Monday, 16 July 2018

Metal Detectors on Sale in the UK Right Now

for sale
eBay, right now, 'item location, UK only': 986 results (New 836, Used 141, For parts or not working 9). Of these 38 are kiddies detector toys.

Brands available today: New
Garrett (82 items)  Minelab (37 items) XP (33 items) Bounty Hunter (20 items) C.Scope (19 items)   Tesoro (12 items)  Viewee (11 items) Seben (11 items) White's Electronics (10 items) Makro (10 items) Nokta (9 items) Wildgame Innovations (9 items) Treasure Hunter (8 items) Golden Mask (8 items) Homcom (5 items) Fisher (1 item) Unbranded (88 items)   Not specified (460 items)

Brands available today Used:
 Garrett (32 items) C.Scope (13 items) Minelab (12 items) Tesoro (10 items) White's Electronics (8 items) XP (5 items)  Bounty Hunter (4 items)  Teknetics (4 items) OKM (3 items) Fisher (1 item) Makro (1 item) Nokta (1 item) Seben (1 item)  Treasure Hunter (1 item) Viking (1 item) Unbranded (5 items) Not specified (48 items) 

The fact that UK dealers alone are offering (so have the expectation of selling) 930 metal detectors in one week/month suggests that there are a fair number of potential customers in the UK - bearing in mind that many metal detectors are also sold in brick-and-mortar venues (as well as at rallies etc).  How many?

What is interesting is that in British antiquities, sold from the UK alone, there are only 367 'metal detecting finds' auctions, some bulk lots. Many of them however do not look like actual metal detecting finds from fields (as opposed to finds from 'antique-tat'  and charity shops).  

Sunday, 15 July 2018

A Revised Artefact Erosion Counter

The Counter should be treated 
seriously. The depletion and information
loss due to legal artefact hunting appears to be
on a far g
reater scale than the public is being told.

Heritage Action 2006

The implications of Sam Hardy's published figures for the Heritage Action artefact Erosion Counter: one recordable artefact pocketed every 12.76 seconds by 'licit' detecting alone since the beginning of the PAS.

And 'how many' of them did the PAS say they've recorded?  This is the elephant in the room ignored by the Ixelles Six /Helsinki Gang of academic apologists for artefact hunting and collecting.

Six academics distracted from what is important (Mark Bryan)
Now we have new and as yet unfalsified published figures available, let us see just how much of a deliberate underestimate the much-maligned (by artefact collectors and their supporters) Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter  actually represented. I started this counter at midnight of 15th July 2018. The 'since the start of the Portable Antiquities Scheme' starting figure then was 6,260,328.

counter by POWr editor

How Many 'Metal Detectorists' are there in England and Wales?

The Ixelles Six /Helsinki Gang debacle got me thinking about the data they were trying to ignore. For the past two years I had been struggling with the implications of some of Sam Hardy's recent research and the numbers he came up with. I have long asked the question concerning the scale of Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record as the only true background against which to measure the incessant 'propaganda of success' of the PAS and its supporters. They saw 'x000' more metal detectorists than a few years ago, and got 'y000' more artefacts in their database, all well and good, but to what degree are these figures representing any true mitigation of the information loss?

Back then (first years of the 21st century), there were some wild estimates of overall 'metal detectorist numbers', but nothing concrete. So I began to look into it. The figure I came up with in 2003 was quite a low one, 10000, with just over a thousand in Scotland. That was the basis for the figures used in the Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter. About 2010, I was forced to reassess that original estimate, it seemed to me that by that time the number had probably gone up to 16000 (Thomas 2012, 58-9 has a similar estimate), and I ascribed this to the PAS popularising the hobby through their support and promotion. That's when I really began to see the PAS as having a totally negative influence on the very problem that they had been set up to solve.

In 2011, the NCMD was claiming there were around 20000 metal detectorists in the UK. By 2015 the NCMD estimate appears to have risen to 25000 (see here and here), which I was inclined to dismiss at the time. But then in 2017 Sam Hardy produced his figures of 27000 'metal detectorists' (in England and Wales) and another 1000+ in Scotland. I must admit, though I thought his methods were sound and the figures he was using were the best available at the time, I really was a bit sceptical of such high numbers. Until I sketched a graph out. The two lower-left points are my own estimate, the three on the right are the NCMD's and Dr Hardy's. They seem to work together quite convincingly to tell a story of expansion of this damaging hobby on the PAS's watch. What however has not increased by the same degree is the proportion of the finds they are currently making being recorded in the public domain.

The implications of these figures would seem to be that the increase may have been of the order of 17000 more detectorists' in 17 years. That is that while PAS has been legitimising and promoting Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record, numbers of metal detector-using artefact hunters have been quite steadily rising by 1000 a year.  We have no statistics on the number of scattered ephemeral private artefact collections formed in the UK at the same time.

At what stage are Britain's heritage professionals going to get up off their complacent jobsworth arses and stop shoulder-shrugging and do something about this other than just smile and pat the collectors on the head?

UK Metal Detecting: The Blogs

With some 27000 of them in England and Wales alone, according to Sam Hardy, it is interesting to note how few metal detector using artefact hunters ('passionately interested in history') are actually blogging about that passion. Seeing as their discussions on forums demonstrate that few of them can  cope with texts longer than seven sentences anyway, perhaps that is not surprising. If anyone would like me to add any they know of, please comment.

Addicted to Bleeps (discontinued?) Kris Rodgers
Andy's treasure hunting cafe and metal detecting blog Andy Baines
Aurelia's Metal Detecting, One Woman and her Deus
Detecting and Collecting John Howland
Digging History/Detecting Blackpool (Discontinued)
Janner53`s Metal Detecting Blog (invited readers only)
John Brassey Notes from Retirement
John Winter John Winter
The Daily Detectorist (discontinued)
The Detectorist Metal Detector Reviews Site
The Ogley Dirt Farmer wozelbeak, 

  • Friday, 13 July 2018

    Collectors' Corner: What happens to dugup archaeological evidence at the hands of so-called 'Citizen Archaeologists'

    Some cutsey (passinitly intrestid in th' 'istry) narrativisation probably owing not a little to sources like Wikipedia
    Roman Empire Bronze Aurelianus of Aurelian Father of Christmas, Buy With Confidence from ModernCoinMart (MCM) on ebay

    Why purchase this Ancient Roman Empire Bronze Aurelianus of Aurelian?
    Aurelian was the 44th Emperor of the Roman Empire, and a devout pagan. Hoping to unify the Empire through a common religious belief, he forced worship of Invictus Sol, the pagan god of the Unconquered Sun, throughout the region. In 274 A.D., he proclaimed December 25th, the winter solstice, the feast day of Invictus Sol, and in celebration, he eliminated public debts and burned the records to gain favor of his people. Christian's celebrated the day, secretly worshiping their own god, resulting the establishment of the date of Christmas (Christ's Mass). Aurelian's grand gesture of generosity become known as the "Christmas Spirit", the inspiration behind the spirit of gift giving today.
    Aurelianus imagery
    The obverse bears the radiate portrait of Emperor Aurelian, an image similar to the previously issued Antoninianus, surrounded by his inscribed name and title. The reverse depicts the Emperor, victorious in military uniform, or illustrates a theme of the regime with images of gods and goddesses. The Aurelianus was struck from bronze with a diameter ranging from 21-23.5 mm, weighing 2.7-3.7 g.

    Attractive album with COA
    This ancient bronze Aurelianus commemorating Roman Emperor Aurelian was struck 270-275 A.D. It is presented in a handsome collectible album, along with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by a member of the American Numismatic Association. The album includes a detailed narrative explaining how Emperor Aurelian came to be known as the "Father of Christmas."

