Saturday 31 August 2019

It's Not Working, Dr Fischer

Paul Harper, 'British museum returns Babylon treasure looted from Iraq after US invasion', Metro Friday 30 Aug 2019
The British Museum will hand the tablets back to the Iraq National Museum. Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said: ‘We are absolutely committed to the fight against illicit trade and damage to cultural heritage. ‘This is an issue which concerns us all. I am delighted that we are able to assist in the return of these important objects to Iraq.’ [...] The British Museum displays extremely valuable looted treasures.  
It is not the British Museum that is handing these objects back, but HM government, the BM is just a box where they are stored. The BM has done nothing much about illicit trade of objects on the British antiquities market, they once made a pretence at monitoring EBay for illegally-handled treasure items from the UK, but that today is nothing more than an old news item, hundreds of dodgy objects go through eBay with no reaction from them (I reported some items a few months ago, the PAS/BM staff told me in effect to buzz off and chase it up myself with the local police station of the home of the seller in the UK - letters on file if you doubt that). Likewise the PAS actively promotes artefact hunting as some form of  white-guys' "citizen archaeology". It's just the brown skinned folk in places like Iraq they will criticise.  Likewise their cunies and sculptures in that big long gallery in the BM were dug up by white guys and taken away from the brown guys when they could damage the cultural heritage of archaeological sites all over the Middle East, and now their own self-proclaimed 'empowerment' has been taken away, they are jealously making sure nobody else can try to reap the same benefits.

Friday 30 August 2019

Friday Retrospect: The Ethical Collector


'The Ethical collector' (First published Monday, 11 August 2008)

Avoiding 'dodgy antiquities', human
remains sold as 'ancient art'
The hobby of collecting portable antiquities is attracting more and more negative attention in the world's media, as well it might, certain elements within the antiquity trade and those who financially support them by buying matrial no-questions-asked are causing immense erosion of the archaeological record. Those who have the most to lose, including dealers who do not wish their source of supply questioned too deeply, fight vehemently to maintain the status quo. They try by all means to make this a struggle about "ownership rights" rather than conservation. Any attempt to criticise the current situation usually results in the questioner being labelled an "extremist", or "radical" who can only be out (really) "to ban collecting". Hence the aggressive posturing of the collecting lobby that characterises this debate in archaeology to an extent seen in no other.

Are all collectors however oblivious to such criticism as the battle-hardened combatants of what is being increasing portrayed by the diehard nay-sayers as a “war” over personal rights? Are there no collectors who are able to see that there is some, maybe a lot, of justification for the concerns that are expressed by conservationists and others about the current status quo in the portable antiquities trade and the milieu of collecting?

Presumably those ethical and responsible collectors who do their utmost to acquire only legitimately-sourced material and exclude any of unknown or dubious origin from their collections, must feel disgruntled that they are being tarred with the same brush as their less scrupulous fellows all over the world who – nobody can doubt, and whether they admit it or not - are the consumers of increasing quantities of looted and smuggled portable antiquities.

A while ago it became fashionable in collecting circles to persuade the world that the Good Collector has a beneficial influence, an effort still going on in collecting advocacy circles today. There is not a collector of portable antiquities in the world who cannot trot out half a dozen 'reasons' why portable antiquity collecting is a good thing for history, culture, international well-being, clothing the poor, feeding the hungry, bringing relief to the downtrodden. The definition of the type of good collector being referred to by R.J. McIntosh; T. Togola and S.K. McIntosh 1995 seems to have been forgotten. Troubled by the loss of context in the case of many of the items coming onto the market these authors insisted among other things that

the Good Collector casts a jaded eye upon those dealers who insist that their reputation take the place of details of provenance.
This is because dealers are habitually secretive about where the objects they sell actually came from and how they got into their hands. they have, it is true, their codes of practice (sometimes even called codes of ethics), but many of them avoid using wording which actually would restrain the dealer from very much at all. See David Gill's discussion of that of the Ancient Coin Collectors' Guild for an example of the type of problem. The reputation of a dealer in any case in the antiquity buying world is usually built on a dealer's reputation not to sell fakes, rather than ability to obtain legally provenanced artefacts and provide watertight documentation of that fact.

It is therefore the dealers who are most concerned for there to be no move towards an establishment of more a definition of what would constitute ethical collecting (where obviously the provenance and proveninience of the traded items is of paramount concern). As we have seen time and time again, it is often the dealers who set the agenda, define what the collector can and cannot buy, what they can and cannot expect and what they can and cannot believe about their relationship with the archaeological record. To a large extent it is the pressure of the dealers' lobbies which is responsible for the impasse in which we find ourselves today over collecting and its erosive effects on the archaeological record. McIntosh, Togola and McIntosh 1995 therefore add:

the Good Collector will actively demonstrate a willingness to join with like-minded collectors to self police the art market. As a necessary part of this action, they will wrest the dialogue about the ethics of collecting and about relations of source and market nations from the trafficking syndicates and their apologists, where that dialogue about essential ethics is presently lodged
That was thirteen years ago. Where are those Good Collectors now? Why is the non-dialogue still in the hands of the dealers and their supporters? It is interesting to note that ethically-conscious hobbyists have not (38 years after the UNESCO convention) yet created their own code of honour, a code of ethics which sets their part of the collecting milieu apart from the hoi polloi who unquestioningly buy material of unknown origin. Why not?

In May 2008 there was some discussion of these issues on portable artefact collecting forums, and as part of this I put forward as material for discussion some suggestions what an archaeologist might consider such a code would need. The discussion went on for a few weeks, but nothing was formalised. (It is of course symptomatic who on these lists were for and who opposed to the idea of portable antiquity collectors creating such a code of ethics for themselves.) It seems worth setting down here for further reference what I thought at the time such a code should address.

1) Obviously for the archaeologist the important one would be that the responsible collector thinks at all times of the effects of their activity on the finite and fragile archaeological resource. If in any doubt about this, they'd not buy the offered item, no matter how nice it would look in a glass case.

2) From this follows that the responsible collector would not buy objects which have clearly or potentially come from recent/current illegal digging,or illegal export. The responsible collector would not regard the 'good collector' ('offering it a safe home') argument as a sufficient reason to support illegal activity, or to enter such items in their collection. If the dealer cannot provide independently verifiable proof that the object was legitimately obtained, it does not belong in a responsible collector's collection.

