Friday 4 January 2019

Collection-Driven Exploitation of the European Archaeological Record in Reality, not Ideology

The same the world over. Italian 'metal detectorists' having (allegedly) "an incredibly positive effect " as "a means of public engagement with archaeology" as a Glasgow researcher insists and showing the archaeological effects on our knowledge of the archaeology of the area around a rock shelter by deeply digging random ragged holes into the shallow soil (and no doubt plotting them and writing them up properly). I'm going to assume that these guys are in the parts of the mountains where no permit is required,  (see here for a brief summary) or they have a permit. It's not the legality that is at issue here, its what they are doing to the archaeological record - the one that extends outside their holes where they've extracted random diagnostic objects and pocketed them. Would putting a PAS up there in the mountains in any way prevent such damage occurring?

I would like to invite Alison Douglas and Francesca Benetti to the comments section below. How can they (or anyone else) say this sort of thing, carried out by tens of thousands of people anywhere where they can get onto an archaeological site that will be 'productive' of collectables, is any kind of "participation' in archaeology", let alone ascribe to it "an incredibly positive effect". It is an exploitative acquisitive activity that mines the archaeological resource for selfish and extempore ends, producing little but loose decontextualised objects and damaging it as a source of information about the past. This is now happening on a huge scale. Archaeologists encouraging that I think, really do have some explaining to do. Can they? We will see. ‏

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