    Make this impressively packaged Roman Imperial Aurelianus the centerpiece of your ancient coin collection!
    No documentation of licit origins or export from the source country offered. Other people are selling these, but one of them tells us: 'our buyers have hand picked the highest quality and best looking coins from A hoard of 15,000 coins'.  No publication details of that (presumably legally declared , no?) hoard are given, let alone where it was found.

    It is interesting to note that though this specific coin is 'authenticated' by an authentic signature of  Robin L. Danziger, the accompanying narrativisation attached to it is generic ('reverse depicts the Emperor, victorious in military uniform, or illustrates a theme of the regime with images of gods and goddesses'). Sadly, the buyer is not informed about the nature of the exact reverse bought (which is in any case hidden by the way the coin is mounted) so they'll not learn from the seller about which 'gods and goddesses' are depicted and why. The Syrian links of Sol Invictus might have been topically stressed in the commercial narrative - as well as the eclectic and mutable nature of Roman culture at this time.

    Would Bloomsbury/Helsinki/Ixelles Six also be calling this approach to decontextualised collectables 'citizen archaeology'? Or in their eyes are artefacts like this only decontextualised by the people they call 'citizen archaeologists' who take them from the context of deposition and without documenting the context of discovery make them available to collectors? Or is the seller that wrote that generic narrativisation and 'preserved' the coin for display in that folder the 'citizen archaeologist' sharing his knowledge with the rest of us? Or perhaps the 'citizen archaeologist' of the Bloomsbury/Ixelles Six model is the collector who puts his trophies in a row and goes to Wikipedia and Wildwinds to find out about those pictures on the back. This object in its 'attractive album' with built-in Certificate of Authenticity and ready-made generic narrativisation is a product of Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record - so what precisely is the phase that in the eyes of Bloomsbury and the Ixelles Six academics is so-called 'citizen archaeology'? Or is none of it any kind of archaeology at all, but just collecting?

    Tuesday, 10 July 2018

    'Ixelles Six' or 'Helsinki Gang': love-child of SuALT and Addressing Finnish Academic Funding Body?

    I have used the term 'Ixelles Six' to refer to the representatives of four foreign universities and two British heritage organizations that for some reason joined hands across the seas to attempt to trash Sam Hardy's quantitative examination of  'Open source data on metal detecting for cultural property'. On looking up the academic bios and affiliations of these six authors it seems we should instead be talking of 'the Helsinki Gang', as all six of them are associated with a project involving (surprise surprise) collaborating with 'finders' and trying to turn their collectables into archaeological data. I should have spotted this before. But I'll stick with the sibilant 'Ixelles Six ' as the corresponding editor of both the 'Aspects' collection of papers as well as the response (Deckers et al.) is from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, which not only also has such funny (in this context) Latin mottos, but the toponym 'Brussels' has its own connotations these days.

    The Finnish Archaeological Finds Recording Linked Database / Suomen arkeologisten löytöjen linkitetty tietokanta – SuALT
    Sub-project 1: User Needs and Public Cultural Heritage Interactions (University of Helsinki)Principal Investigator: Dr Suzie Thomas, Researcher: Dr Anna Wessman, Research Assistant: Helinä Parviainen.

    Sub-Project 2: National Linked Open Data Service of Archaeological Finds in Finland (Aalto University and HELDIG – Helsinki Centre for Digital Humanities)Principal Investigator: Professor Eero Hyvönen, Researcher: Dr Jouni Tuominen, Researcher: Esko Ikkala, Researcher: Mikko Koho.
    Subproject 3: Ensuring Sustainability of SuALT (Museovirasto – Finnish Heritage Agency)
    Principal Investigator: Dr Ulla Salmela, Project Leader: Jutta Kuitunen, Project Manager: Ville Rohiola.
    Project PartnersDr Pieterjan Deckers, Associate Professor Andres S Dobat (Minos), Dr Stijn Heeren, Dr Michael Lewis, Julie Melin, Professor Bonnie Pitblado, Carsten Risager.
    Now Professor Pitblado and her vested interest in collaborating with collectors back home in te States has interesting associations for me, (hopefully indirectly) connected with another project I am doing at the moment, more of that another time. But here is what SuALT say about what they are doing, and we see here a direct transposition of the 'Bloomsbury View' of what archaeology is and archaeologist should do. The English Disease is spreading:
    About the project / Projektista
    The Finnish Archaeological Finds Recording Linked Open Database (SuALT) is a multidisciplinary project developing innovative solutions to respond to metal detecting and other non-professional encounters with archaeological material, applying semantic computing to “citizen science”. The growing flow of uncovered archaeological material poses challenges to researchers and collections finds data managers [sic]. We must support finders with legislative and also archaeological information. Easy to use tools to report finds and provide structured metadata are needed. Leaving finds cataloguing to curators is increasingly unfeasible given the increase in metal detecting. To make use of new data, cultural heritage managers, researchers and the public need search and analysis tools. Since finds are connected to existing collections, we also address cross-collection data interoperability. The methods and Open Source tools developed are also applicable to other cultural heritage citizen science fields.
    Citizen science? Nice Old Collection of Obsidian
    Arrowheads and Knives from Oregon
     (photo by lake-arrowhead-artifacts).
    By the fluffy term 'metal detecting' [as] 'non-professional encounters with archaeological material', they presumably largely mean Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record, so why do they not say so? Why not call a spade a spade in this transnational context?

    This then raises a question, in what way is collecting any kind of 'citizen science' any more than pheasant shooting citizen ornithology? I've asked this question before with relation to the collection of archaeological objects, but the supporters of the use of the term seem not to have any kind of answer, but instead are blithely continuing its use disseminating its uncritical use. This raises the question of whether this is just a meaningless buzzword that academics use to get grant money, so are unconcerned to define it properly.

    And then we find why the Ixelles Six disapprove of 'detractors' (sic) that base their opinions on how archaeologists should interact with people engaged in collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record on ethical standpoints (p. 322). They actually say here that they are engaged in 'supporting' such finders.

    What is significant here is that these six authors claim that there is nothing wrong with that, as pilfering random collectables from the archaeological record is 'not damaging' (it is even, they say [p. 323], 'fundamentally wrong' to suggest it is) and anyway there are 'social benefits' from supporting (sic) such pilfering if there is a recording scheme such as the Portable Antiquities Scheme in place (pp 328-330). I suppose SuALT is seen as the Finnish response to the collectors' need for a PAS. A sceptic might conclude that this would explain why they were so worried by Hardy's estimates that show that the PAS is not working to produce the effects (including social benefits) they claim (pp. 328-30) and presumably are the basis of their grant application for funding ('The funding is from the Academy of Finland, under decision numbers 310854, 310859, and 310860').  The response to Hardy's findings would surely only be academically responsible if it took proper account of and addresses all of the elements of his findings that contradict the fundamental assumptions underlying a project that they are all currently the beneficiaries of. I think readers can judge for themselves whether they have in fact done that, or satisfactorily and transparently countered the suggestions here that they have not in fact done that. 

    By the way, in case you were wondering, Finland is mentioned once by Hardy, page 14. No numbers are offered, but a curiosity is that Deckers et al. criticise him for not estimating those numbers (the ones he did not estimate) on the basis of a 'shorter detecting season in Finland' (p. 327, fn 3).

