Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Britain's Prehistory: Anything Goes, it seems, on the Portable Antiquities Market

Ebay seller "design369 (3874 Feedback score: 3874)" location: Suffolk, United Kingdom has seen, it seems, the market for selling common or garden rocks by calling them artefacts. Look at this 'PREHISTORIC paleolithic neolithic spearhead axe arrowhead rock art picture gift'. A gift at  £34.99 Buy it now

Well, it is true that the stones are almost certainly of prehistoric (geological time) origin, but the rest? Paleolithic (when it is not a lithic of any kind)? Neolithic (when it is not a lithic of any kind)? Spearhead (when it is not a lithic of any kind, which one is the 'spearhead')? Axe (when it is not a lithic of any kind, which one is the 'axe')? Arrowhead (when it is not a lithic of any kind, which one is the 'arrowhead')? Rock art (it's five rocks stuck in a picture frame is that 'art')? Picture (it's five rocks stuck in a picture frame is that a 'picture')? Gift (yeah, I would say that these are pretty poisonous lies, playing on the customer's ignorance). For the record, the pictured box does not to this archaeologist's eye contain 'three arrowheads', one 'spearhead' or one 'polished axe fragment'. It contains five stones (IS the red one 'flint'?)

The condition statement is “Good condition all displayed in a small Black framed wooden box” and the seller proffers " Colour: white grey red orange, Provenance: Ownership History Available, Material: flint, Type: Spears.

Description A stunning set of 5 flint artifacts- 3 arrowheads, spearhead, 1 polished axe fragment. These are all neolithic/paleolithic stone tools. I have chosen them for their decorative value and have arranged them all in a 3d wooden box. These were all found whilst field walking around Suffolk. Please see additional pictures to gain a closer look at the detail. Very interesting and amazing artifacts given their age. They can all be removed and stuck in again. They make great unusual rare and original gifts! If for some reason you are not happy with your purchase then I accept a no quibble refund policy for the item on receipt of undamaged item. [...] PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not leave negative/neutral feedback before contacting me FIRST. I will ALWAYS give a refund whatever the reason for return. [...] In the unlikely event that the description was inaccurate or the item was found to be faulty. Then I will pay for the return postage,and give a full refund when the item is returned.
So that way he can impudently sell utter crap and if the buyer finds out within the 14 days he offers he will get no negative feedback to warn other potential buyers. This is how eBay works so all sorts of crooked dealings go on and the sellers involved keep a clean record and carry on selling, and eBay carries on getting money from their sales.

Meanwhile, EBay tempts citizen wannabe 'prehistorians' "have one to sell? Sell it yourself". As long as the punters are kept ignorant about what prehistoric artefacts look like, the money will keep rolling in... and more and more people will be buying their own distorted view of prehistory. Unless British archaeologists get off their complacent backsides and start doing some proper outreach. Can they do that? FLOs, what are you doing about this?
Hat tip Hougenai

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