3) The responsible collector would recognize their role as a custodian and do their utmost to ensure the well-being of the items in their care.

4) The responsible collector would not split up assemblages of objects belonging together (grave group for example) by buying or selling just one or a few items from a larger associated group. Neither would they dismember and sell separately parts of one complete object.

5) The responsible collector will keep (and add to) in a permanent and ordered form the documentation of individual items, former owners, export papers, conservation reports etc. and pass them on to the next owner. [Obviously it would be ideal to suggest that the responsible collectorwould only dispose of finds to another responsible collector so they know that the carefully curated chain of documentation will be preserved].

6) Each object (or coherent associated group of objects) will be kept separate from others and be identified and catalogued in such a way that itcan be linked with the associated documentation.

7) If the object needs conservation, the responsible collector will have all but the simplest operations carried out by qualified persons and get a full report from them. If they cannot afford this they would avoid buying objects in poor state that need this kind of conservation. The responsible collector would keep photographic records of objects prior to repair and restoration, and be honest and open by describing in writing in their records the amount of repair and restoration undertaken.

8) The responsible collector will liase with the archaeological community where possible about the objects they own. They will endeavour to find out more about the objects they possess (curate) and what they mean. Significant objects (within reason) not be withheld from study. [The codes of ethics ofUS and some European archaeologists hinder this, but only if the objectsare "illicit"]. The responsible collector will endeavour to research their finds and their context and not just pile up some interesting curios.

9) Human remains. For reasons beyond the interest of archaeology and protection of world cultural heritage, collecting these items is clearly un-ethical. The trade in human body parts is subject to different laws indifferent parts of the world and obviously the collector has to respect this.

10) A related point, the responsible collector would respect and display sensitivity towards the nature of certain types of object and religious sanctions of some types belonging to societies still in existence.

11) Fakes, a responsible collector finds out one of the objects they bought is fake. What does he do? Destroy it? Sell it clearly described as a fake? Certainly once this has been ascertained, the object should not be allowed to function as potential historical evidence (The Lie BecameGreat/Muscarella type problems)

12) Disposing of unwanted items. Perhaps things nobody would buy even on eBay. Overcleaned Roman coins for example. Flint knapping waste they acquired once but no longer want in their growing collection. What would a responsible collector do with it? (including preventing it getting into a situation where it contaminates the archaeological record).

R.J. McIntosh; T. Togola and S.K. McIntosh 1995 ‘The Good Collector and the premise of Mutual respect Among Nations’, African Arts 28, 60-69.

More on the Heathrow 2011 Cunies Repatriation

Jonathan Taylor @JonTaylor_from the BM expands in a twitter thread, stitched here for the record, on that repatriation yesterday of some seized cunies:
The Times
Over the next few days (because I'm working on something time-critical) I want to expand this in a few different directions. First, some background. /Today we were able to return a seized consignment of 156 cuneiform tablets to Iraq. They come from some of the most badly looted sites : Umma, Larsa and Irisagrig. There must be similar consignments elsewhere in the world. [photo] [see my post here] /They were incorrectly declared on entry to the UK (from UAE) in February 2011. Described as handmade miniature clay tiles (cf. the Hobby Lobby tablet description). Implausible valuation. /HMRC’s [HM Revenue and Customs*] Fraud Investigation Service took action. They were seized from a freight forwarder near Heathrow Airport in June 2013. An investigation is still underway. / Once the objects become legally Crown Property, the British Museum makes arrangements for return to Iraq, in cooperation with the Iraqi Embassy. At no point do such objects become part of the collection. / Iraqi Embassies work to recover looted heritage. They return it to Iraq. In Baghdad, Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs transfers objects to the Ministry of Culture, and thereby to the Iraq Museum. / According to agreed procedures, British Museum provides expertise to law enforcement authorities, produces materials to facilitate registration and cataloguing, and submits a summary article to Iraqi journal, Sumer. / Middle East department has helped return several groups of material to Iraq. Also to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. Colleagues in other departments do similar work. The Circulating Artefacts project based in the Egypt and Sudan Department is very active and important
See also: Kaya Burgess, 'British Museum returns biggest ever haul of looted artefacts to Iraq'  The Times August 30 2019

*where my dad used to work PMB.

Thursday 29 August 2019

TimeLine Auction Roman Mask ‘matches Crosby Garrett find’ [UPDATED]

A dugup Roman masked helmet, suggested to be a "near pair to the famed Crosby Garrett parade helmet", comes up for sale next month (Roland Arkell, 'Mask ‘matches Crosby Garrett find’ Antiques Trade Gazette 26th Aug 2019).
The copper-alloy mask depicting an Amazonian warrior or goddess dating from the late 2nd or early 3rd century AD will be offered by TimeLine in Mayfair on September 3, with an estimate of £80,000- 100,000. The 10in (26cm) mask with its finely chased tutulus hairstyle, diadems and garlands has distinct artistic parallels to the near-complete helmet found by a father-and-son team of metal detectorists in May 2010 and later sold at Christie’s for £1.9m plus premium. The restorer who worked the mask believes they were made by the same workshop, perhaps even the same craftsman. [...] The mask is the property of a London vendor and has been through several British collections and dealers since it was first purchased in York in the 1970s [...] the find site is unknown although it is believed it was also unearthed in northern England.
Why not somewhere near, for example, Catterick with its Sarmatian units (Numerus Equitatum Sarmatarum and Cuneus Sarmatarum)? That seems possible to me. Two made by the same workshop, eh? Apparently also restored by the same guy, because the article says it was the restorer that affirms the affinity. The object has been reassembled from four pieces with some small areas of resin infill (what, in those old collections, or now?), and "it will be sold together with an Art Loss Register certificate and a metallurgic analytical report" as just one of more than 4000 antiquities lots to be offered by Timeline across seven days (the latter six days in Harwich). Art Trade Gazette is wrong when it suggests:
It was the discovery of the Crosby Garrett helmet and its subsequent sale to a private buyer that was the catalyst to a widening of the 1996 Treasure Act and specifically a change to the definition of what is legally classed as treasure in the UK.
and really should know better.