    Monday, 9 July 2018

    'Metal Detecting' (sic) 'Policy' (sic) in Bonkers Britain, not 'Complex' (sic) at all

    The Axis of Ixelles (PMB)
    Back in Bonkers Britain, there still seems to be confusion on what the public debate over Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record is all about. Here's my reply to one of a series of emails from Bloomsbury precipitated by my four posts (see below, Sunday 8th July) critiquing what the Ixelles Six wrote in Open Archaeology 2016 [2018] vol 2 issue 1:

    Mike Lewis wrote:We are advocating a system whereby detectorists take more responsibility for their actions through education, but (as you are aware) it is a long road… You seem to fail to recognise that detecting is a broad church, with some very conscientious individuals, and others that are crooks (a bit like society in general really). 
    Spoken like a true ‘non-professional metal detectorist’, that’s what they all say – so it’s by no means the first time anyone has heard that particular, but irrelevant,  ’argument’. Please save it for the compliant converted.
    You (plural) seem to fail to recognize Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record is damaging exploitation whether or not done with criminal intent. That is the point Hardy was making that you (plural) missed in your ‘response’.

    What else you (plural) missed in the Hardy’s text was the bit that really makes your implausibe ‘long road of education’ look positively futile. After twenty years of your ‘advocation’, Hardy says and you – plural -  fail to note or refute, perhaps 2,079,394 (96.13% of) recordable objects are not reported”. You would call that 96.13 percent “zero gain” (p. 324). The rest of us would say that is PAS-fluffy talk for 96.13% knowledge theft by “non-professional metal detectorists”. That is the whole point of my four-post critique of what the six of you produced. To pretend you did not see that is either simply carelessness or intellectual dishonesty. Which is it?
    By how much would Hardy have had to be wrong on this to make the whole defence (your – plural – whole section five pp. 328-330) by people representing four foreign universities  and two official bodies of this ‘liberal approach’ to Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record look anything but utterly Utopian, disconnected with reality and ridiculous?  This is not a “complexity”, it is shutting your (plural) academic eyes and ears to information that does not fit a pre-supposed model.

    Islamist Destruction of Antiquities a Rejection of Nationalism?

    Christopher W. Jones, 'Understanding ISIS's Destruction of Antiquities as a Rejection of Nationalism' Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology & Heritage Studies Vol. 6, No. 1-2 (2018), pp. 31-58.
    This article argues that the campaign of antiquities destruction waged by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) should be understood in the context of the group's rejection of the nation-state. The Ba'athist regimes of Iraq and Syria used archaeology not only as a tool to promote national unity but also as an ideological narrative to portray their states as continual recapitulations of their pasts. As a result, the pre-Islamic past came to be associated with secular nationalism. Since the secular state demands obedience to secular law, ISIS views it as idolatrous as it demands allegiance apart from God. The group considers the secular sacralization of antiquities in support of nationalism to be an aspect of this form of idolatry that justifies their destruction. Future efforts at cultural heritage preservation in the region will need to take into account the decline of Arab nationalist movements which once supported them.
    Keywords: ISIS, Ba'athism, nationalism, cultural heritage, Salafism, shirk

    Sunday, 8 July 2018

    Struggling with the Shumen Slab

    Police seized a stone tablet in Bulgaria in 2016, suspecting it was smuggled from the Middle East. The case was discussed here:
    Sunday, 29 March 2015  Bulgarian Artefact Bust - ShumenSunday, 16 August 2015 Bulgarian Antiquities Bust in news Again - Not ISIL LootMonday, 13 June 2016  What is Wrong with National Geographic's 6th June "Blood antiquities: Report? Monday, 9 January 2017  Bulgarian, Turkish Man Sentenced in Shumen for Trafficking Roman Artifacts from Middle East
    There is an interesting series of posts on the 'Sumerian Shakespeare' blog of Jerald Jack Starr Nashville, Tennessee  discussing the problems of identifying the nature of ungrounded (unpapered) artefacts like this on art-historical/typological grounds. After much to-ing and fro-ing, the blog's author decides that it is a fake (as PACHI said three years ago) and its relief was based on scenes copied from the Standard of Ur
    June 13, 2018 Copied from the Standard of Ur June 15, 2018 A Stolen Sumerian Artefact June 23 A Copy of the Standard of Ur 
    'For two weeks, I looked everywhere for a complete picture of the plaque, without success. I wrote to the New York Times and to the Shumen Museum, but they ignored me. Fortunately, a colleague sent me a copy'. They probably ignored him because he apparently could not be bothered to do his own research, the picture has been online all this time (as the link on my blog proclaims on Archaeology in Bulgaria).  The 'Sumerian Shakespeare' blog  is worth visiting though, there is some interesting stuff there. 

    'The Complexities of Metal Detecting Policy and Practice' (Summary)

    'Clean and wholesome'

    The four posts below this address a rather curious text recently published, apparently as part of an academic (I use the term loosely) discussion of  'aspects of no-professional metal detecting' [sic]. It is intended to be a reply, written by as many as six academics and heritage professionals to a recent text by Sam Hardy. The Ixelles Six, Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas see to have written their 'The Complexities of Metal Detecting Policy and Practice' to trash some of Hardy's arguments and conclusions. Since the matter that Hardy discusses is so important, I feel that a response is needed. Sam Hardy himself is preparing a response too but has other important commitments and has graciously allowed me to forestall his comments - and of course here I speak only for myself not him. At least one other more formal response is also believed to be in production, but these blog posts do not overlap with that in neither style nor content.

    Hardy's original paper was closely argued, produced data that led to the conclusions reached, detailed the sources from which they came. Deckers et al went on for eleven pages raising a whole array of points aiming to trash the argument (but NB rarely actually referring directly to the figures Hardy presented). My reply is, I am aware, rather too long, so this is a summary of which part says what.

    The first introduces the problem and polemises with the view presented by the Ixelles Six that artefact hunting 'does not really damage the archaeological record' and why the discussion of Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record has become polarised.

    Part two addresses in more detail based on the evidence of their text the viewpoint from which  the Ixelles Six were writing. I argue that their text very much sides with the artefact hunters (PAS 'parrtners' after all) that artefact hunting is not really all that damaging but the starting point of their deliberations is a narrow 'discovery- orientated view of archaeology and also one that is deeply object-centric.

    The third text dissects the manner in which the Ixelles Six go about constructing their argument. Six authors produced six sections, and the loaded (emotional) language used to discuss hardy's work is highlighted. I suggest that they are issue-dodging and engaged in building a smokescreen by attempting to divert discussion of the main theme onto tangents.

    My fourth text sums up and discusses the 'way forward'.

    A full list of the links to the individual posts is given here.

     All and any of the Ixelles Six authors, should they so wish, are of course and as always, at perfect liberty to add comments below all and any of these posts. I will publish them all unedited (but please note my 'guidelines' however). Go on. You really ought to. 


    'The Complexities of Metal Detecting Policy and Practice' (1) The Ixelles Three and their Problem

    Transnational context - metal
    detector uses in Poland
    Background I
    Back in February 2016Pieterjan Deckers of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Ixelles together with two colleagues, Suzie Thomas of Helsinki University and a British museum worker, Michael Lewis gathered for editing and online publication a series of texts on 'Aspects of Non-Professional Metal Detecting (sic) in Europe' [ANPMDE] (Deckers at al. eds 2016: Open Archaeology 2016, vol 2, Issue 1). The selection and overall content of this collection of texts is for the most part clearly intended to serve as an academic prop for the pro-collecting approach to archaeology so prevalent beyond Europe (in the USA and the UK). And so it is.

    I have discussed this collection of texts several times on this blog. I think the presentations of the issues involved in the selection published are very unbalanced, even though the editors claim otherwise, pretending to have taken a 'transnational' point of view - which in fact they have not. While it is true that the authors live in different countries, the concepts and terminology used reflect a particular manner of thinking of archaeology that fails to transgress borders. The 'aspects' chosen and discussed at most length are those that in general support the 'discovery-based' pro-collecting standpoint, and in general ignore the conservation-based position of those that question their position.* Never mind, the dogs bark but the caravan moves on.

