Saturday 28 December 2019

The ISIL Crisis is not Over

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed by the U.S. in October 2019. But does his death actually mean the death of ISIS? Al Jazeera+ looks at how the US war on terror, the Iraq War and the destabilization of Syria played a role in the rise of the group – and how these factors could help ISIS survive [Age-restricted video].
The antiquities from sites being looted while all this was going on are, with other assets, still in somebody's hands. Whose? Where and how will they be monetised? And to what ends? 

Writing on Archaeology for the Wider Public

Interesting discussion of raising standards in archaeology writing for the public: Andre Costopoulos, 'Alternatives to the word “mysterious”: A short guide to writing archaeology headlines for media editors', ArcheoThoughts December 28, 2019
In short, I think editors, in constructing their archaeology headlines, should favour terms that denote interest and excitement, but that also invite further inquiry. They should be words that point to action rather than contemplation, that highlight opportunities rather than showing distance and unattainability.
They should definitely be words that avoid reinforcing the quite mistaken impression that there is a cabal of keepers of arcane archaeological knowledge, hell-bent on hiding the truth from the sleep-walking masses, lest they emancipate. Or if there is, I’m still waiting for my invitation.
Archaeology is about asking and answering questions about the past with extremely limited, fragmentary, and imperfect evidence. It is quite mysterious enough as it is.

Collectors' Corner: Citizen Archaeologist, "If you think this is not a real artifact, you are a fool"

Seller paleolithicplateau (98) from Hardy, Arkansas, United States is pretty sure about her identification of this piece of stone as an artefact and what it means ('HAND AXE genuine with documentation Paleolithic Prehistory Artifact')
If you don't think this is a genuine unmodified by modern man artifact then you're a fool and should buy a fake. This is a magnificent multi use tool. It is a mixer and or paint pot, a scraper as seen in chert on the lower left hand side, a sharpener also on the left side above the scraper and a hammer stone/crusher/pounder. And it is Effigy of Man. What is paramount to know is that it fits into the hand so snugly that a sheet of paper can barely make it through. Every fold of the palm fits like a glove. There are hafted grooves for the thumb and fingers. The hafted base is darkened from skin oils. It is genuine.

Paleolithic , Neolithic or so called "cave men" aka Early Man walked the karst topography of the Ozark Plateau so many years ago. He used the rocks stones shells bone and wood for implements to crush, shape, mix that which sustained him.
There are no signs that he used arrows as the Indian of the 17th 18th and 19th century did.
There are no signs that he was violent toward others so there are no war clubs .
But they were afraid of something as seen in the countless Effigy Stones of what I call "Man Aghast" which depicts the open mouth and wide eyed look of fright.
This is depicted in all different rock types and in all sizes.
Early Man also made stone Zoomorphic figures. Here on the Ozark Plateau it was Turtle Duck Fish and Lizard which is what was the food source along with nuts (Hickory Walnut etc.) and berries and fruits (Persimmon etc) as well as grasses roots and grains.

As many of us know, we have been lied to about our history, the Earth and just about everything else.
So called 'Science' absolutely refuses to acknowledge a Divine Intelligence that Created All Life.
Evolution is still taught in schools!
Man is Man and Ape is Ape.
I have sold the stone tools that I have found all over the world to museums and schools as well as private collectors and all of them have been scientifically tested. I guarantee their authenticity and offer a 30 day return. The exact location of where this tool was found will be included. Thank-you!
Provenance: Ownership History Available
And of course those 'Early man' skin oils are still preserved because the earth was made in seven days beginning on October 23, 4004 BC. The descriptions of her ('Susan') other artefacts runs in a similar vein (such as this one, a 'CHERT & SANDSTONE PESTLE GRINDER BIRD STONE TOOL Ancient Artifact'):
This is a class or grouping or collection or cache or bunch of or period of tools of early man which are almost exclusively made from Chert which is like flint in that it is a very hard stone and becomes sharp when broken hafted knapped whacked off and Sandstone. It is uncleaned and found as is. Hasn't been all "dolled up" or fake polished. You know, it amazes me the "artifacts" that I see on Ebay. One would think that those who lived before us and without electricity that had to find and hunt down then prepare their own food and do all the essentials of life using just rocks, would have a much broader amount of implements.(which they did) So you'd think that there would be more than... arrowheads, grooved axes, bannerstones and the occasional gorget. But that is all you see on Ebay. Can you imagine if we were shown as being so simplistic? That the future people thought that we didn't possess more than a hammer, saw and wrench? And only one type of wrench? So please ,do you really think that all you see on Ebay is all there is? And the exorbitant prices charged. How elitist. Pricing something so high that it puts it out of reach for those that want to hold a piece of way back history in their hand is just greedy selfish and f-cked up. So, let's go over some quick facts.
Darwin was wrong
Smithsonian is a big fat liar
Earth was not created by the banging of two rocks together. aka the Big Bang
Not all stone tool implements are highly stylized.. No time for that, they just needed a rock which would do the job, crush a nut, strip a reed, sharpen another rock, mix together some stuff be it paint or medicine, scrap a hide, clean a finger nail, sew a garment and the biggie, Start Fire!! Go on go try to start a fire with just what you find on the ground.

That said, I have been collecting and artifact hunting for over 12 years now and have amassed hundreds of ancient stone tools which I know intimately and love every single one. They line every bookcase, tabletop and railing around me. I have effigy scrapers that sit next to my printer and when I put paper in I stop and admire them for the one hundredth time. Shoot I have a translucent bear effigy knife sitting on my laptop as I write this, and although I found him years ago I took it off the shelf to gaze in wonderment once again. And I am gonna' start listing many of them. For if they can give to someone else the sense of awe and joy that they give me, all the better. Funny but true, I actually say goodbye to the stone tool artifacts that I sell and miss them! If you have gotten this far in my ranting then you must be cool and know what I'm talking about.
I guarantee that all I list is unaltered by modern man, is not a fluke of nature, will pass any and all scientific testing because they are what they are authentic artifacts of those who walked before us. I have sold to museums, schools and private collectors worldwide. All are found on private land.
In reality, the photos show an odd-shaped (but naturally shaped) cobble.