UPDATE 27th oct 2019
It sold below the estimate (was it the resin? Better than polyfiller).
Postd on You Tube as: September 2019 Auction Results 25 Oct 2019 by Timeline Auctions Ltd

Twittery Meme

'The Dirt' produced a meme, I think it can be applied elsewhere too:

Visit PortantIssues on Twitter

More Cunies Repatriated, Mystery of Source of Supply Endures

Remember ten years ago how the US dealers' lobby (Tompa, Sayles, Welsh the rest of these has-been clowns) were solemnly assuring us that the items looted in Iraq during the US-led invasion and occupation were not reaching the western market and nastily attacking those who said otherwise? Well, it seems that we are becoming aware of more and more of them that did, simply illustrating how much those self-proclaimed "experts" (I use the term loosely) actually knew. Here's another batch:
Jonathan Taylor @JonTaylor_BM · 12 godz.
Today we were able to return a seized consignment of 156 cuneiform tablets to Iraq. They come from some of the most badly looted sites : Umma, Larsa and Irisagrig. There must be similar consignments elsewhere in the world.
In the context of the latter remark, Chasing Aphrodite reminds us of this case from six years back: 'The Rosen Connection: Cornell Will Return 10,000 Cuneiform Tablets to Iraq' (Chasing Aphrodites  November 3, 2013)
The tablets were donated and lent to Cornell by New York attorney Jonathan Rosen, one of the world’s leading collectors of Near Eastern antiquities. [...] The source and ownership history of the Cornell tablets is unclear, as is the cause for their return. Neither Rosen nor the university will say where they were obtained, what their ownership history is or why they are being returned.[...]  Cornell has been criticized for accepting the Rosen Collection by scholars who suspect the tablets were looted from Iraq in the years after the 1991 Gulf War. Federal investigators suspected the same thing, records show.
Among the tablets is the private archive of a 21st century BC Sumerian princess in the city of Garsana
The source of the Garsana tablets was the subject of a 2001 investigation by the Department of Homeland Security[...] The 1,679 tablets were valued at less than $50,000 when they were imported, but the donor received a $900,000 tax deduction when they were given to Cornell in 2000, the records said. Ultimately, there were no findings of wrongdoing because investigators could not determine precisely when or where the objects were found, the records show. Harold Grunfeld, attorney for Jonathan Rosen, said all of the tablets “were legally acquired” and that the federal investigation found “no evidence of wrongdoing.”  
There seems to be a pattern emerging here, but some elements are still obscured by the failure of the media to give information about the people supplying these items to their last possessors.

The repatriates that were stored in the British Museum had been seized at the airport as long ago as 2011 where they were being shipped fallaciously labelled as 'miniature handmade tiles' ('British Museum returns biggest ever haul of looted artefacts to Iraq', Times August 30 2019)

Chew Valley Hoard Fiasco: Some More Questions

it's [now] land under plough

A northern FLO that insists that, unlike the rest of the British public - who are not allowed to know where their heritage has been ripped from - he knows where the Chew Valley Hoard was found. He says so, in a discussion on whether the finders were searching, as was reported in the first accounts of the discovery, on 'unploughed' land. Now, I think the BBC video, apparently made on 25/26th January 2019, shows the site was at that time under grazed (or mown) pasture. But the FLO assures us this is "missinformation" (sic):
Benjamin Westwood Google earth images clearly show it's land under plough
I admit my first thought on reading that was 'NGR'. But later four numbers kept going through my head: 2528, 2546, 2571 and seven months. Then a grammatical point: present simple. Present simple, the land is under the plough, but the point is was the land ploughed when the video was made? To my eyes no. Jude Plouviez denies that this is the case, she sees that video with different eyes:
Thanks Benjamin Westwood, yes I agree it was from ploughed land, never believe what you read in the Daily Mail.....
Or see on BBC videos? But note the past simple. Present simple/past simple. I wonder whether we are missing something here?

To what does the figure 2528 (BBC and most other accounts) refer? The tekkies say that the day they took the bucket in the boot of their car to the BM, they'd counted out the coins. Is 2528 the number of coins they initially deposited, written down on a piece of paper and read out to the journalist? But Gareth Williams reports he'd seen (at least) 2546. So, did someone count wrongly? Or are we seeing a reflection of something else? And the FLO's present simple actually means something that we should know about the collection history of this group of objects?

Imagine it, you are two people involved in the antiquities trade, you work for Hansons, you know how much just one coin of Harold II is worth, you know how much just one coin of William I in good nick is worth. Then you find a hoard of them, but they are under grass, hellishly difficult to dig, the fine stonefree soil is a bit claggy. It starts raining, piddling down. Thunder. You are wet through, but still you keep searching and digging. In January it gets dark early, you keep searching and digging, and digging. 'It's mayhem' you later say. In the end, you call it a day and go home with the claggy coins in a bucket, which you later deliver to the Museum (Mr Staples said of the dig: "We didn't leave the site until we thought we'd got all the coins...). But how can you be sure, digging hastily (why?) in those conditions?

But, even though the coins are in the BM, there is not a public announcement that summat's bin found. Oh no. Because then "the nighthawks" will be there - the story goes. But if the five finders thought they'd got all of the hoard (which is what they now say), the the nighthawks will just find empty mud-filled holes in that field, won't they? It takes seven months for the finders and the BM to admit what they've got. Why, what changed?

Imagine it, what would you do? I suspect a lot of us at the earliest opportunity would take a few days off work to get back down there and check that every single coin had been gathered. I think most people would go there several times, tell the landowner about latest progress in the BM, cleaning those muddy coins, what's there, how much it's going to be worth... the farmer jumps for joy too. And from time to time, there'd be a trip to the BM with a few coins that had been fond after the main batch. Hence the changed numbers. That would seem to be a logical explanation, would it not?

But all that digging. In the grass. Now, if at the end of January, we see a field under grass, it means there was no winter crop there. Later on in the year, its still going to be grass. Longer grass, more matted grass. Difficult-to-get-yer-coil-to-the-soil grass and troublesome-to-get-your-spade-in grass. Yeah? Are you with me?