    Except in this case it did not. The 'Ixelles Three', the editors of ANPMDE (the corresponding editor is Deckers of the Vrije Univeriteit Brussels), were dismayed to find that a bit further along the road, a year after their texts came out appeared a discussion by Sam Hardy ('Quantitative Analysis of Open Source Data on Metal Detecting for Cultural Property', [MDCP] Cogent Social Sciences 3, 2017) which added some more detail and took a transnational comparative approach to the problem on attempting a 'quantitative analysis of the scale and intensity of metal detecting and the quantity of metal-detected cultural goods' (Hardy 2017, p. 1) - remember that (see below).

    It looks as if the publication of that text really got the initial three editors worried, because it raised a number of urgent questions about the effects of current policies of 'partnering' artefact hunters as for example seen in England and Wales, and thus undercutting the message of ANPMDE. In what seems to have been a hasty damage control effort, they then roped in two other academics Andreas Dobat (Aarhus University) and Stijn Heeren (Vrije Univeriteit Amsterdam) but also Natasha Ferguson of Scotland's Treasure Trove Unit to write a 'response'. The resultant document has a rather long-winded title (Deckers, PS, Dobat, A, Ferguson, N, Heeren, S, Lewis, M and Thomas, S 2018, 'The Complexities of Metal Detecting Policy and Practice.: A Response to Samuel Hardy, ‘Quantitative Analysis of Open-Source Data on Metal Detecting for Cultural Property’ (Cogent Social Sciences 3, 2017)' Open Archaeology, bind 2018, nr. 4.).

    They Ixelles Six attempted to publish this response in Cogent Social Sciences, but were miffed to learn that, for one reason or another, that publication refused to give their polemic page-space (see Deckers et al 2018, 323). The editors of ANPMDE therefore decided belatedly to add it to their Open Archaeology selection of readings.

    Background II 'First Britain, then the World'
    There are a lot of artefact hunters all over the world that look with jealousy at British 'metal detectorists' who are only, in effect, restricted by the Treasure Act and the law of trespass. They csn without a second thought pocket all sorts of evidence collectables that do not fall foul of either. They can greedily fill their pockets with bits of everyone else's past. And that's what collectors of portable antiquities all around the world would like to do. So they point at the pernicious PAS propaganda of success ('wotta-lot-of-interesting-stuff-we-got-innit-fantastic?') and say
    'would it not be fantastic if our country had the English system? We could fill our pockets too. Why have we not got a system like this that works so well elsewhere?
    To their shame, in order to boost its own prestige, the PAS has been active in supporting  the pro-collecting lobby in various countries in their attempts to undermine the specific forms of heritage legislation in countries outside the UK: here for example, Mike Lewis to his disgrace tried to block discussion of PAS success in Warsaw (he did not). Here is a bit of a chapter about it in a forthcoming book). I see the book edited by Deckers et al as another attempt to do the same thing, its intent seems (among other things, no doubt) to spread the PAS-message to the Unelightened and Ignorant at the foot of the ivory tower.

    That in itself is not a problem if all the facts were being presented and given equal emphasis. The problem is that the PAS 'propaganda of success' is what is stressed. The problems that the PAS itself (intent on persuading lawmakers that they are 'real value-for-money) sweeps under the carpet have  not often surfaced in academic debate.Yet there really is something here that needs proper debate (as Hardy had pointed out).
    Maintaining Divisive Positions
    It is of course good that we have some kind of academic discussion going on around Hardy's paper. What is not good is the form this is taking. For some reason, academic (I use the term loosely) discussion of Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record goes differently than the discussions of absolute chronology of this or that phenomenon, the place of textile production in Bronze Age Aegean economies or other such stuff. What is the reason for this? To be honest, I really do not know, but we find Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas giving their explanation. The six authors all agree that:
    'Opinions [on Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record] are often polarised and based on ethical standpoints and even emotive arguments rather than a thorough understanding of the background, practices and impacts of [Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record]"
    [NB, to make clear what we are talking about, in both cases here I have substituted a more adequate description for the authors' original vague, waffly-anorakish term 'Non-professional metal detecting'].

    I think we could write several pages on this statement and the underlying attitudes it represents. Suffice here to say that:

    1) The authors fail to mention that the main reason for the polarisation involves different viewpoints on what archaeology is about. One side of the discussion (the supporters of collectors) seems to see archaeological evidence narrowly from the 'discovery' point of view, that is in one way and no other, while the other side sees it in a broader context as not only concerning creating new information, but also as a conservation issue with wider ramifications.

    2) I wonder why the authors imply that a position taken on anything, in archaeology as well as outside it, should *not* be based in an ethical standpoint. I would say that, among heritage professionals as well as academics, it is precisely archaeological ethics that should be providing guidelines for their opinion about anything that affects the archaeological resource, archaeological practice and the behaviour of archaeological professionals. I would like to see Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas tell us why this should not be a fundamental tenet underlying the profession and its response to anything, and why, if one is postulating a notion of 'responsible detecting' (sic), that responsibility should not be seen as artefact hunters adopting standards that are in accord with an ethical position on how the archaeological record should be being treated.

    3) Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas appear to dismiss opinions that differ from their own as merely based on 'emotions' (while I guess they'd probably claim their own is based on cool, objective academic thinking). They do not substantiate their claim, but as we shall see, it seems that the form and content of their text seems to reveal that they themselves have been trapped by their own (group?) emotions - see below.

    4) They seem to argue that nobody but Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas can have a 'thorough understanding of the background, practices and impacts of' Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record'. That seems a little arrogant in the circumstances (and, in any case, are any of them 'metal detectorists' (sic), in the sense of being collectors of archaeological material taken from archaeological sites?).

    5) In attempting a transnational treatment, why do they refer to Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record using the 1970s term 'metal detecting' (invented in anglophone circles to play down the associations aroused by the original term 'Treasure Hunting')? In order to widen their scope, they cite Shott and Pitblado over in the US (advocates for collaboration with artefact collectors), but of course lithic artefacts (what the latter are interested in) are not found with a metal detector. In truth, so-called 'metal detecting' is part of a wider phenomenon and should obviously be discussed within that context, and not as some kind of comfortably separate narrow independent field.

    There are three main groups of problems I see with the text that it took as many as six authors to write. The first is the viewpoint from which it is written (see part two of this) and then there is the issue of the relationship of what they say Hardy was writing about with what he actually was writing about - there is a huge gap between the two. Finally the manner in which these six heritage professionals set about responding to (refuting) what Hardy says (part three).

    *personal interest statement
    1) When the call for papers for the  ANPMDE book edited by the original Ixelles tThree (Deckers, Thomas and Lewis) came out, I wrote on my blog critically of the project, sure that it was going to promote the 'British approach' as the answer to all problems and 'the [not a] way forward', as collectors do. When the book came out, it turns out that I was right. In the meantime one of the editors [Deckers] had kindly invited me to contribute a text myself to the volume, setting out my views. Unfortunately due to other commitments [unlike the six authors I do not currently get paid for my research into and activism about portable antiquities issues], I was unable to meet the deadline set, and I was told that the paper could therefore not be accepted. It was galling therefore  to see two years after that 'firm deadline' passed, texts are still being added to that 'open archaeology' volume when the contents happen to support the editors' own views (as of course they could rightly assume the paper rejected unseen was not likely to do).  
    2) Along with two of the Ixelles Six, I commented on a draft of Hardy's paper, and the author followed some of my suggestions. While I do not necessarily agree with it on every point Sam makes, I think it is an extremely important text as I said here  (though it seems my cautious optimism in the cited text about it being a tide turner was a little premature; the Ixelles Six are intent on blocking debate on it a little longer)

    'The Complexities of Metal Detecting Policy and Practice' (2): The Ixelles Six and their Viewpoint

    Artefact hunting is not archaeology
    This is the second of four texts on the recent paper of  Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas 'The Complexities of Metal Detecting Policy and Practice' Responding to a text by Sam Hardy. In this section, I want to discuss the evidence from their own text which seems to indicate the viewpoint from which their response was written. This is important because one of the points on which these six academics criticize Hardy is the 'basic assumptions' ('incorrect', apparently) underlying his presentation of his research. So, what underlies their own world-view?