I think the point about this is, this is what historiography of collectors looks like. These are not 'citizen archaeologists', they are misinformed fantasists utilising a 'it looks like' pseudo-methodology to interpret the objects they have found or otherwise got their hands on. This is coupled with a self-delusion of their own 'common sense' abilities that trumps those of the experts (the familiar 'who needs experts?') who are seen here as not only mistaken, but also elitists and liars. This is 'karaoke antiquitism' where in the absence of academic scruitiny, checks and need for any form of substantiation, 'anything goes' and often does. It seems to me that archaeologists that let this pass with a shrug of the shoulders, and not only tolerate and condone artefact collecting, but even encourage it, are missing the emergence of an important phenomenon, a public that has no idea of the difference between real archaeology and fake archaeology - and actually does not care. If that is the result, then questions may be asked whether we need the (more expensive) real archaeology at all. Why bother if everyone can just pick up a stone that 'hefts' well, and make up their own fantastic story about the past. There are many 'stone fondling fantasisers' like this on on ebay. Not only are they putting stuff like this up with their fulsome narrativisation, they are finding many other members of the public that are not only listening and buying them, but then posting comments full of exultant praise of the seller and the artefact they have come to own to display to their friends and families - spreading the stories.

Friday 27 December 2019

In England Too, Coineys Marketing to Schoolkids

   Richard Beale  (Roma Numismatics)  

Shopkeepers being shopkeepers:
Roma Numismatics Limited (24th Dec 2019)
It has been an incredibly busy and at times very stressful year. Between the 15 auctions we ran in 2019, somehow we still carved out time to be more than just an auction house. [...] Richard Beale, Sally Oliver and Poppy Farnese Grima paid a visit to the impressively bright students at Westminster School at the kind invitation of Helena Zara and Edmund Lewis to deliver a presentation on the relevance and themes of ancient coinage, and perhaps sowed a few seeds of interest for this fascinating field of study by distributing Roman bronzes to staff and pupils. Do you know of a school that might benefit from a visit by specialists in the field of classical history? 
One wonders where those coins were sourced (where they will be fifteen years from now), and whether the topics of ethics and the destruction of the archaeological record by artefact hunting were covered by these "specialists". Were Westminster School students encouraged to take up metal detecting?

According to their LinkedIn pages, Helena Zara is the School's "Secretary to the Deputy Head and Communications Coordinator" while Mr Lewis is a "Teacher of Classics".

Thursday 26 December 2019

Scheme Interactions: PAS on Social Media

Social media
According to the PAS website in its current form, the Portable Antiquities Scheme currently employs 59 members of staff, among them 42 Finds Liaison Officers and one outreach officer. What is interesting is that even though they are employed to do public outreach, the PAS website only gives you details of how to contact them, rather than reach their social media output. So I've done it for them. It seems only about half of them are using Twitter to reach a wider audience, some are using Facebook. I have listed here the ones I am aware of, and would be grateful for any information on ones I have missed.

1) Matthew Fittock Finds Liaison Officer for Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire [Twitter  @MatthewFittock]

2) Helena Costas Finds Liaison Officer - Berkshire [Twitter  @BerkshireFlo] [page no longer operating?]

3) Arwen Wood Finds Liaison Officer - Buckinghamshire  [Twitter @Bucks_FLO  BLOCKING the author of this blog]

4) Helen Fowler Finds Liaison Officer - Cambridgeshire (unkown)

5) Heather Beeton Finds Liaison Officer - Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside [Twitter: @FLOChe_GM_MSY] [account no longer exists]

6) Anna Tyacke Finds Liaison Officer - Cornwall [unknown]

7) Maria Kneafsey Finds Liaison Officer - Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire  [Twitter: @mariakneafsey]

8) Lucy Shipley Finds Liaison Officer - Devon and Somerset [unknown]

9) Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen, Finds Liaison Officer - Dorset [unknown]

10) Sophie Flynn Finds Liaison Officer - Essex [unknown]

11) Kurt Adams Finds Liaison Officer - Gloucestershire and Avon [unknown]

12) Katie Hinds Finds Liaison Officer - Hampshire [unknown]

13) Peter Reavill Finds Liaison Officer - Herefordshire and Shropshire [Twitter: PAS in the Marches @FLO_Marches  @PeterReavill ] [BLOCKING the author of this blog on one account, not yet on second]

14) Frank Basford Finds Liaison Officer - Isle of Wight [unknown]

15) Georgia Robinson Historic Environment and Finds Officer - Jersey [unknown]

16) Jo Ahmet Finds Liaison Officer - Kent [Twitter @Kent_Finds ] [another one  BLOCKING the author of this blog]

17) Ian Bass Finds Liaison Officer - Lancashire and Cumbria [unknown]

18) Alex Whitlock Finds Liaison Officer - Lancashire and Cumbria [unknown]

19) [vacant] Leicestershire and Rutland [was Wendy Scott: @exleicflo ] [account no longer active?]