One way to make the search easier, and be sure its easy to dig would be simply to plough it. This is what many tekkies ask farmers to do before they organise a commercial rally on a farm that is 'difficult'. The ploughing brings more deeply-buried artefacts up to the surface and makes hoiking and pocketing them easier. There are many references on the forums about this being common practice,. But of course it can completely trash the upper part of the archaeological deposits just below the part previously plough-disturbed. OK, the FLO says that the Chew Valley Hoard paddock is NOW 'land under plough'. Was it in January 2010, and on which Google Earth time slices is it also shown as ploughed land? Could the FLO answer that question honestly? Or just tell the public where this place is so we can judge for ourselves. How much additional damage was done to the archaeology of the site between January 2019 and now and by whom?

Hansons Antiquities Department specialists, Adam Staples and Lisa Grace

Historica is a new specialist Coins and Antiquities department at Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers, running quarterly auctions of treasures from our historical past.
From gold, silver and bronze coins, to weapons, tools, jewellery, dress fittings, horse trappings, religious items and ceramics, these items will offer a true glimpse into the past.
Department specialists, Adam Staples and Lisa Grace commented, 'at Historica, we have a real passion for these items and priding ourselves on quality and authenticity, we aim to service a growing public interest in our heritage.'
Adam and Lisa have worked in the field of antiquities and coins for almost 36 years between them. From 'Finds Advisors' on metal detecting forums to regularly writing articles for ‘The Searcher Magazine’ (a metal detecting finds publication), bringing a wealth of experience to Hansons.
Adam and Lisa have worked with museums both at home and abroad, even visiting Croatia twice to work with archaeologists searching for a Roman battle site. Furthermore, they have spent five years identifying and recording finds for the 'United Kingdom Detector Finds Database' which records our heritage for future generations. They have also recorded finds with the Portable Antiquities Scheme, the Fitzwilliam Museum and Oxford University Archaeology Department's Celtic Coin Index, uncovering several previously unknown types of coin along the way.

Chew Valley Hoard Fiasco: Time Discrepancy

I have already drawn attention to the aspect of 'numbers' in the ongoing Chew Valley Hoard Fiasco, nobody can get the number of coins right. There is also a huge time discrepancy. By law, the finders have 14 days to report potential Treasure. In this case, "all" the coins were in the British Museum the day after they were hastily hoiked from the ground in a raging rainstorm. Yet it took seven whole months for the public to learn that part of the archaeological heritage was above-ground. Since it all about getting knowledge of 'Treasure' finds in the public domain, why does the Treasure Act place all of the obligations on the finder to report to the authorities representing the public interest, but zero obligations on those authorities equally quickly to inform the public, in the same public interest?

Why do the BM and Coroner feel empowered to sit on this information, hiding it from the public, and even when that information is made public, hiding part of it from the public? We expect transparency from finders, where is that reciprocated in what the 'authorities' do?

Wednesday 28 August 2019

Chew Valley Hoard: The Numbers Don't Add Up, Do They?

"The hoard consists of 2,528 silver coins, including 1,236 coins of Harold II and 1,310 coins of William I"
In the school I went to, they told us that 1236 + 1310 is not 2528, but 2546. Where is this discrepancy from?

There's a fresh Wikipedia article on the hoard, but the author (Rodw)  has got the whole thing round his neck, what a mess (partly caused by the newspaper articles he's based it on being crap journalism).

Vignette; Not in it for the money, but the knowledge we get is pretty dodgy too. 

Chew Valley Hoard: Time for Some Trite Narrativisation to Claim "Relevance"

Telling the public stories
Archaeologists are not very good at explaining what they do, why they do it and how they are (they think) 'relevant', so they fall back on platitudes (Orsner) and trite narrativisation. The same goes for coineys. The Guardian report on the Chew Valley Hoard has two silly examples in the same text, and they want you to pay for 'serious journalism' (Mark Brown, 'Huge hoard of Norman coins reveals medieval tax scam' Wed 28 Aug 2019)

The first is this tax evasion trope.  
Gareth Williams, the museum’s curator of early medieval coinage, said the hoard of 2,528 coins was unusually large and “massively important” in shining light on the history of the period.
What he actually means is not actually the hoard and its 'grounded context', for it has none, but the loose coins - this is Dave Welsh/Wayne Sayles heap-of-coins-on-a-table numismatics. No more, no less. Since the coins were not properly recovered, we do not even know if this was one deposit or three. But to return to the loose coins:
Three of the coins have been identified as “mules”, a combination of two types of coin – essentially an early form of tax-dodging by the moneyer, the person who made them.
That's it. Ex cathedra pronouncement, tug yer forelocks plebs. To understand why, you'd have to go back to a British Numismatic journal article of 1929/30 (Brooke, George Cyril 1929/30, 'Quando moneta vertebatur: The Change of Coin Types in the Eleventh Century; Its Bearing on Mules and Overstrikes’, BNJ 20, 1929–30, 105–16 at 105–8). It is not clear what evidential weight can be placed on just three coins in a group of more than 2500 of them, and actually the behaviour of individual minters does not really mean as much in the debate the coiney thinks these little discs of metal with pictures and writing on them will resolve: One of the big debates amongst historians is the extent to which there was continuity or change, both in the years immediately after the conquest and across a longer period” change in what? I think there are a couple of dozen things that were more fundamental to understanding this period than how long John of Northwick (or whoever) carried on using a type VIId die in his workshop, or whether he used them only on Fridays when he knew the King's official would be dining with the Abbot.

The other one bit of narrativisation is related to Boris Johnson and Brexit in the news today as the PM prorogated Parliament
One of the most tantalising questions is why someone would bury so much money. Williams said the south-west of England was a violent place in the aftermath of 1066, with raids by the Welsh and the return of Harold’s sons from Ireland. “Imagine a period of instability with someone in charge of the country that not everybody actively supports and uncertainty in terms of the relationship with the continent,” he said. “It is the sort of circumstances in which anyone might choose to bury their money.”
if anyone sees Mr Williams striding across the BM forecourt with a spade in one hand and a big canvas bag in the other, you'll know what he's doing. Mind the cables. But don't treat us all as idiots. 

Reference:  Charles E. Orser, Jr., 'Negotiating our 'familiar' pasts', pp 273-85 [in:] Sarah Tarlow and Susie West (eds) 1999, The familiar past? : archaeologies of later historical Britain', London ; New York : Routledge.

