Friday 20 July 2018

Detectorists 'Ask an Archaeologist'

On 'Ask and Archaeologist day' in the UK, after twenty years of archaeological outreach to artefact hunters, an 'association' of  metal detector users had a question:
@AskAnArchDay The Detectorist Code of Practice states: 'If detecting takes place on pasture, be careful to ensure that no damage is done to the archaeological value of the land, including earthworks. Avoid damaging stratified archaeological deposits'... Could you expand on this?
The name of the Code is misquoted. The PAS attempted to resolve their doubts:
Portable Antiquities ‏ @findsorguk 18 July in answer to @Detectorists_ @AskAnArchDay
Objects found on land other than ploughsoil (like pasture) may still be in their original context. This means the soils surrounding them may hold important info about that object's life. [...] This is why it's important to disturb the context as little as possible so the information can be retrieved. It is always best to stop digging and seek archaeological advice. Our recent article in @TheSearcherMag goes into more detail about this.
No, the reason that 'responsible' artefact hunters are asked not to dig down blindly into archaeological deposits is NOT to preserve the 'important info about that object's life' contained in 'the soils surrounding them', it is because the artefacts hoiked out are part of the information contained within those 'soils'. Duh. It seems somebody should be explaining archaeology to the PAS with their stubbornly artefact-centric tunnel vision.

The PAS was set up to inform the general public about the archaeological issues surrounding finds made by the general public. Why then is this outreach material (paid for wit public money) placed in niche interest collectors magazines? To find out about archaeology, is the PAS expecting the man in the street to go out and buy a publication promoting Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological record for personal entertainment and profit?

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