20) Lisa Brundle Finds Liaison Officer - Lincolnshire [unknown]

21) Stuart Wyatt Finds Liaison Officer - London   [Twitter @stuartlondonmud]

22) Andrew Williams, Finds Liaison Assistant - Norfolk [unknown]

23) Garry Crace, Finds Liaison Assistant - Norfolk [Twitter @hirsuteface BLOCKING the author of this blog]

24) Helen Geake Finds Liaison Officer - Norfolk [Twitter: @HelenGeake]

25) Rebecca Griffiths Finds Liaison Officer - North and East Yorkshire [@Bexx_FLO, another one  BLOCKING the author of this blog]

26) Ellie Cox Finds Liaison Officer - Northamptonshire [unknown]

27) Martin Foreman Finds Liaison Officer - Northern Lincolnshire [unknown]

28) [vacant since October] Oxfordshire FLO Finds Liaison Officer - Oxfordshire Museums Resource Centre [was  @AnniB_OxonFLO and @ArchaeoAnni BLOCKING the author of the PACHI blog]

29) Laura Burnett Finds Liaison Officer - Somerset [Twitter @TokenxEffort]

30) Amy Downes Finds Liaison Officer - South and West Yorkshire [Twitter  @SWYOR_FLO] [Also: Graham Rawson PAS volunteer S and W Yorks @RawsonGraham] [BLOCKING the author of this blog]

31) Victoria Allnatt, Finds Liaison Officer - Staffordshire and West Midlands [Twitter 
 @FloMidlands]  [another one  BLOCKING the author of this blog]

32) Teresa Gilmore, Finds Liaison Officer - Staffordshire and West Midlands  @StaffsWMFLO [another one  BLOCKING the author of this blog] [facebook too ]

33) Riccardo Caravello Finds Liaison Officer - Suffolk [unknown]

34) Anna Booth Finds Liaison Officer - Suffolk [Twitter @AnnaBooth3] [account no longer active?]

35) Simon Maslin Finds Liaison Officer - Surrey [Twitter @spmaslin]

36) Carolina Rangel de Lima Finds Liaison Officer - Sussex [unkown]

37) Benjamin Westwood Finds Liaison Officer - The North East (County Durham, Darlington, and Teesside) [Twitter: @FLODurhamFLO] [another one  BLOCKING the author of this blog]

38) Andrew Agate Finds Liaison Officer - The North East (Newcastle and Northumberland) [Twitter @Northeast_FLO]

39) Mark Lodwick, Finds Liaison Officer - Wales [unknown]

40) Susie White Finds Liaison Officer - Wales NWales twitter: @NWales_FLO

41) [vacant] Finds Liaison Officer - Warwickshire and Worcestershire [was Angie Bolton @AngieMBolton]

42) Wil Partridge Finds Liaison Officer - Wiltshire   [@PasWiltshire] [account no longer exists] 

Central Unit team [Twitter: @findsorguk - BLOCKING ME] The Scheme currently employs 3 Central Unit staff members in the Department of Learning and National Partnerships, The British Museum: Michael Lewis Head of Scheme and Treasure, Elizabeth Coningsby Resources Manager, Claire Costin Resources Manager. In the same department is also based Lauren Speed, PASt Explorers Outreach Officer.

The Scheme currently employs 5 National Finds Advisers in various sites. Andrew Brown [@AIBArch], Kevin Leahy, Sam Moorhead [slideshare], John Naylor, Sally Worrell [@sworrell2 ].

The Treasure Administration team currently employs 5 in the Department of Learning and National Partnerships, The British Museum: Ian Richardson Senior Treasure Registrar [Twitter joint account: Treasure Registrars @TRegistrars], Gail Hammond Treasure Registrar, Ayla Karaman Treasure Registrar, Meghan King Treasure Registrar, Amy Marsh Treasure Registrar.

Twitter hashtags include:

@crap finds 'Fighting back against pretty Treasures! Celebrating mundane, mediocre, & ordinary artefacts dutifully recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme (and others)' (might be an anonymous FLO account)

Kent FLO Reacts to Helpful Comment from Member of his Public

David Knell reports that he was a trifle surprised to see the Kent FLO's response to a comment he had made on Twitter other day (PAS: Just nod meekly or you're blocked , Ancient Heritage blog 26th Dec 2019). This all relates to the Kent FLO insisting when I corrected him that there is such a construction "its' " [meaning "of it"] though admitting that despite the occupation he chose, he still has a 'specific learning difficulty' which is supposed to justify it all. David tells the story in his blog post. Now I think somebody employed as a public educator ought to be able to work out the difference, of if he's not sure look it up just a mouse-click way (as here Business Writing Talk, tips, and best picks for writers on the job. Its? It's? Or Its'?: note right at the top  "....its' is never correct"). So when Barford the copy-editor, Knell the copy editor tell him it's wrong and Petts assumes it's mistyping, perhaps the Kent FLO might consider that arrogance is not a suitable response:

Still, at least this one did not decide to get the police onto him! As David Knell pointed out:
Whoa! A trifle touchy? If the representative of an organisation seeking 'outreach' to the public is so averse even to someone politely trying to settle a minor point about grammar, I can only imagine what the reaction would be if another member of the public had the audacity to question his attribution of a find. Something like this perhaps?Kent FLO: Heard about this fantastic #AngloSaxon #Treasure?Fred Bloggs: I believe the artefact actually dates from the Roman period.Kent FLO: You're BLOCKED! You can't follow or see my Tweets any longer!

Man seeking 500 000 euros for Kouros head arrested

Man seeking 500 000 euros for Kouros head arrested December 26, 2019
A 49-year-old man has been arrested in Nemea, southern Greece, after he tried to sell the head of a kouros, a 6th Century statue of a male, for 500,000 euro. The Attica Security Police’s division of cultural heritage and antiquities said the larger-than-life head that recovered was 40cm high and that part of the neck remained. According to archaeologists, the head was made of limestone and was probably the work of an ancient rural workshop. Official sources reported that the man had hidden the head among a pile of rocks on a farm road while he tried to sell the head. He was entrapped and arrested by authorities for the illegal possession of the head. The Greek Ministry of Culture confirmed that the artefact fell under laws aimed at the protection of the country’s antiquities. The man appeared before a prosecutor in Corinth on Tuesday.

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Remember, this Christmas

As the Story angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him." (Matthew 2:13)
      The Egypt-Palestine borderlands 

      [to see fuller picture - click]                                                                                                   

'Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing, but of reflection' [Winston Churchill].