    Six Academics side with the Tekkies
    The authors themselves deny (Deckers et al. 2018, p. 323) that their text is a defence of what they call 'liberal approaches to [Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record],' but fail to step back a bit from their own efforts and see that that is precisely what they have written.

    One pointer to this is much of the content of the fifth section of the paper (pp. 328-330, 'policy choices: a range of motivations'). This contains exactly the same arguments as it would had UK 'non-professional metal detectorists' [sic] written it. What is more significant is that this whole section has not the slightest connection to what Hardy had written in the text to which this claims to be an academic development and response. As we shall see, this is not the only place where this text betrays the effects of prolonged contact with artefact hunters.

    A constant theme of the rhetoric of the metal detector using community of artefact hunters (frequently mentioned and discussed on this blog) is the 'we are not nighthawks, they are something else entirely' argument and the 'we are not in it for the money' one. It is notable that both are reflected in the text of these six academics.

    Look at their p. 325, where they write 'it is wrong to simply conflate hobby detectorists [sic] with commercial entrepreneurs as Hardy does' (p. 2). The first point would be that if both sides had used a real term cognate with Collection Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record, it would immediately resolve the non-problem of what these people are digging into archaeological sites and assemblages for. The second is that the reader on looking at what Hardy actually wrote (its there in black and white) finds no such equation. What he says is:
    Much “hobbyist” metal detecting (which inescapably encompasses detecting by commercial entrepreneurs and private collectors as well as by amateur archaeologists) 
    This is not the only place where the six academics fail to read what Hardy wrote with sufficient care to actually be able to represent what he said. Similarly, right at the beginning of their article (p. 1, footnote 2), Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas say:
    We use the terms ‘non-professional’, ‘hobby’, ‘leisure’ and ‘amateur’ detecting/detectorists as interchangeable terms throughout this paper, to distinguish the practice from both the use of metal detectors by professional archaeologists in the field, and by illicit detector users driven primarily by financial motivations.
    Now, this is from authors saying they are adopting a transnational viewpoint (which they unfairly accuse Hardy of not having). But perhaps they'd like to address the issue that in some of those other EU nations where metal detector use for searching for archaeological artefacts is illegal per se, users of these tools are using them for amassing personal artefact collections. Some good examples of this come from recent arrests in Greece, it is what we see in several parts of eastern Europe (Poland for example). This also is a reflection of the UK artefact hunters' (I have stressed meaningless, see also here) "we are not nighthawks" argument. Again adopting a more appropriate terminology, stressing Collection-Driven Exploitation (CDEAR), would aid clarification of what only becomes 'complex' by use of inappropriate and slanted terminology (CDE covers both private collecting as well as selling artefacts to private collectors).

    There are also elements of the wonky Bloomsbury 'citizen archaeologist' depiction of Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record with a metal detector throughout the text, beginning from a reference to 'detectorist fieldwork' [sic] on p. 323 right through to the end of the paper where artefact hunting is depicted as public engagement in archaeology - just like [this is irony] 'big-game hunting is related to ecology' no doubt (oh yes, and of course trophy hunters actually do make that argument).

    Six Academics Seem to State that Artefact Hunting is 'Not Damaging'
    For me, the most shocking statement of Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas is on page 323:
    As Hardy states, ‘metal detecting is far more destructive than archaeological excavation’ (2017, p. 2). We argue that such a categorical statement is fundamentally wrong.
    Whoah. They may think this and that they can in some way 'argue' the point, but (a) they do not actually present any arguments at all in their paper in support of their denial of the truth of what Hardy wrote, and (b) they are obviously wrong themselves. That is the whole reason why large segments of the archaeological world and informed public opinion are against looting/ raubgrabung/ разграбление of the archaeological record as a source of collectables. The Ixelles Six say they are all 'fundamentally' mistaken.

    Having learnt above that we cannot rely on what the six authors state Sam Hardy actually said, let us first of all see what Hardy actually wrote. It goes like this:
    This is significant, because archaeological excavation is a destructive process, where the loss of the archaeological deposit is minimised by the preservation of the scientific data, from the components of the deposit to the spatiotemporal relationships between those components. Much “hobbyist” metal detecting (which inescapably encompasses detecting by commercial entrepreneurs and private collectors as well as by amateur archaeologists) is far more destructive than archaeological excavation, because it is conducted with limited preservation of the components of the deposit and minimal (if any) preservation of the spatiotemporal relationships between the components.
    Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas apparently deny that there is limited preservation of the evidential components of any archaeological site hoovered for collectables by an artefact hunter. One might ask just what is their comprehension therefore of  the 'complexities' of 'metal detecting' practice - how archaeological evidence is transformed into a decontextualised collectable. Here, this does not concern the object-centred aspects of whether the object itself physically survives. It concerns the effects on the site exploited (and here the word 'exploitation' seems perfectly justified - artefact hunting is not 'fieldwork'). For it is clear that Hardy is discussing the damage done to sites and not primarily what happens to the objects pocketed by collectors - which seems to me to be what the academics Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas are instead focused on in their 'response' (pp 323-4). The object-centred approach is that of Montelius, Almgren and Kossinna... and the Ixelles Six, it seems.

    But more importantly, several passages in the polemic text seem to suggest that for these six authors, archaeology is not only about 'discovery', but also for them, the main research methodology is excavation. So only ripping artefacts from the topsoil is 'not damaging' because topsoil is not usually excavated (and the Staffordshire Hoard...?). This is a bit of an odd approach, since there are whole international projects which consist of methodical surface surveys of sites plotting the distribution across exposed sites (including those exposed by ploughing) of not only the diagnostic metal objects, pottery fabrics, but also elements of the archaeological record as stone-knapping waste, ceramic building material, wall plaster, industrial waste, iron nails and so on. In other words, precisely the things that artefact hunters do not pick up for their collections of metallic historical bric-a-brak, let alone document the patterns of their distribution across the area hoovered for collectables to pocket. These surface sites are being trashed by the selective removal of elements of that record just as much as  stratified site that is dug down into blindly.  As Hardy rightly says, the practice of artefact hunting on such surface sites is that in all but a few exceptions, it is done with 'minimal (if any) preservation of the spatiotemporal relationships between the components' of the record (all of them).

    Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas may be of the opinion that such a statement 'is 'fundamentally wrong' in a transnational context. I challenge them to demonstrate that as a general rule.  Even if a metal detector user has a 10-figure NGR for a bronze Roman child's bracelet, that is meaningless without a comparable plot of the density and distribution of pennant roof tile fragments, and ploughed up oolite slabs from disturbed cists, for example (to take just a simple example). But like 'metal detectorists', Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas do not see that there is 'context' in ploughsoil (p. 324).

    A typical metal detectorist and his collection
    They also mythologise collectors (p. 324), claiming that 'unreported information is not necessarlily lost' (leaving aside the fact alluded to above that information from unobserved features not docuemented is information loss). They claim this on the grounds that 'often (sic) detectorists (sic) keep private records of their finds and finds locations' and 'willingly give access to this information when asked by archaeologists' (reference here to US arrowhead collectors). PAS of course has very clear data on the extent to which this is true [ironic again], let them make those data available. There are however innumerable pieces of evidence, in the form of videos showing how artefacts are stored and documented once in an artefact hunter's home, especially from the UK (but also US lithics collections too may be compared, as may be the way most ancient coin collections have no documented findspots and collecting histories). These tend to suggest that cases as described by Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas are very much the exception. Again, it seems to me from what we know of actual collecting practice, that these six academics are trying to paint a 'fundamentally wrong' picture of the true extent of the problem.

