Thursday, 11 October 2018

A Bit Awkward for Artefact Collectors

The Portable Antiquities Scheme has long given collectors of decontextualised ancient artefacts succour and a hope that one day the 'restrictive' (= protective) legislation of most of the source countries for the artefacts they covet would be replaced by a laissez faire and unenforced legislation like in England and Wales:
"Advocates of collectors' rights point to the cultural property laws prevailing in the United Kingdom as being the most effective approach yet devised for effectively reconciling the many disparate, often conflicting goals, interests and concerns of all those interested in discovery and ownership of antiquities" (Dave Welsh). 
The problem is they offer little protection to sites preventing their collection-driven exploitation as a source for collectables for foreign dealers like Mr Welsh to sell and private collectors to accumulate. Supporters of the PAS have over the years come out with a lot of spun nonsense arguments suggesting that it's almost the next-best thing to sliced bread. That however is cutting no mustard with RESCUE, who are arguing precisely what I and Nigel Swift (among others) have been insisting a long while now:
Rescue believes that unregulated hobby detecting and other fieldwork does not contribute sufficient value or information to our understanding of the past to justify the damage caused to the wider archaeological resource

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