Without Freedom of Movement within the early Roman Empire, there would be no Gospels and the foundations of the 'Western European' culture which some timid, deluded folk are so desperately trying to cling on to by restricting it today would simply not have come into existence
Happy Christmas and Thank You to all of my Readers, especially those who find themselves on this day far away from home. May you all have joy, laughter, and the makings of wonderful memories... and, as this one ends, real hope for the coming years. 

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Not in it Fer th' Munny: But UK Detectorists 'Getting Screwed by the Valuers'

Brexiter, Tommy Robinson fan, 'white British male' and self-appointed 'Somerset's best detectorist' Sean O'Brien has this to say about the FLO's excited announcement of the donation of an Anglo-Saxon gold pendant to the local museum
MASKED POLECAT. SEAN O BRIEN @SeanObr007 · 29 lip W odpowiedzi do @Kent_Finds i @MaidstoneMuseum
Lovely jubbly find, this is what it's all about, plus the money if we don't get screwed by the valuers
But of course, if asked, metal detectorists will say they are "not in it for the money, but the love of history". Some of them are lying. How many?

Here is Mr O'Brien boasting about his 'penatration' ("damp soil conditions y'know") allowing some destructively irresponsible deep digging.

The whole account makes predictable but depressing reading (unless he's a foreign-paid troll).

Restore YouTube Channel iDetect to Content Owner Harry Moore after being Hacked.

Two years ago, Ken King started this petition to Google, Inc, Sundar Pichai CEO, Google Inc., Susan Wojcicki CEO, YouTube, Google: Restore YouTube Channel iDetect to Content Owner Harry Moore after being Hacked.
YouTube creator Harry Moore and his channel, iDetect, have been hacked. Someone was able to get access and deleted his Gmail account and YouTube account. At the time of the hack, iDetect had over 20,000 subscribers and was one of the fastest growing YouTube channels in the metal detecting niche on YouTube. The channel iDetect was very popular among fellow metal detectorists, coin collecting enthusiasts, and treasure hunters around the world. Harry Moore, the creator of iDetect, was very active in preserving local history in the U.K., saving artifacts from the Roman period and beyond. He also was involved and had campaigns raising money for cancer research. Harry was able to do what most of us dream about, making a living doing what we are most passionate about. His YouTube channel [on artefact hunting] was his main source of income. His subscribers and fans found inspiration, motivation, and entertainment from his videos and his absence from YouTube, posting regular videos, has been felt by all. After numerous attempts at trying to get someone at Google or YouTube to help him, including traveling to local offices in London, all he was told could be done is the standard recovery process in which they try to recover through old secondary phone numbers and email accounts. The problem is, and probably is with most people, that the old phone numbers, and email accounts used as secondary back up when the account was established many years ago, are no long active and he no longer has access to them. This needs to be escalated up the chain at Google and YouTube to someone who can make something happen. Please sign this petition for Google and YouTube to get involved at a higher level and help restore the channel, iDetect back to its former status. To Google and YouTube... it takes a tremendous amount of effort, dedication, and talent to obtain over 20,000 subscribers in this small niche on YouTube. It is understandable that you have a policy in place for account recovery, however, you would also have to understand that sometimes these secondary back up accounts go stale or fall out of access with the originator. Sure, it is our responsibility as account owners to keep our information updated, but you would think there should be something that could be done in unique situations such as this. Please do the right thing and restore the YouTube channel, iDetect, back to its original status and give access and control back to Harry Moore, its content creator. 
Although the account was reinstated, and reached a substantial number of new subscribers since then, the channel abruptly vanished a few weeks ago after serious questions were raised about the propriety of some of the content of the videos that - it seems from this - were being made to raise cash.

Our Heritage is Ours, Your Heritage is Ours Too

hat tip: elginism

Monday 23 December 2019

PAS Will Probably Ignore This Problematic Pendant Too

I've reported a number of dodgy-looking items being sold online to the PAS and Treasure Registrar over the past few months, and despite their claims to have the monitoring of EBay well in hand, their only reaction in each case was to tell me to deal with it myself as a private person living abroad. Most recently was the freshly surfaced Anglo-Saxon goldwork. There are one or two items like this almost every week, but statistics say the problem of illicit artefact sales does not happen 'much' and detectorists engaging in illicit activity are a "minority" - but that is only because sales like this are routinely ignored by the archaeological establishment in Britain. So, here is one of this week's that I spotted on EBay in my research on the antiquities market. PASt experience tells me that I'd just get fobbed off reporting it to the portable antiquities folk again, so I feel rather demotivated and don't think I'll bother.  Somebody else can tell the PAS jobsworths if they want, but it's a waste of time, I reckon. But I am 100% certain that if we were metal detectorists wanting to alert them to a find that we'd hoiked, they'd be falling over themselves fawning and wanting to find out all about it and get their hands on it.

So, here, for now, soon to be lost to a private collection is a 'Roman Silver Denarius Coin Pendant – Possibly an Anglo-Saxon Creation Post Roman' being sold by Business Seller ancientpasts (211 ) Simon Brown, Yaxley near Peterborough, United Kingdom [seller's full address is in sales offer]. He has (don't they all?) 100% Positive feedback. The price is GBP 285.00 - Approximately US $371.88 [Shipping:GBP 6.50 (approx. US $8.48) Royal Mail International Standard. No mention of an export licence.]
Description Date: Circa: 5th – 6th Century AD:
Size: diametre [sic] at 1.6 cm: height to retention loop 2.2 cm: weight at 3.34 grams:
An interesting ancient Roman Denarius coin pendant, which I suspect may be post Roman and perhaps, Anglo-Saxon in creation date: The migration tribes [sic] of Northern Europe were fond of using old Roman coins in this way and the retention loop is similar in design style to others of this period: The item was detected in North-Norfolk in the early 2000’s [sic]: It is thought that some Romano / Iceni may have moved west into the Fens to avoid the Angles, who were migrating across the North Sea from Angeln [modern Schleswig] and settling what would become East Anglia:
Condition: Very fine: unrecognizable Emperor bust facing left – possible soldier advancing to the reverse: Dark grey to silver patination oxide tones: Clasp and retention complete - could be worn today:
Note the Victorian 'settlement of the English' narrativisation, so typical of the antiquities market. There are 29 silver pendants from Norfolk in the PAS database, and this is not among them. A silver object, even if part of it was a coin, found by an artefact hunter in Norfolk in the early 2000s should have been reported under the 1996 Treasure Act. If it was not reported (and what about the landowner?), then the finder and first holder had acquired it illegally and did not have legal title to it. In that case, that title cannot have been legally obtained by successive holders, nor by the dealer who currently has it in their stock. As a silver artefact more than 300 years old, found after the implementation of the Treasure Act, this item is (potential) Treasure, and illegally appropriated. Unless he can provide documentation to the contrary, Simon Brown would have a hard time explaining how he has legal title to an undeclared piece of Treasure found on British soil. But then, nobody is going to ask him, are they? To do so would risk spoiling the statistics.