    It seems to me that Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record by, for example, metal detecting, where the context of deposition of the artefacts removed cannot be known (because pickup is random and selective, so the context of discovery is also unkown), is damaging the archaeological record simply to provide an individual with their private piece of the past to pocket (whether or not he or she reports it). The aim of archaeological excavation is to recover and document patterns in the context of deposition through systematic, controlled, methodical discovery and record (context of discovery), and I really do not understand how six academics with archaeological training can in all seriousness claim that it is 'fundamentally wrong' to say the first is more damaging to the archaeological evidence than the other.

    The only way they could see it that way, I suppose would be if they are taking an  utterly object-centred view (which they would  share with the collector) that the getting the 'most interesting objects in hand' is the aim of archaeology. To see whether that is the case or not, I invite the reader to have a look at their pages 323-4, and just what is behind what they call Hardy's 'simplistic and basic assumption' (they claim, 'In order to be considered ‘cultural damage’, a find and/or its associated information would have to be irretrievably lost). Hmm. They then go on to say that even non-reported objects are not actually 'lost', but just represent 'zero gain' (p. 324). They forget to say that they also in fact represent a hole in the archaeological record of the site each was taken from (again, an object-centric view displaces the more holistic issue which is the state in which artefact hunters leave the site they exploit). In any case, they say, chances are, these 'objects' may not have been found by regulated fieldwork anyway (p. 324).  Except if there were a project in the future, or pre-development mitigation for example. This is also an argument used by self-focused collectors, an object not in their private collection is 'an object lost'. This is object-centric bonkers.

    'The Complexities of Metal Detecting Policy and Practice' (3): The Ixelles Six - Unreasonably Opiniated

    Academic nuisance behaviour
    in heritage debate
    This is the third of four texts on the recent paper of  Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas 'The Complexities of Metal Detecting Policy and Practice' responding to a text by Sam Hardy. In this section, I want to discuss the issue of how these six heritage professionals set about responding to the source text. Breaking it down in this manner is quite enlightening.

    The Issue to be Discussed
    First,  let us just recap in a nutshell what the problem is that Hardy is addressing. In many countries in Europe and beyond, the archaeological heritage is protected from damage and destruction by restrictive laws. In a minority of countries, the heritage protection laws are much less restrictive and provide fewer opportunities for direct intervention. Some archaeologists argue that such laissez faire situations are damaging and their existence and functioning pose questions that need to be addressed, if necessary by policy change. Others argue that the scale of damage is minimal, there is no problem, and no need to change anything much. Hardy set out to produce an estimate of the scale of the damage. The results of his study suggest that the problem is even greater than many of us imagined. This is rather uncomfortable for the position of the 'not-rocking-the-boat' collecting-enablers. It challenges the rationale behind their position. It is therefore easy to imagine why they would have a vested interest in trashing Hardy's figures.  This the Ixelles Six attempt to do.

    Their method. however. is not to provide reasonable evidence for lower estimates and correct Hardy's figures and thus supply 'more reliable' data of their own for discussion of the issues raised. Oh, no they do not. They ignore the underlying problem which is that Hardy's figures show that (voluntary) measures put in place to mitigate  the information loss from Collection Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record are not even scratching the surface of the problem. The Ixelles Six however replace discussion of this fundamental issue by an ad hominem attack on the author, his 'incorrect assumptions' and 'inappropriate' definitions, his 'simplistic' and 'unrealistic' approach. The academics Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas go about trashing Hardy's work, not by refining it and replacing it by any hard work of their own, but by merely snapping at his ankles.

    Nevertheless, their criticism cannot obscure the fact that Hardy's figures remain the latest estimate we have of the scale of the problem caused by current policies on CDEAR in these 'liberal' heritage protection (I use the term loosely) systems.  The first question I would put to the Ixelles Six is:
     'by how much would Hardy's figures have to be 'in error' for the scale of information loss through CDEAR to be acceptable?' (followed by, 'can you show that the error is indeed of that scale of magnitude?')
    Those are questions lazily wholly sidestepped in the 'response' of these six academics. I would say that is pretty scandalous behaviour, wouldn't you?

    Breakdown of the Modus Operandi of the Gang of Six 

    The polemic text Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas is arranged in six sections, let's take a look at them.

    After an introduction, the first section is called 'Simplistic and Incorrect Basic Assumptions' (pp 323-4). The second section (pp 324-326) has an even more damning subtitle 'Inapproprite or Unrealistic Definitions' [and in it we find two subsections '2.1 Legislation: Permissive vs. Restrictive'  and '2.2 Detectorist Behaviour: Licit vs. Illicit']. The third section (pp 326-7) claims 'A Skewed Perspective: Overlooking Regional Diversity'. The fourth has a more neutral title 'Cause and Effect' (pp 327-8), the fifth one - the longest - has in the circumstances (see below) a puzzling title 'Policy Choices (sic): A Range of Motivations' (pp 326-30, and then thankfully the diatribe comes to a close with 'The Way Forward' (pp 330-1) where cosmetically they point out six reasons why what Hardy did was 'good', qualified by the fact that they'd spent the previous eight pages attempting to totally trash everything he'd written. Some more coherent editorial control seems to be lacking there. 

    Let us take each of these sections in turn and summarise the authors' strategies.

    'Simplistic and  Incorrect Basic Assumptions' (pp 323-4). 
    It is here we find the authors' statement that it is (somehow, not really explained) 'fundamentally wrong' to say that Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record is damaging. They only offer a simplistic object-centred view that the objects remain and missing documentation might turn up). I do not really feel inclined to argue this. The Gang of Six do not make the effort to provide any more suitable arguments to disprove a substantial and widely accepted body of views in the archaeological community and public at large that looting damages sites and is not a good thing. All I will say is that I find their view puzzling, and consider that in no way have they demonstrated here that on the part of Sam Hardy, this is indeed what they call a 'simplistic and incorrect basic assumption'.  All of the other points Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas make in this section are totally irrelevant to the question that Hardy was attempting to address and most of them sound like apologetics for CDEAR. Point one to Hardy, I would say.

    'Inapproprite or Unrealistic Definitions
    In this section, Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas claim Hardy 'distinguishes' the two main groups of heritage protection systems and also detectorist behaviour in 'an overly dichotomous way'. I really do not think they actually have a point. In the case of legislative systems, in transnational perspective, it is pretty obvious that no two countries will have a carbon-copy of the heritage legislation of another, for example Venezuala and Mexico, Egypt and Ecuador, Nigeria and Norway. In the same way no two examples of any other kind of system (national healthcare, banking systems, judicial procedures, esturine saltmarsh ecosystems etc) will be identical. This does not mean that one cannot compare and contrast estuarine ecosystems with coral reef ones. Likewise, to say that there is often no hard line between 'licit' and 'illicit' behaviour of artefact hunters and that Hardy is somehow 'wrong' when he distinguishes them uncharitably misses the point of what Hardy was actually doing (to clarify, Hardy was faced with the difficulty that one would use different sources to investigate artefact hunting taking place openly because it is allowed, and clandestinely because the artefact hunter is breaking the law). These are neither 'inappropriate' nor 'unrealistic' definitions', rather it is the sniping of the Ixelles Six that seems to me wide of the mark, and inappropriate to the situation. Point two to Hardy.

