Monday, 29 April 2019

Mega-Bonkers from Bloomsbury

In the 2019 Treasure act review:

Section J Rewards (Following Paragraph 81 E/W Code, Paragraph 70 NI Code)
74. Paragraph 81 of the E/W Code and Paragraph 70 of the NI Code states that archaeologists and those engaged on an archaeological excavationon or investigation are not eligible for a reward when a find is declared treasure and acquired by a museum. The Codes state that where there is any doubt the TVC decide when a finder is an archaeologist or a person engaged on an archaeological excavation or investigaon.
Why? The UK has a Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, let them be the arbiter in cases where there are any doubts, on the basis of the project documentation (this would also provide a check on the professional standards of Treasure-mitigation investigations).
75. That doubt can arise where a finder takes part in archaeological activity following their find, as encouraged in the E/W Code. A finder would not be eligible for a reward on any further finds that they made during that activity. We foresee that this could lead to misunderstandings and undermine good relations between finders and archaeologists. 
Really? Surely that's what 'embedding metal detecting in professional practice' is all about.

76. In order to avoid misunderstanding we consider that it would be helpful to have definions of an archaeologist and of those engaged in archaeological excavaon or invesgaon in the Codes. This would mean that there would be clear guidance available to finders, archaeologists, museums and the TVC. 
Or whoever is doing that assessment, I would argue that it should not be the TVC, whose expertise should be focussed on one area only.

77. We propose to add the following definitions, provided by the British Museum, to the Code at the present paragraph 81 and 70. We believe that they would provide clarity and help to avoid any misunderstanding about the eligibility for a reward of those involved in archaeological activity.
● Archaeologist: A professional, student, volunteer or amateur engaged on a planned study of the landscape where the primary goal is to understand past activity through an assessment of all traces of human activity
● Archaeological excavation or investigation: A planned study of the landscape that aims to record all traces of human activity thereon. It can be conducted by professional units, educational institutions or socities
Question 13 Do you consider that the proposed definitions of archaeologist and archaeological excavation or investigation are accurate?
Question 14 Do you see any disadvantages in having these definitions in the Code? 
Oh wow...  No, these are neither accurate definitions of 'an archaeologist', and are next to no use in the particular situation described here. So, yeah, pretty disadvantageous adding junk definitions to the Code. Who writes this nonsense?

Why this is important is not so long ago, the British Museum was referring to all 'finders' as 'citizen archaeologists' - why? because they dig up old stuff, trying to understand past activity in a landscape  through digging up old things. What is meant here by "assessment"? What is meant here, in terms of a small trial trench dug around a hoard findspot of "all traces of human activity" (again, a FINDS-based definition. A metal detectorist sweeping a test pit an spoil heaps is not doing any "assessment", that's the task of the trench supervisor and director. Neither is a trial pit around a hoard any kind of 'study of the landscape that aims to record all traces of human activity thereon'. The Staffordshie hoard excavation for example, was a pretty feeble attempt to understand that landscape.  And what about situations like Lenborough where an archaeologist 'directed' what happened to that hoard site, but the hole dug (with a paint stripper and carrier bag) cannot be called archaeiology. Did the arkie share the Treasure reward with the tekkies?

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