That is, of course if it is a real antiquity. Have a look at that loop and the toolmarks on it. Those grooves on it for example, and the way the silver strip is bent. What do those marks come from? Then look at the rough edges of the rivets, why are they like that (and not worn)? Where is there any trace of wear on the loop from use? From the photos offered, this object looks as it would if freshly-made and never worn. The coin is badly worn on both sides, the reverse particularly, and the die axis of the obverse and reverse are at an angle to each other. But the coin is mounted in such a way that neither side is 'up' - which is not how the majority of antique coin pendants look. What evidence is there that this object actually was dug up in the form we see now?  The coin is a piece of numismatic scrap, poorly legible, hardly collectable. But who is to say that some metal detectorist bloke in a shed adding some grooves and two holes to a bit of scrap silver strip (about an hour and a half work at most) could not transform an unsaleable numismat into a 'pendant' that some dealer or collector will buy?  Is that what Simon Brown has in his stock? The BM would probably be able to tell him what they think, but will they? But here we have a piece of material that is either one thing or another, and as such contaminating the archaeological record with information that may be entirely false. This is the problem with all forms of 'bazaar archaeology'.

As always, caveat emptor.

Investigating Culture Crime in Scotland

Or are they all only
 beach detectorists?
In Scotland, the authorities are reportedly 'stepping up the pressure on heritage crime', writes Alison Campsie ('Meet the team hunting those who would steal Scotland’s history' The Scotsman 23rd December 2019). The article however largely concentrates on the issue of damage done to scheduled monuments
In 2019, around 100 cases of heritage crime were under investigation by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and police. In the five years before, there were a total of 40 cases [...] Inspector Alan Dron is the chair of the Scottish Heritage Crime Group, which was set up in April to crack down on offences against Scotland’s oldest and most important buildings and landmarks. With 8,000 scheduled monuments to protect, 47,000 listed buildings and 47 protected shipwrecks under his watch, the task is a considerable one. [...] HES and Treasure Trove, which manages finds of artefacts of historic value, are among those who sit on the heritage crime group, which shares information and investigatory updates about offences.[...] Illegal metal detecting [...] had also come to the attention of the heritage crime desk [...] Theft of cultural artefacts are more rare, Inspector Dron said, with some objects heading into private collections and others being lined up for a sale on the black market.
The problem is that Sam Hardy's work suggests there are 1,447+ detectorists in Scotland, yet according to the last report (here)  less than 200 items or groups of items were reported to the TTU as the law requires. That corresponds to one in seven finding one reportable (collectable) item per year, the other six apparently cheerfully brave the Scottish weather week in and week out and take a perverse pleasure in finding nothing but canslaw, modern bottle caps and ringpulls.  Either we have to accept that Scottish metal detectorists are a bit 'weak in the heed', or there are a lot of them finding almost as much as their metal detecting fellows south of the border and are simply keeping it for themselves. Are those acting illegally by not reporting finds being actively investigated by the Scottish Heritage Crime Group? How?

"No Skills Required", Jus' say they "Done Well" and You'll be OK

Interview with FLO (KMTV)
Kent FLO Jo Ahmet wrote on PAS social media a fluffy post about an artefact hunter and landowner who had donated an Anglo-Saxon gold pendant to the local museum:
Heard about this fantastic #AngloSaxon #Treasure #Donation to @MaidstoneMuseum ? Before It goes on display, get a sneak peak now and hear the finder talk about its' discovery. video/maidstone-museum receives find more info below: database record 917780 #ResponsibleDetecting #Thanks
This raises a number of issues - like the damaging one of muddling artefact hunting/collecting (whether "responsible" or not) with the Treasure Act. I was particularly annoyed by the fluffiness because this is right next to the Hollingbourne site where (a) Kent FLO reportedly told the artefact hunters "you done well" when quite clearly what they themselves put on social media shows they should have had the book thrown at them. Not only did this new find come from just down the road from Hollingbourne, but the puff video actually opens with a shot of the showcase with the objects concerned in it...

And how annoying it is to see that at last Kent's archaeologists are no longer in denial that this was so obviously a grave the artefact hunters dug right into (see earlier posts on this on this blog). It is a shame they could not bring themselves to criticise the metal detecting group that did this by admitting this right away. We may ask why there was zero media coverage of the inquest itself, or the reward paid out to the barrow diggers. But I could not be bothered to comment on Twitter, fed up as I am with Hollingbourne being swept under the carpet.

But coming straight from discussions in English with my Polish students, I could not let that lexical curiosity "its' discovery" pass without a bit of ribbing: " Eh? Does spending too much time with barely literate detectorists erode apostrophe awareness?". Readers of their forums will have observed that many metal detectorists consider that an apostrophe makes a plural (grocer's apostrophe: "apple's"), confuse "there' with "their", write "could of" instead of "could have", and so on. In general, archaeologists with higher education (as the FLO should be) would not be confusing them. That was my assumption. Durham (Durham again! It's often Durham, isn't it?) professor, David Petts reckons however that I need a lesson in political correctness:
I have no problem with you opposing metal detecting - but what a nasty unpleasant comment that was - reeking of snobbery - have you never made a typo?
Unfortunately, the FLO decided to join in and dispel all doubts:
Kent FLO  @Kent_Finds · 1 g.Thank you David. Also, for once despite my specific learning difficulty I believe ” its’ “, in this context is correct. Being as the sentence is possessive....”it is discovery” is not what I had intended to say
Oops. [In this context, as any Polish student of mine would tell the Kent archaeologist, "specific learning difficulty" or no, "its' " is 100% not correct. But that is by the by.]