More on Chew Valley Hoard Diggers' Idea of Best Practice, "It was Mayhem"

Lisa Grace and Adam Staples. Credit: Aaron Chown/PA
Sejal Karia ('It was crazy. They were everywhere': Metal detector couple tell of finding Norman Conquest coin cache worth millions  ITV News  28 August 2019) sums it up perfectly:
A couple of metal detectorists who have spent 15 years on the hunt for a hoard to make their fortune have spoken of the moment they uncovered a huge trove thought to be worth millions. Lisa Grace and Adam Staples said they were stunned to dig up the coins which date back to the Battle of Hastings. 
Now usually artefact hunters say they don't do their collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record for money. But this couple of 'specialists' are embedded deep in the antiquities trade, they work for Hanson's the auctioneer who sees a market in flogging off the archaeological heritage. Not only that, but the ITV article contains some candid comments about the recovery methods, no individual polybags and proper plotting going on here:
"It was crazy, absolute mayhem," Mr Staples told ITV News. "I was on the phone to archaeologists, the landowner turned up, he brought some buckets for the coins. "There was more coins coming up; we'd have a rest, there was still more coins. We stopped counting them, it was taking too long. They were just everywhere." [...] "It went from one coin, three coins, 30 coins and gradually progressed. It took about four, five hours to dig it up." By the time they had finished, 2,528 coins, each worth about £5,000, had been recovered. [...] They handed the silver hoard over the British Museum for evaluation. 
Now, if they'd secured the site and not engaged in "mayhem" at the expense of the knowledge the pattern of coins in the soil might have revealed, but allowed archaeologists to do a proper recovery of the information, we'd all be a bit better off, and not just the soon-to-be-rewarded hoikers. I wonder what these clowns think they'd achieve 'being on the phone to archaeologists' - on a Saturday afternoon?

In the Independent account, we hear how the finders feel aggrieved that archaeologists were unsurprisingly not really enthusiastic either about spending their Sunday looking at a bucketload of dirty coins divorced from their context (Sherna Noah, Craig Simpson, 'Detectorists ‘hit jackpot’, unearthing Norman coin hoard worth possible £5m', Independent 28th Aug 19):
[Mr Staples] said of the find made earlier this year: “We found them on the Saturday. They stayed in the bucket, uncounted, with the soil remains to try to get an archaeologist out to try and examine them. “When that didn’t happen by Monday we thought we better do something about this. We counted them out … and drove them to the British Museum. “They opened the gates for us and cleared the crowds!”

Mosul Museum Smashers: Got One of Them, Where Are The Rest?

Iraqi security arrest ISIL suspect in Mosul's Tal Ruman neighbourhood, who confessed to destroying antiquities and ancient artefacts in 2016, Interior Ministry said in a statement. The man “had appeared in one of the propaganda videos the Islamic State produced when they controlled the city of Mosul". He “was carrying an iron hammer in his hand and demolishing archaeological statues in the museum”.

Digging Blindly Through the Rain, buckets for the coins: More on the Chew Valley Hoard

A large hoard of 2,528 (sic) silver coins of the reign of William I has been found in the Chew Valley in north Somerset by a group of metal detectorists (Anon, 'Detectorists find huge Chew Valley Norman coin hoard' BBC 28th August 2019).
Lisa Grace and Adam Staples, from Derby, found the hoard in January The Chew Valley hoard contains 1,236 coins of Harold II, the last crowned Anglo-Saxon king of England, and 1,310 coins of William I, as well as several coin fragments. [...] Mr Staples, 43, said he and his girlfriend were training five friends to use their metal detectors on a weekend trip when they made the discovery. The first coin, of William the Conqueror, was found by a friend, with the bulk of the hoard found by Mr Staples and his partner. While the coins have not been officially valued, they could be worth about £5m which would be shared among the whole group and the landowner, Mr Staples added. Mr Staples said of the dig: "We didn't leave the site until we thought we'd got all the coins... "We had a massive thunder and rainstorm. We were all soaking wet by the time we finished."[...] Ms Grace, 42, joked: "It was like the gods didn't want to disturb the hoard... We were wet through but it really didn't seem to matter."
But the recording suffered, didn't it? The report seems to suggest that they hoiked out 2500+ coins in the conditions shown in the video on the BBC page - screenshots to the right, presumably taken before the rainstorm began. What is the prurient fascination with the ages (variously reported) and marital status of this couple? Even the BBC at it? Current Archaeology reports:
Current Archaeology @CurrentArchaeo · 6 godz.
W odpowiedzi do @PortantIssues @britishmuseum and @findsorguk
At the press briefing today it was said that the coins were in ploughsoil.
I leave it up to my readers to decide for themselves whether the BBC video shows a ploughed field  or not, just after the harvest. Looks like grass to me. And that loam looks pretty well worm-sorted to me. Also "sixteen/seventeen in there" [that there hole] does not look much like plough scattering to me. Can we see the distribution plot of the Harold Coins and the William coins please? Why would the BM be telling people that the field was ploughed and that the tekkies were not in any way ignoring the Code of Best Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales when it seems from what has been reported and what we see that they were? Why does the BM always do this so frequently? (yes, BM, you know precisely to what I am referring - torc but no search permit on airplane crash site, Cumwhitton ploughsoilHollingbourne grave mound, and all the rest, shame on you). But our dear archaeological press, Current Archaeology is not having that, the Code was 'not ignored' because: 
Current Archaeology @CurrentArchaeo
W odpowiedzi do @PortantIssues @britishmuseum and @findsorguk
It certainly wasn't ignored by the detectorists in this case - reported immediately by the finders to the FLO and local coroner - it was at the BM the day after its discovery! Which is why the BM experts are now able to study its contents. And the hoard itself is very exciting...
She'll get you
No, it was in the BM in January, seven months ago, they've had it seven long months. It 'was at the BM the day after discovery', indicating that it really was hoiked out blindly through scattered little holes in the grass in one day. So instead of taking a carrier bag full of coins from Derby to the BM, the next day, the Codes of Practice (both the Code of Best Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales as well as that for the Treasure Act) say that as soon as they realised it was a hoard, they should stop trying to dig it out themselves, especially if this is a pasture site with possible stratigraphical relationships involved, secure the site and let it be properly documented. Too true the earth-gods didn't want this crew disturbing the hoard in such a cavalier manner.
 "It took about four, five hours to dig it up
I think archaeologists plotting the position of the individual pieces of archaeological evidence would have taken 'a little time longer' over such an exacting task.  But then looking at that video, 'exacting' is not the first adjective that comes to mind (BBC: the word is 'pax', it means 'peace'). I think this gives the atmosphere:
 "It was crazy, absolute mayhem," Mr Staples told ITV News. "I was on the phone to archaeologists, the landowner turned up, he brought some buckets for the coins. "There was more coins coming up; we'd have a rest, there was still more coins. We stopped counting them, it was taking too long. They were just everywhere", detectorist Adam Staples said.
OK, Devil's advocate. How can we tell, given how it looks as if it was recovered, that these coins come from one hoard and not several separate smaller deposits made at the same place over the years? Coineys? Are we going to get a die-link report from at least this one metal-detector-found hoard? And the rest?