    'A Skewed Perspective: Overlooking Regional Diversity'.   
    In this third section,  Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas (pp 326-7) attempt to show that Hardy has in some way overlooked the way detecting practices may vary between countries. That is an odd claim in the case of a paper that actually attempts (on the basis of the information actually available), to determine the scale of detecting activity in different countries (!). The criticisms of the Ixelles Six are difficult to follow and it is unclear to me what they are getting at. In their obvious desire to cast doubt on Hardy's conclusions, they seem to be nit-picking over insignificant points (Hardy's aim was not to determine reasons for the 'varying popularity (sic) of the metal detecting hobby' p. 327 anywhere). On page 326 they latch on to a single work cited in Hardy's text (Marc 2008) 'that is over a decade old' and 'questions must be raised...'. I'd say the questions need to be raised about the intellectual honesty of the six academics who pick on this, because if we look at how it functions in Hardy's paper (pp. 24, 28, 39 - only in three places alongside other cited works), that text does not fulfill the function in Hardy's reasoning that the Six ascribe to it. Carelessness or willful misrepresentation?

    I will mention in passing the Six's comments that if Hardy had taken a look at Poland (unrealistic [IMO] shock-horror figures quoted by them) * and suggesting that the 'number [...] of detectorists active under restrictive legislation in Poland might have affected the overall conclusions regarding the effectiveness of liberal versus restrictive schemes [sic]'. Once again, we find the problem arises from the use of that term 'metal detector users' instead of defining the activity. We also see, again, the Ixelles Six falling into the same trap as they accuse Hardy of being ensnared in. Polish law is very precise what activities are forbidden, and in general, Polish metal detector users keep away from infringing those laws. Those laws do not however specifically forbid searching WW2 sites and anyone who had any contact and familiarity with the subject would be well aware of the difference between the type of artefact/relic collections built in Poland and those built in (say) England and Wales. The PAS, for example, is not all that interested in WW2 sites.

    Once again we see the effects of the Six's fixation with one of the conclusions of Hardy's paper (that sites in areas where metal detecting is allowed and condoned are subject to more damage than sites in areas where the laws forbid artefact hunting and collecting) at the expense of the other. And what they 'somehow' (pretend to?) fail to notice is that no matter how many hours a Canadian or Finnish detectorist goes out on his or her productive sites a year, Hardy's figures for England and Wales (and Scotland) are still applicable. Until the Six show that they are false, then the whole 'PAS-is-a-fantastic-success-and-should-be-emulated-everywhere'  model promoted by the collection of papers in which this response appears collapses. The Ixelles Six have failed to falsify this simple statement in Hardy's conclusion:
    Thus, in England and Wales, licit detectorists recover perhaps 2,163,189 recordable objects in one year (Table 27), while they report an average of 83,795 objects (Portable Antiquities Scheme, 2016), so perhaps 2,079,394 (96.13% of) recordable objects are not reported; illicit detectorists recover perhaps 310,332 recordable objects (Table 26), none of which is reported accurately, though some of those may be laundered by being reported inaccurately. Hence, within this permissive regulatory environment, it appears that licit detectorists cause far more licit cultural harm than illicit detectorists commit criminal damage.
    Zero points for the Ixelles Six, advantage Hardy

    'Cause and Effect'.   
    In this fourth section, the argumentation of Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas really seems to lose touch with reality. Again, this is due to their fixation with trying to show that 'liberal' legislative approaches to Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record do not allow damage to be done to countless archaeological sites. Once again, we get at the end of the passage (p. 328) the junk argument that hoiking artefacts from patterned assemblages in the topsoil allegedly does no harm to the evidential value of those scatters (false) and then the introduction of the object-centred 'collecting as rescue' mantra (to save space, I am not going to discuss this, Deckers et al. present it as a 'common sense fact' and offer no supporting evidence here, and I hold that it is an argument based on false premises - and I've written about that elsewhere many times).

    The Ixelles Six suggest that Hardy 'confuses co-variation with causation' (whatever they mean by that) and try to propose (p. 327) that perhaps 'a permissive legislation [...] is more likely to arise (sic) in contexts where metal detecting (sic) is widely and openly practiced'. I think this passage shows an enormous disconnect with the real reason why Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record was possible to widely and openly be practiced in some countries, which is the pre-existence of the legislative system powerless to STOP it. The clearest case of this was England and Wales [as the person who I suspect from the punctuation wrote that particular passage should be well aware]. So why is cause and effect being confused by six academics trying to accuse another of muddling cause and effect? Beats me, but this is a pathetic showing. Zero points for the Ixelles Six, advantage Hardy.

     ''Policy Choices (sic): A Range of Motivations'.   
    In section five, the six academics Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas expand on what they wrote in the previous section. Since it is not true that for the most part a particular type of legislation has been 'chosen' with the 'motivation' of enabling private collectors to ransack the archaeological record, I think this whole section (328-330) is entirely superfluous. It has zero relevance to anything Hardy wrote (to which they pretend their article is a 'response'). It is instead oozing with justification for Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record. To save space, I am not going to discuss it here, we can come back to it in another context. It brings nothing at all to what Hardy was writing about (but which these six are avoiding discussing properly in the framework of what he actually wrote). This is therefore 'academic' smokescreen. Point to Hardy for being more focused than the gang of six academics opposing him.

    'The Way Forward'.   
    The sixth section (pp 330-1) of the article of Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas is pretty ineffective and unfocused as a description of a transnational 'way forward' in dealing with the issues caused by Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record. Having written five sections solidly expounding on how rubbishy Hardy's approach is, they then reel out six areas where what Hardy wrote is somehow 'good' after all. It is a shame that this is only tacked on, apparently as an afterthought, at the end, rather than being incorporated in the body of the text to make a more balanced argument throughout. Again, poor and hurried editing seems at fault.

    In all the fluffy verbiage and repetition in this section, it is difficult to see the 'way forward' the six of them discussed after reading Hardy's text. They seem to be saying the obvious, that more quantitative data on the model of Hardy's paper are needed, on the basis of which legislation can be developed 'grounded in a thorough analysis of all the relevant variables' (p. 330). These data (p. 331) should incorporate information from a variety of sources (again this is self-evident) and including what they call 'ground truthing with organizations and national and local authorities responsible for engaging with metal detectorists' (p. 331). What is needed, they say (p. 331), building on Hardy's 'formula'  (sic) are 'sophisticated, testable algorithms that express the impact of legislation and policy on public interaction with heritage'. Comparing countries they say will 'untangle cause and effect' (p. 330) and the international perspective will help 'transcend the current entrenched (sic) positions of European archaeologists with regards (sic) to [Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record]'. There they end, and there we too may take a break and move on to a summary.

    *Yes, I can see I am going to have to do my own write-up of metal detecting in Poland.