In answer to Professor Petts, I tweeted the following:
I have made many typos, but as you see, the FLO says it is not a typo. It is just a mistake. The point is, isn't it, if we are going to use "metal detectorists" as"citizen archaeologists/-ogy", then the ability to observe context and formulate the reports of those observations/ in an articulate and accurate manner is important. The point that is skipped by all those "snobbery" comments is that a major part of the MD community in the UK has very clear literacy and comprehension issues. That is not snobbery, that is a fact we need to face/ in formulating any policy about how we exploit the archaeological record. Or do you think standards don't actually matter any more? "Anything goes" when it comes to engagement with artefact hunting and artefact hunters/collectors? link
This is something I believe in very firmly, if archaeology has to have any value, "anything goes" is not permissible, standards need to be upheld. But this point applies not just to the artefact hunters we work with, but to the archaeologists who should be setting and maintaining standards in any work they do that purports to be archaeology. It was therefore disappointing to follow the other link Mr Ahmet gave in that tweet that started it all. This is the PAS database, funded by public money to create a permanent accurate and reliable record of archaeological finds, with my editor's hat on:
Description: The pendant is ovoid and compromises a Roman intaglio set within an early medieval gold frame. The intaglio is a deep orange in colour and is engraved with two helmeted figures standing side-by-side, the figure on the right appearing to wear female dress and the figure on the right in male dress. Both appear to hold spears before them, and there may be an upright shield on the floor between them. The intaglio is set within a composite gold frame [...] The intaglio's orange colour suggests that it may be made from carnelian. After examining the object The Reverend Doctor Martin Henig comments that the intalgio represents the Godess Minerva and the God Mars, a very rare combination and one that has yet to be found in publication. Conclusion: The object fulfils the Treasure Act (1996) in that it is more than 300 years old and has a precious metal content exceeding 10%.
There are obvious problems here. I do not know what Professor Pett would do if a Durham student whose undergraduate thesis of PhD he was supervising produced a text looking like that. Maybe he'd fear it might be regarded as "snobbery" if he sent it back for the candidate to revise and put in proper English.  Would he recommend that student when they finish their studies at Durham to take up a job requiring outreaching to the pubic and making permanent public records through the medium of the written word?  Or would he recommend the student who can actually spell?

PS coming back to what he said, I do not "oppose metal detecting". I oppose current policies and unhelpful legislation on Collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record of all kinds, and in particular, archaeologists who refuse to look at the issue more holistically and merely use political correctness as a bolster and a means to avoid looking at the issues more deeply and (ooo-errr!) trying to find other ways to do something about it.

Fourth Eye/Leominster Hoard Sentence Today

Paul Wells, a smoker (the Sun)
Paul Wells, 60, of Newport Road, Rumney, Cardiff was found guilty of conspiracy to conceal criminal property and will be sentenced on 23 December, 2019. His sentencing was delayed by ill health, here he is outside the court with a fag in his hand.

Sunday 22 December 2019

The Sands of Time: Sue McGovern-Huffmann and the Fading Wild Apricots, Five years On.

Mission Statement: " To advance the responsible
and legal trading and collecting of ancient and ethnographic art"

In August 2014, Washington dealer Sue McGovern-Huffmann (Sands of Time Ancient Art)  and her pals started up the ambitiously-named Association of Dealers and Collectors of Ancient and Ethnographic Art (ADCAEA), an organization 'dedicated to providing resources, education, networking and support to advance the responsible and legal trading and collecting of ancient and ethnographic art'. Leaving aside the question of whether there is such a thing (or rather whether all antiquities are 'art'),  there are other problems with this organisation that have been covered over the years in this blog.  It seems that five years on, the 'officers' [sic] still are: Sue McGovern-Huffman, Sands of Time Ancient Art (President), Richard Banks, Collector (Vice President), Peter Tompa, Bailey and Ehrenberg PLLC (Secretary), Joseph Lewis II, Collector (Treasurer) and 'Randy' Hixenbaugh, Hixenbaugh Ancient Art (Board Member). Most of these folk have been figured in the pages of this blog over the years, rarely flatteringly.

A clutter of antiquity: Interior of
Sands of Time Antiquities, Georgetown, DC
 (Curator's Eye Marketing Solutions
Membership in the Association 'is open to any person who is interested in the responsible collecting or study of ancient and/or ethnographic art' who is willing to pay the annual fees for membership (at Student, Collector, Friend, Dealer, Patron or Corporate/Institutions level). It is not known how much money was raised for this group by such means, but one wonders what fee-paying members have got for their money in the past three years, when the website suggests this organisation has been moribund and failing to report any progress at all in fulfilling its six alleged 'objectives'.

There is a 'Code of Conduct' for members, but no statistics are available for how numerous that 'membership' actually is these days. In any case, the fact that two dealers on the ADCAEA board and two dealer-members (Sands of Time, Hixenbaugh, Ancient Resources and Art for Eternity) seem to have recently shifted freshly-surfaced Isin foundation cones indicates that this 'code' is in fact not worth the paper it is printed on.

Entries in the blog end two years ago in July 2017 with two posts on opposing US attempts to regulate the illegal import of artefacts into the country, and a third anonymous one on behalf of the American Committee for Cultural Policy (CCP) [no policy-makers, but a misnamed antiquities dealers' interest group]. That hardly speaks for a willingness of the ADCAEA as a wannabe spokesbody for all 'dealers and collectors of ancient and ethnographic art' to actually be involved in  advancing their 'responsible and legal trading'.