When is Unploughed Land Ploughed? [UPDATED]

It now turns out that the  2,571  (sic) coins from the '[Chew Valley] hoard are virtually worthless, archaeologically too, because instead of being recovered in a proper context, they were all rattling around in the ploughsoil of an unploughed field. That's what the BM says:
Current Archaeology  1 godz. temu
w odpowiedzi do @PortantIssues @britishmuseum and @findsorguk
At the press briefing today it was said that the coins were in ploughsoil.
That's what they said about Cumwhitton... Anyway, that field was reported as not being under plough, so were the detectorists searching ploughland or unploughed land? The BM should clarify, did the newspapers get it wrong?  Searching finds other papers also have the same word in their stories (here  ['found in an unploughed paddock'], hereherehere and here). That word is now claimed to have come from thin air? The BBC video shows dense-growing grass, cropped short (grazing or cutting?) with dandelions and other wild plants growing in it - in short what you'd expect the grass in a paddock to look like.

Here's an FLO's assurances:
Benjamin Westwood Hi Jude, there's a bit of miss-information floating about regarding this hoard, as it seems it was found on ploughed land and not permanent pasture. It was reported immediately, and delivered to the BM very soon after. 
and funnily enough the video that was on the BBC webpage this morning mainly showing them digging in the grass has been replaced by another... I wonder why that could be?  Miss Information at work here too?


The Durham FLO claims to know what has been happening in North Somerset, further assurances that the BBC video was taken on ploughland:
Benjamin Westwood Google earth images clearly show it's land under plough
IF you know where the findspot is. Does he? How come? I asked him to give me the NGR so I can verify that (after many years experience dealing with the I have lost the ability to trust the PAS in things like that). So a journalist who interviewed the pair and then independently wrote "unploughed" was making it up? Why would you think they did that? It seems an odd thing for a reporter reporting news to do. "Fake news" is an easy call to make when it challenges what we find comfortable, but what is fake here?


As is wholly predictable, the PASFLO after having attempted to discredit what I said about 'metal detecting partners' has decided silence is the better part of valour. Once again, we find the PAS unwilling to back up their reassuring statements with actual fact. And once gain, we see it undermining its own 'authority'  thereby.  Why should the public trust a Scheme-in-denial that refuses to engage with awkward questions in an honest manner? The video shows the five tekkies digging down through compact grass, the first reports clearly refer to the findspot as an "unploughed" field, and a "paddock".

Chew Valley Hoard Finders Involved in Antiquities Trade!

On searching for more information on that 'unploughed field', we also find:
Coins.Earth 20 wrze┼Ťnia 2016 · Adam Staples and Lisa Grace
are well-known metal-detectorists and coins and antiquities experts who've joined Hansons (Auctioneers in Derbyshire, UK) with a new auction Historica, Adan N Lisa are experienced workers with FLOs, UK Detector finds database, museums and the whole field. They are planning to be on the-saleroom. They've mentioned Richard III and Offa and the South Derbyshire Roman hoard. [ 28 more words ]
The Independent says Mr Staples 'works providing auction consultations', here he is, doing his stuff. Here they both are, doing it again. And now, I see I have written about this pair of ill-dressed 'specialists' from UKDFD before

Tuesday 27 August 2019

Zozo Talks about the Harrogate Hoard

This has to be one of the dumbest metal-detecting videos ever.
WatchZozo Published on 27 Aug 2019
A father and son were out in a field participating in one of their favorite pastimes that they do together. The two of them love to grab their metal detectors and go searching for hidden treasures. For years they’ve gone out searching and never really found anything too crazy. Then one day everything changed when they came across a treasure so spectacular that they couldn’t believe their eyes…

Artefact Hunters Taken Ill after "Responsible" Metal detectorist feeds them 'Cannabis Cake' on Yorkshire Rally

High Melton near Sprotbrough, Doncaster, lies in the heart of an extensive Iron Age and Roman crop mark landscape of South Yorkshire - ploughing has reduced the topsoil to a thin superficial layer so any detecting will go straight into features and archaeological deposits. As, presumably, the clowns that organised a 'Coil to the Soil' commercial Bank Holiday Weekend artefact hunting rally there know only too well. But it did not end well for some of the participants who had driven to the rally from across the country. Pictures posted on social media showed several ambulances parked in a field near to a white marquee (BBC, 'Metal detectorists taken ill eating 'cannabis cakes' in High Melton' 27th August 2019)
A group of metal detectorists had to go to hospital after unknowingly eating cakes apparently spiked with cannabis in a village called High Melton. Some 13 men and women fell ill at the rally in Doncaster on Saturday night. A detectorist spokesman said: "People could have died. It was lucky that no children or people on medication with serious health problems ate the cake." A 48-year-old woman from County Durham was arrested and later released on bail.
I presume alcohol was involved, rule number one, don't drink with space cakes.