    'The Complexities of Metal Detecting Policy and Practice' (4): Summing up the 'Contribution' of the Ixelles Six

    The three monkeys well represent the
    standpoint of the Gang of Ixelles Six 
    It is time to sum up the unfortunate response by six academics to a recent text by Sam Hardy. The Ixelles Six, Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas wrote their 'The Complexities of Metal Detecting Policy and Practice' seemingly to trash some of Hardy's arguments and conclusions. Here it is worth reminding that the most important of Hardy's conclusions, in the context of the heritage debate, is that in countries with 'liberal' heritage protection (I use the term loosely) legislation, the approach adopted to 'deal with' the damage done to archaeological sites by recording findspots of loose artefacts is not working. In the case of the situation in England and Wales (as the Gang of Six themselves note, p. 326), the area from which Hardy had best access to data, Sam Hardy has this to say:
    in England and Wales, licit detectorists recover perhaps 2,163,189 recordable objects in one year (Table 27), while they report an average of 83,795 objects [...] so perhaps 2,079,394 (96.13% of) recordable objects are not reported; illicit detectorists recover perhaps 310,332 recordable objects (Table 26), none of which is reported accurately, though some of those may be laundered by being reported inaccurately. Hence, within this permissive regulatory environment, it appears that licit detectorists cause far more licit cultural harm than illicit detectorists commit criminal damage. [...]  
    The first point to be made is that the six heritage professionals writing a response to the text which comes to that shocking conclusion consistently ignore that fundamental point. Instead they focus on side issues such as how a 'liberal approach' to the damage caused by Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record could be a good (pp 328-330) thing, the length of the 'detecting season' in Canada and Finland (p. 327), and lamenting (p. 326) that Hardy did not discuss Poland or France and insisting that a jolly good idea would be to look at the amount of land available for detecting (sic) in different countries (p. 325). The problem however is right under their noses, and they shut their eyes, ears to it and refuse to speak about this enormous elephant standing right in the middle of the room.

    Six academics distracted from what is important (Mark Bryan)
    The figures Hardy produces show that the problem is greater than the PAS has estimated (perhaps 63.6% unreported reportable artefacts), and bigger than the Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter (over 72.5%). Hardy's realistic and still-unfalsified estimate is that at least 96.13% of artefact-hunted artefacts found with a metal detector (alone) are disappearing into collectors' pockets without any kind of record. Deckers, Dobat Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas (p. 324) may claim that this is 'not damage' or 'zero gain', but I think the rest of us can see if journalists would report that 96% of students and staff of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel who went into the local hospital for minor surgery (ingrowing toenails, boob jobs etc) died there, that would not 'zero gain' but a national scandal that needs to be investigated and changes made. So why not here? Why are these academics silent on this? This is knowledge theft on a massive scale, yet the six academics are totally ignoring it, and offset it with some wishy-washy alleged 'benefits' of allowing this to happen (pp 328-330). Why?

     One factor is that Prof. Deckers invited as one of the collaborating authors of this article the Head of the very same Portable Antiquities Scheme that is failing, according to Hardy's figures, to cope with the problem that it was set up to manage. He is the head of an organization charged with telling the British public about precisely these portable antiquities issues, and explaining to them why this knowledge theft is indefensible. Not only does his PAS refuse to do that, as I have shown not once in this blog, it actually give the public and lawmakers the opposite message. Is Mike Lewis in a position to address Hardy's conclusions objectively? Should he have been co-opted to a group of authors who jolly well should be doing precisely that (what do we have academics for anyway)?

    In their 'way forward' (pp 330-331) what we do not notice is any suggestion of the Ixelles Six that public opinion needs to be informed of these issues. Yet they, not a minority of metal detector users and coin fondlers (or stubbornly-entrenched academics), are the main stakeholders. The Ixelles Six seem to treat the issues addressed by Hardy as an ivory tower matter, a subject for grant applications so they and their academic mates can collect numbers, do some transnational networking and travelling, and churn out more papers on how 'complex' this whole matter is.

    It is not complex. Figures have just been published that suggest that under the noses of PAS and all of us, and especially in England and Wales (let alone Scotland), there is massive undocumented depletion of the archaeological record at the hand of greedy artefact collectors. What is 'complicated' in that messers Deckers, Dobat, Ferguson, Heeren, Lewis and Thomas ? Eh? Why did you not discuss this properly? What are you afraid of? The grant money running out?

    What is also missing from the 'Way forward' envisaged by the Ixelles Six is the clear statement that we need broad-based and objective scholarship that considers the issue of Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record in its wider contexts, as part of that global demand for portably-pocketable pieces of the past, and the (real) conservation issues involved (and I'm not talking about that glib 'ploughsoil-rescue' myth of theirs). What we do not need is the pro-collector fluffy verbiage and repetition of tired 'discovery'-orientated mantra-arguments that have dominated the discussion recently (most of it inspired by the existence and fake-news 'propaganda of success' of the PAS).

    Yes we need more quantitative data on the model of Hardy's paper. And we need it right now, as artefact hunting with metal detectors leaves its fourth destructive decade for its fifth. Yes, we need to use these figures to influence public opinion, make antiquity hunting and collecting the new fur-wearing. We need to get lawmakers to treat this seriously and develop means of regulation of this destruction (site/project-related permits?) and the development of suitable legislation to channel this 'interest in history' into something that can be sustainably managed.  And yes, this will include using  'organizations and national and local authorities responsible for engaging with metal detectorists' [and other artefact collectors and sellers]' (p. 331) to do some 'ground truthing'. What is really irritating is that when it comes to the PAS, active for twenty years now at an average all told of upwards of 1.5 million quid thrown annually at it (for those 3% records!), that we do not already have a comprehensive report on detecting practices and all we have is a scattering of student theses and Robbins and Bland's text, which falls short of the mark of what is actually required. Where  are the results in objective scientific description terms of twenty years of PAS liaison and 'partnership'. Where is the sociology and ethnology of artefact hunting and collecting in England and Wales we should be now have as a result?  And Scotland?

    Where after twenty years of liaison and 'partnership' is public opinion and the academic community presented (by the organizations and national and local authorities responsible for engaging with metal detector using artefact hunters) with  'sophisticated, testable algorithms that express the impact of legislation and policy on public interaction with heritage'? Why is it up to people like Sam Hardy to produce one and then face the unfair and unbalanced criticism of people like Mike Lewis and the Ixelles pro-collecting gang who've not yet had the nous to achieve it (apparently because it's 'too complex'?) themselves. The six can snap at the ankles of somebody who tries, pontificate about how 'complex' it is, but do not attempt to offer anything substantial in the place of the efforts they so facilely dismiss.

    And this is important not only for the reason of the destruction of the archaeological record at the hands of greedy collectors which these people are turning a blind eye to. They claim that the destruction 'does not matter' as archaeological data are generated as a result. What they fail to note is that one of the key elements of Dr Hardy's reasoning is the information from surveys carried out among Britisjh detectorists by Katherine Robbins. That they do not notice that and harp on about 'Marc 2004' is not surprising, given their all-too-obvious bias. What actually is important  in the question of whether information from collectors can be used as a basis for any kind of serious research is the question Robbins was addressing: ' From past to present: Understanding the impact of samplingbias on data recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme (unpublished PhD thesis). University of SouthamptonSouthampton. Robbins thought there were 12,415 detectorists in England and Wales (v. 1, p. 85 n52), less than half of what Hardy estimates - so what kind of  totally unreprsentative 'data' are the PAS creating in fact? One would expect the Ixelles Six to have been interested in addressing that question. 

     Finally, if we are talking about what England and Wales must do to end and STOP the spread of this  plague, I really do not see how 'comparing countries' will help. It is not really important how Nazi Germany and Mubarak's Egypt (or Saddam's Iraq) solved this problem, the social conditions are different (as the events after Egypt's 2011 'revolution' showed, very specific to a particular system). What is important is, for example, how Britain deals with the problem that Britain has. And Hardy's figures show that Britain has a huge problem with its artefact hunters and collectors. Huge and unresolved. I do not think that Poland need pay any attention to what Britain has or has not achieved in this area because Poland is not Britain, Poles are not British and Polish metal detectors may use the same machines as their British counterparts, but in a totally different way. Transnational approaches can only work if we all speak the same language, but all the Ixelles Six have shown is that they all only all only speak PAS-talk.

    When Britain has been kicked out of Europe and no longer counts here, and the PAS is underfunded out of existence and we can start talking about site preservation without their pernicious interference, then we may be able to have a proper grown-up trans-national dialogue. But at the moment, the Ixelles Six have shown, we are not yet ready for it.

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