In Polish we would say „Kończ waść, wstydu oszczędź” - end this now, save the embarrassment. Pathetic. 

EBay Cunies and Paps from Bavaria [UPDATED]

Just finishing on eBay soon, 'Nice interesting old cuneiform terrekota tablet with writting about 90x50 mm from old german Collection please see pictures'. Seller 'canece(601 points),item location: Bavaria, Germany Ships to: Worldwide. Sold for GBP 51.00 [ Approximately US $66.55] 14 bids,  Dec 22, 2019 , 7:09PM (Pacific time). The same seller also has a (hollow) 'terracotta foundation cone' [Nice interesting old cuneiform terrekota tablet with writting high about 85 mmGBP 26.00  11 bids ] and a 'Nice interesting old terrekota fertility female idol high about 180 mm' (sold for GBP 21.00 Approximately US $27.40 - 7 bids ). Probably all three buyers are congratulating themselves now that they got a real genuine piece of the past for their collection at such a 'reasonable price'.

The foundation cone should not be hollow, and excavated examples have different proportions, the  inscription rarely goes to the end and I cannot see any that have inscriptions that terminate with an asterix... I am intrigued that although this is not a Gudea of Lagash cone (discussed earlier by me), the 'inscription' looks as if it might be inspired by this view of one... The rather generously-proportioned 'idol' looks rather unconvincing to me. It is perhaps trying to be an Indus valley (or 'Syro-Hittite') one, but does not quite make it as a pastiche.  I do not read cuneiform, although the signs of the tablet are rather deeply impressed, it looks fairly convincing to my lay eye. But what puts me on guard is that the fabric and surface deterioration looks exactly like that of the 'cone'. Since I do not think that cone is a genuine antiquity, that rather makes me think 'caveat emptor'.

Just as those auctions were ending the seller put up a 'Nice interesting old papyrus with coptic writting about 140x100 mm' [from old german Collection please see pictures]. It is supposed to be a single leaf from a codex, with a piece of decoration and a coloured initial heading the text on the recto . Well, I am looking at the pictures and the grainy writing material looks more like banana-leaf to me, and the script is wobbly. The margins are unmatched on the verso and recto, and the 'stitching' is not very convincing as the effect of real bookbinding. The fore-edge of the sheet is worn and frayed, but the corners not. I can't read the text, but I am not convinced by this at all. [UPDATE Roberta Mazza can read this stuff and describes it as 'non-sense cheap papyrus fake on sale again', so I feel vindicated in saying its another 'buy the book first before the antiquity' case here too. Caveat emptor].

EBay Cunie from US [Updated]

From the other side of the Atlantic, thousands of kilometres away from ancient Mesopotamia Sue McGovern-Huffman (Sands of Time/ ADCCAEA - Association of Dealers and Collectors of Ancient and Ethnographic Art) a dealer from Washington DC is flogging off a decontextualised bit of archaeological site ('A large Babylonian cuneiform tablet, time of Hammurabi, ca. 1810 – 1750 BCE') with a Buy it Now price of US $12,000.00. At once we get the sledge-hammer narrativisation in the very name 'TIME OF HAMMURABI', but the actual evidence for that dating is not anywhere apparent in the seller's description. I guess the names of other rulers of the Amorite dynasty of Babylon (such as Sin-Muballit or Samsu-iluna) don't really convey the same trophy status. But there are problems with this (see below). Here is the seller's description:
From the collection of Edgar J. Banks [...] Condition: Minor chip on one corner and some lower corner erosion, otherwise intact, and in excellent condition overall. The collection number "7" painted on one side. A beautiful example. Presented on a museum quality custom mount.
Dimensions: Length: 2 1/2 inch (6.35 cm), Width: 2 inches (5 cm)
Provenance: Collection of Edger J. Banks, acquired by Mr. and Mrs. John E. Snyder in 1925. Donated to the Hershey Public Library and deaccessioned in 2018. This object is accompanied by a copy of the sales receipt and translations from Edgar J. Banks, dated June 2, 1925.
Edgar J. Banks was born May 23, 1866, in Sunderland, Massachusetts. He began his career as an American consul in Bagdad, Turkey, in 1897 and bought hundreds of cuneiform tablets on the market in the closing days of the Ottoman Empire, reselling them in small batches to museums, libraries, universities, and theological seminaries, several in Utah and the American Southwest and across the United States. [...] [some biographical details of Banks to pad out the entry] Mr. Banks died on May 5, 1945.

Ms McGover-Huffmann has a sales receipt (from the sale of Banks to the Snyders, or the Library to her?) The Hershey Public Library is in Hershey Pennsylvania (of chocolate fame) and the Snyder family seems in some way connected with the firm too. Ms Huffmann reproduces the sales spiel that Banks concocted to sell the item (presumably received by Mr. and Mrs. John E. Snyder in 1925). This reads:
"Large pottery cuneiform tablet, found at Senkereh, the ruin of the Biblical city of Ellasar mentioned in Genesis 14:1. This is a crude written document consisting chiefly of numerals and appears to be a memorandum of some merchant. It is of sun-dried clay and it comes from the time of Hammurabi, King of Babylon shortly before 2000 B.C. This king is called Amraphel in the Old Testament, and a contemporary for the Biblical Abraham. It is of special interest, for it comes from the exact time when Abraham is supposed to have lived and shows the nature of the business documents at that time. Extensive cuneiform writing on all sides."
In order to establish her own 'credentials', Ms McGovern-Huffman adds some details of her own, but compiled directly from Wikipedia, about the Biblical Amraphel king of Shinar. Its a shame she did not read to the end of that text where she;'d see that there is little evidence for the association, or whether Amraphel was an historical figure at all. But handling antiquities breeds superficiality. In addition, there is really no evidence at all that is accepted nowadays that would place Abraham and other Patriarchs in the beginning of the second millennium BC (the evidence rather suggests the setting of the stories would be in the first millennium BC, but that is by-the-by), so 'the exact time when Abraham is supposed to have lived " is merely 1920s' dealer's cant. Likewise Banks is unclear (and Ms McGovern-Huffmann does not elucidate) whether the state of the object today is 'pottery' or merely sun-dried clay.