Here's a video 'Up to 20 metal detectorists rushed to hospital on a weekend rally'  and from the comments we learn that the (as yet unnamed) 48 year old woman had made the cake for somebody else: 
The Man With The Hat Published on 27 Aug 2019
Latest news overnight. The cake was meant as a joke 50th birthday cake. The recipient knew what it was but shared it out to people without their knowledge or consent.
Julian Evan-Hart, editor of Treasure Hunting Magazine, said it was an irresponsible, poorly thought-through joke but that the cakes were homemade, and had not been sold. "This isn't a poor reflection on our hobby, the dig organisers or anyone else involved the planning of the event. It's just a case of random lunacy ". Not a poor reflection on "responsible detectorists' he means? How does one define "responsible" behaviour in this milieu? Obviously rather loosely. More than a dozen people at the detectorist event were said to have "ingested" the substance, which is a class B drug in the UK.
A large fleet of medical staff were called to the scene. They included eight ambulances, a rapid response vehicle, two doctors, two clinical supervisors and a Hazardous Area Response Team. Yorkshire Ambulance Service said two people were treated on the spot. It said: "Yorkshire Ambulance Service received an emergency call just before 18:30 BST on Saturday to reports of a number of people feeling unwell at a national metal detecting event... "They had become unwell after ingesting an unknown substance."
The 13 people admitted to hospital, who came from across the country, were later discharged. But there are artefact hunters that think this is hilarious, here's a Die Untergang meme that immediately appeared on line that evening:

Coil To The Soil Incident Control Room This is a comedy meme of an incident recently at a metal detecting rally and any depicted characters are pure fantasy and no unicorns was hurt in its production 
Which is not to say that a huge amount of archaeological damage was not done during this rally. Was the FLO in attendance and... did they get some of the cake?

Ambassador to the Hobby: Steve Auker

The Man with the Hat (Steve Auker) produced a video about the mishap at the 'Coil to the Soil' Rally pretending concern, but saw a money-making opportunity arising from it, he's advertising teeshirts on his Facebook page.

You can order one here for 14 Euros if you are into puerile tekkie infighting.

Meanwhile, Mr Auker was asked for a comment from the Telegraph, but it seems he prefers other, smaller, papers...

Not the world's best ambassador for the hobby... It's probably why he did not get that video contract from the MD manufacturer.

Monday 26 August 2019

On Critical Thinking

There is not enough of this around these days:
Mary Ann Canty Merrill · 24 sierpnia ·
I like to share this critical thinking tool often...for students, educators, administrators, parents, leaders and the community at large. You're welcome.

US and Israeli Collectors Buy Up What Remains of Yemen’s Ancient Heritage

Four historic buildings in Sana’a’s old quarter were destroyed
 during bombing by Saudi warplanes in June, 2015.
Photo MintPress News

Yemen was once described as a living museum, but U.S. made bombs dropped by the Saudi-led Coalition’s jets have not only killed thousands of civilians and led to famine and the spread of disease but also pulverized the country’s rich architectural history and left its inimitable heritage at the mercy of the highest bidder.
During their war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have established smuggling networks in the country to loot historic sites.[...] The smuggling of Yemeni antiquities is often carried out by diplomats operating out of Yemeni embassies from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in return for lucrative sums of money allegedly provided by patrons from the United States and Israel. Yemen is the cradle to many civilizations and home to multiple faiths — particularly Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which all thrived in Yemen for millennia. For the Israelis, many of Yemen’s antiquities are seen as the rightful property of the Jewish people and there is reason to believe that Israel is also involved in the looting of Yemen’s heritage. Officials in Sana’a say they have strong evidence that Yemeni artifacts are being sold off to American and Isreali buyers. [...] Aden, in the eastern province of Marib, is favored by smugglers for shuttling stolen artifacts abroad. Here — according to the testimonies of a number of smugglers arrested by Houthi forces and now serving their sentences Sana’a’s Central Prison — smugglers are able to work in broad daylight in facilities provided to them by high-ranking officials in the ousted government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, with direct coordination of both Emirati and Saudi officials.
Ahmed Abdulkareem. 'US and Israeli Collectors Buy Up What Remains of Yemen’s Ancient Heritage' Mint Press August 26th, 2019

Benjamin Netanyahu holds a 500-year-old
Torah scroll
 brought to Israel, at the
Knesset on March 21, 2016. Haim Zach | GPO
I think this piece is a little contentious, in particular the way it keeps returning to the role of the US (which I am not denying, it seems though that Trump-bashing and Jew-bashing are the main aims of this text). I am discounting the evidential value of the guy the journalist spoke to  "A.M.M., who asked to be identified only by his initials, worked as an antiquities smuggler for a security outfit based in the UAE". So I think we do not know what the real story is here. I was intrigued by the "hand-carved doors" mentioned in the article, are these turning up on the market now as architectural salvage? But certainly, if you go to eBay you can find several hundred antiquities which are labelled as having come from Yemen, including cut up Torah scrolls coming from sellers in Israel. They are being brought to Israel, cut up and sold off to buyers all over the world. Think about that.

Metal-detecting couple find one of Britain's biggest ever treasure hoards as they discover almost 2,600 ancient coins worth around £5m in an unploughed field

A spokesman for the British Museum has confirmed that a large hoard (2,571 silver coins ) of late Anglo-Saxon and Norman date was discovered in January (James Gant, 'Metal-detecting couple find one of Britain's biggest ever treasure hoards as they discover almost 2,600ancient coins worth around £5m in an unploughed field' Mail online 25th August 2019). The PAS has issued a strongly-worded statement condemning this case of irresponsible pilfering of archaeological material from pasture, totally against the Code of Best Practice for Metal Detecting in England and Wales. The NCMD is believed to be also considering ejecting the couple from the organization, and several archaeological bodies are weighing up making representations that the Treasure ransom is heavily reduced for both finder and permitting landowner.
Adam Staples and partner Lisa Grace unearthed the 'once in a lifetime' find of almost 2,600 ancient coins that date back 1,000 years. Although the find is smaller than the famous Staffordshire Hoard - the biggest collection of buried coins and artefacts discovered in Britain - it is thought to be at least £1million more valuable. [...] Mr Staples and [Ms] Grace, [...], made the astonishing find with their metal detectors while searching an unploughed field on a farm in the north east Somerset area in January.  [...] The couple notified [...] the county's local finds liaison officer as they were obliged to by law 
Well, actually section 8 of the law says they are obliged to report it to the Coroner. The couple live in Derby, a 200-km drive down the M5 to North Somerset [Chew Valley - update PMB]. And once again, absolutely no sign that there has been a PAS working away for the last two decades (at great public expense)  trying to explain to the whole British public what responsible metal detecting is and what archaeological significance is. Here they are failing, the Mail is chasing another storyline:
Nigel Mills, a coin expert and consultant for London auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb, said: 'I am told the coins are absolutely stunning. 'Each coin will have the moneyers name on and the mint of where it was issued. 'In the case of the Harold II coins, some will be from moneyers that we have not seen before. 'Harold II coins are rarer than William coins and could be worth between £2,000 to £4,000 each. 'The William I coins will be between £1,000 and £1,500. This hoard could be worth between £3m and £5m. 'Museums have been buying up all of the hoards found, but in this case the hoard may be too great for them. It maybe that an appeal for sponsors is launched to try and acquire them.' 
Alternatively we could just record them properly like all the other millions of artefacts that artefact hunters dig out of their archaeological context, and release them onto the voracious market. It's where the other stuff goes. What's the difference (really)?  And a museum can display a 3-printout of a scan of the pile of them for the cor-blimey effect.

