket hefty profits from selling off the local heritage to all comers for the mode3rn equivalent of thirty pieces of silver. 

The British Museum is 'Very Concerned'

There is some correspondence going on at the moment between myself, Nigel Swift and Michael Lewis in the BM (the FLO is staying quiet for the moment) about the method of recovery of the 'Roman-licking- doggie - hoard-from-somewhere-in-Gloucestershire'. Just for the record, this is part of what the BM guy said:
I am doubtful Paul's blog would say we raised this with PAS and they (me) were horrified by the excavation video? <
Here we go then. 'Paul's blog' is about presenting the truth about artefact hunting, collecting and the antiquities trade. I sent the PAS and FLO a link last night to the video showing the actual method of discovery of the hoard being splashed all over the news as an example of the 'benefits' archaeology allegedly gets from working with hoikers.  I do not think anyone would be surprised by the news that the reply I got was that they were 'very concerned' to see the same video that four and a half thousand others have in the month since it was posted up. So for the record, the PAS is 'very concerned'. The rest of us are indignant. 

Get over there now and look at it, my guess is that video is going to disappear now the BM is 'very concerned' about it.

Yep, video gone. 

Thursday 28 September 2017

Another false claim about metal detecting

Archaeologist Kurt Adams, the Gloucestershire and Avon finds
liaison officer, said
: [...] “Most amazing of all is a complete and finely
 detailed standing dog statue, which is a unique find for British archaeology.”
Well, it would be if it were not for the fact that it is not...
A rather odd looking doggie statue, said to be 'Roman' has been found by artefact hunters exploiting an archaeological site in Gloucestershire as a source of collectables (Press Association, 'Metal detectorists unearth unique hoard of Roman artefacts' Guardian   27 September 2017):
 A lucky metal detector enthusiast’s breathtaking find is a first in British history, according to archaeologists. A hoard of ancient Roman bronze artefacts includes a sculpture of a “licking” dog never found before in Britain. The 4th-century discovery was made by metal detectorists Pete Cresswell and his brother-in-law Andrew Boughton in Gloucestershire.
Stuff and nonsense, archaeologists need to check out their facts before speaking to the press. Like looking at other stuff in other collections first:
Housed in the Archaeology collections are 2 small dog figurines, part of a group of objects found at Llys Awel, Conwy. [...] The dogs are made from copper alloy and are about 5cm tall. They are seated with tails between their legs and tongues sticking out, as if in the action of licking. The figures are incredibly detailed with eyes, ears, nose, paws and fur texture well defined. They were probably made by the lost wax process, so there was only one chance to get the metal casting right. One dog was cast as a single piece, but the other revealed a slightly more complicated construction.
Penny Hill, 'The Healing Power of Dogs', Collections Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales 5 March 2014.

"We'll give it a bit more and we'll stop". Appalling excavation technique and destruction of Archaeological Information Captured in Candid Detectorists' Film [UPDATED]

Meanwhile, here are some foulmouthed oiks filming themselves hoiking out the Roman hoard... two feet down (60 cm) in "Our Roman Field". They are therefore targeting a known site and digging below plough level. According to the film, the whole thing was hoiked out roughly through a narrow hole dug straight down from above in just four hours.

 Disturbing video published on You Tube by CrazyCressy7 22 August 2017

It seems to me that the place to decide 'stop, we need to get this dug properly' is about a minute into this film. Sadly there are another eleven minutes of video where this does not come into their gor-blimey heads. Basically, 'shaking like fuck' because you are scrambling to get artefacts out of their context and heaped by the side of the hole is not really the best state to be in to get any kind of finesse in excavation and documentation of a find like this. 

'Oi go' summat real big in thh' 'ole, an' it orlmos' feals loik a sword'' is what the narrator says, so carries on trying to explore and document the context through a keyhole little bigger than the diameter of his hat dug blind straight down into this sensitive archaeological context. Is this what PAS teach finders these days through their PAStexplorers programme?  Is this what the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting tells them to do?

This filmed example of a destructive artefactual grabfest is another example of the spread of PAS carrier bag archaeological methodology begun with the example set at at Lenborough... this one is pink. How are principles of best practice to be promulgated among 'finders', when the organization set up to promote them in precisely this sort of milieu and this sort of situation lets everybody down by setting the most egregious of bad examples?

The key moment comes at the end, when all the metal objects are out (and after a discussion of whether one of the finds might look good bolted to the bonnet of the finder's car) the hoikers decide to remove any chance whatsoever of finding the feature the objects were in and its relation top other stratigraphy:
"right, I've been all around wiv the pinpointer, Andy's bin dahn there wiv a six-inch coil, 'as two foot deep, an' ah've go' no more signals. Bu' u'm goin' t' dig jus' a li'lle more owt, another spit deep jus't' double check. And Andy's made-er suggestion of  caving the sides in slowly to make the hole bigga and checking again as we do it, and Andy's still pulling tuns of stuff  out of there [the upcast] we've got all the spoil to' check yet.  That's what we're up to so far and I still 'aven't found an 'ammeresd coin wiv me CTX. Alright, get back to you" 
'Caving the sides in' is not a technique even 'citizen archaeologists' should be contemplating for such a delicate deposit. How the devil were they able to ascertain whether all those objects formed part of the same deposit by hoiking them out from above through a narrow hole which is then widened ('caved in') after - rather than at the commencement of the excavation? Where is the photo of the exposed upper surface showing the shape of the deposit and how it lay within the feature containing it? The drawn documentation seems to be missing that would be evidence showing which of these objects was in the three separate leather bags deposited on two separate occasions in an open feature. Where is it? And who is to say there were not four separate leather bags? What is the value of the archaeological information missing when a find like this is hoiked out in exactly the same way as a nineteenth century ferretter would scoop it out while digging out the burrow of his prey? Why is this sort of thing still happening in the twenty-first century?

Keyhole evuisceration: "Hoik Holes Destroy Stratigraphy"
- the message the PAS is NOT getting across to its so-called 'citizen archaeologists'
 Is  Kurt Adams reading this blog? Any comments Mr Adams about 'citizen archaeology' and 'responsible collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological resource by people like this? Let's hear it from the FLO.
Hat tip, anonymous detectorist

[UPDATE Mr Adams is apparently in no hurry to make any comment at all about the effing-and-blinding finders and their 'citizen archaeology' excavation techniques.  But other foul-mouthed citizens have joined in the debate  on archaeological method in the comments section below giving a real insight into the mentality of some of the group of people the PAS call their 'partners']

For this hoard being flogged off in July 2019, see here