None of the various chronologies accepted today would place Hammurabi 'shortly before 2000 B.C.' (see here). So how is this item ("crude written document consisting chiefly of numerals") dated at all to ca. 1810 – 1750 by McGovern-Huffman? These are Hammurabi's middle chronology dates (birth, not beginning of rule, to death).

But then, Banks (if the unsigned typecscript was created by him) says the object was found 'at Senkereh, the ruin of the Biblical city of Ellasar'. Interestingl,y Ms McGovern-Huffmann does not hasten to tell the reader that this tell is better known today as Larsa. Of course Larsa has some rather unfortunate connotations on today's antiquities market, but this one has paperwork (and price to reflect that).  Larsa was excavated by William Loftus in 1850 also briefly examined by Walter Andrae in 1903. The site was inspected by Edgar Banks in 1905 (Banks, E.J. "Senkereh, the Ruins of Ancient Larsa", The Biblical World, 25 (1905), no. 5, pp. 389-392). He found that widespread looting by the local population was occurring there. The problem is that if Larsa was a minor site after the defeat of Rim-Sin I (1822 BC to 1763 BC - middle chronology) why is this tablet dated to precisely that period?

Update 9th Sept 2020
This tablet is still on sale, and has recently been discussed on Twitter by those who know more about cunies than I and it has unanimously been stated that this is a Neo-Babylonian tablet, which would make it around about 626 BC–539 BC (ish). So that means some 1400 years or so later than the date the sales spiel gives it. It is also the period when Larsa fell to Nebuchadnezzar II (the Biblical one). Banks sold this sixteen years after he'd been appointed a professor of Oriental languages and archaeology at the University of Toledo. So one would expect him to know the difference. Did the Snyders buy more than one tablet in the 1920s, including from Banks, among them one "from the time of Abraham" and one "from the time of Nebachudnezzar II" and the papers became muddled up through poor custodianship? In which case, these papers are not in any secure way associated with the item Ms McGovern-Huffmann is trying to sell, but another item entirely. Which is a shame as the rather high price she places on this lump of clay is predicated on the assumption that these papers belong to this object.

Isin Foundation Cone on EBay and its Background

"Ishme-Dagan, the strong warrior, 
the king of Isin, the king of the four 
quarters of the world, when he, Nippur,
 beloved city of Enlil, completely built, 
his troops in military service working around Isin, 
built these walls: Ishme-Dagan thanks Enlil 
and (rules) with the strength of his name."

"Ishme-Dagan, mighty man,  King of Isin,
King of the Four Quarters (of the world) 

 he exempted the tax of Nippur, the city beloved
by Enlil and took its populace away from forced labor,
 he built the wall of Isin, naming it "Ishme-Dagan,
with Enlil, the might of the great god

Ishme-Dagan, mighty man, king of Isin,
 king of the four quarters (of the world), when he cancelled
the tribute obligations of Nippur, the city beloved by Enlil,
and excused its men from military service,
he built the great wall of Isin. The name of that wall is 

"By the grace of Enlil Ishme-Dagan is powerful".

Note the different renderings of what is the same inscription on dealers' sites.

Here's a bold one. Seller 'Hotan' from Aliso Viejo, California, United States is offering you, just a mouse click away a 'Translated and Authenticated Sumerian Cunieform (sic) Foundation Cone, 1953 BC W/ Paperwk'. Price: US $1,250.00 Buy It Now [ Shipping: $55.13 International Priority Shipping via the Global Shipping Program]
A very rare authenticated and translated Sumerian Clay Cuneiform Foundation Cone for the King of Isin, 1953 BC, commemorative, foundation cone of fired clay with dedication Sumerian text for the ruler Ishme-Dagan , ruler of the state of Isin (modern Ishan al-Bahriyat, Al-Qādisiyyah Governate, Iraq) a city of lower Mesopotamia. The inscription records the construction of the Great Wall of Isin, in honour of Enlil, the city god, after exempting the citizens from paying the taxes of Nippur and renaming the city for himself. The translation will be provided to the buyer. Comes with professional translation as well as high end gallery authentication paperwork. I personally bought this over a decade ago from an auction house owners personal collection, then sent it off for translation from a professional and then had it authenticated by one of the most high end and respected galleries who deals in Egyptian and middle eastern antiquities. I’ve taken pictures with flash and without so you can best judge by yourself but as stated by the experts on the COA the condition is listed as intact and in excellent condition overall with beautifully cut text. All information will be provided to buyer. Shipped with USPS Priority Mail.
'sent it off for translation from a professional', name?

'authenticated by one of the most high end and respected galleries' name?

Without those names, those adjectives and implied assurances are utterly meaningless.

So this "paperwork" is actually just a common or garden (anonymous) gallery COA - Code of Authenticity. The latter are two-a-penny and mostly totally worthless. So the collecting history goes back to "an [unnamed] auction house owner[']s personal collection", yeah? And there's no sales documentation mentioned. And how did it leave Iraq?

Isin being looted 
Isin is of course one of the sites in southern Iraq being heavily looted in the 1990s and then again in and after the US-led invasion in 2003. Both of these looting events and the accompanying smuggling happened 'more than a decade ago'.

But this item is part of a pattern.

Here, from Washinton DC's 'Sands of Time Ancient Art' (September 21, 2019) is another Ishme-Dagan cone from Isin with a similar cuneiform text (A Sumerian Foundation cone for Ishme-Dagan, King of Isin, circa 1953 BCE) and could-not-care-less collecting history "Provenance: M. G. private collection, Maryland, acquired from the NY trade in 2001" (contd).

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