Oh, by the way.... the lilly-livered PAS said no such thing, might upset the 'partners', the NCMD couldn't give a tinkers about the Code, they've got their own ('shut the gates'), and you cannot count on any of the British archaeological bodies to raise their heads above the parapet. So it goes on, the newspapers are not even aware of what they are writing....

Mudlarking Book Sells Well

Lara Maiklem (@LondonMudlark)'s new book 'Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames' has gone straight in at number 6 on The Sunday Times Bestsellers list. Is it the subject matter or the writing style that is responsible? Will more people be encouraged to take up the collecting hobby by it, or is it being read as escapism (as a substitute to doing it)?

Sunday 25 August 2019

Mount Holyoke College Art Museum Called Out

What is the collecting history of a Ganesh statue acquired in 1996 (from whom?) and now in  Mount Holyoke College Art Museum [ South Hadley, MA 0107? It was purchased with the Belle and Hy Baier Art Acquisition Fund, before going ahead what checks were applied on behalf of the funding family to ensure that this was not a stolen piece levered off a standing monument and smuggled out of India, but had instead left the country in some legal manner? 

The problem is, reportedly, there are photographs....

I was struck by an 'educational' handout the Museum produces ' Reconstructing Antiquity: A Guide to Teaching with Objects and how it insists teachers ask their students:
"After each response, always ask, “How do you know?”, “What do you see that makes you say that?” or “How can you tell?” "
interestingly, in the explanatory descriptions that accompany the lessons (like the one with the two 'Palmyra' tomb slabs) there is zero detail on the collecting history of any of the antiquities (or the Roman glass that the museum online database shows was also bought with money from the Baier family). How can we tell Holyoak? If you are not transparent about what you actually know about the origins of all this stuff.... we cannot.

What this is doing is perpetuating the modus operandi of the mere guessing, based on form ('looks like') that Marlowe criticises in her book Shaky Ground. Without grounding, without a factual context, then the stories made up based on what something looks like are no kind of learning (except how to use the imagination - which is not scholarship). The teachers and kids using this museum collection as an 'educational' resource are being shortchanged, the donors that fund it also.

Australia: Uluru climbs banned from October 2019

Climbing Uluru is set to be a thing of the past after the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board decided unanimously to ban the activity, starting in 2019. The ban will begin on October 26, 2019 to coincide with the 34th anniversary of the return of Uluru to traditional owners. The decision to ban people climbing Uluru comes after a long history of behaviour that has offended the traditional owners of the sacred site. Traditional owners have been asking visitors not to climb Uluru since the 1985 handback and signs requesting people reconsider climbing have been in place at the base of the climb area since 1992. The entirety of Uluru is a sacred area and the site where the climb begins is also a sacred men's area.
Georgia Hitch and Nick Hose, 'Uluru climbs banned from October 2019 after unanimous board decision to 'close the playground'...' ABC News 1 Nov 2017,

Ring Surfaces after 40 Years, Landowner's Family Due for Surprise Refund

Steel-toed boots for fieldwork
 and a pocket full of keys
Poor confused metal-detectorist in UK is "surprised" to find a gold ring in his garage (Chiara Giordano Pensioner discovers ring found buried in field is medieval artefact worth up to £10,000' MSN 19 hrs ago)
 A metal detectorist dug up a rare gold ring and kept it in his garage for 40 years only to discover it was medieval treasure worth up to £10,000. Tom Clark, 81, first found the piece of jewellery in 1979 while searching a plot of farmland just outside his home town of Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire. Without realising its true value, he put the ring inside a metal tin and left it inside a garage, where it remained forgotten for decades. It wasn’t until he began sorting through items from his mother’s house after her death that Mr Clark came across the seal ring again by chance. [...] Mr Clark said: “I had completely forgotten about it. “At the time I’d only been metal detecting for 10 years and didn’t realise the ring was anything special. It was all twisted and broken when I dug it up. 
Oh really? So this guy did not recognise gold when he saw it? That'd make him the thickest metal detectorist in England, I'd say. How much longer than "only ten years" would the average leather craftsman (which is what the BBC says he did) need to learn that the yellowish shiny metal that some things are made of is called "gold"? Twisted and broken, he says - so when and by whom was it repaired - was that before or after the garage storage? But it has a stone in the bezel, so it cant have been 'that' twisted that the latter fell out. Anyhow Clueless Tom:
decided to get it valued and was shocked to discover it was a 670-year-old medieval artefact dating back to 1350 [...]. It is now set to be sold at Hansons Auctioneers’ Historica and Metal Detecting Finds Auction in Etwall, Derbyshire, on 27 August for an estimated £8,500 to £10,000. 
And the family of the landowner on whose land this was found - will they be getting a cut? Why was this not declared under the pre-1996 Treasure Trove laws? Oh, yes, it was "all twisted and broken", so nobody knew what it was....
I took it to a museum along with a lot of other rings I’d come across so they could record the finds. “I went back a week later and they told me the rings were all fairly modern and gave them back to me. “So, I put them all in a tin and left them in the garage at my mother’s house where I was living at the time. Back then I would have been in my 30s. 
Ah, still living with his Mum in his thirties, that explains a lot. In fact though, if the ring was found in 1979, he'd be in his forties and living with his mum. This "a museum" would presumably have been Buckinghamshire County Museum in Church St (Aylesbury HP20 2QP). Now there the archaeologist was at that time, if I am not mistaken, Mike Farley, and from what I know of him personally, I find it totally incomprehensible that in 1979, he'd not have spotted a gold ring with an intaglio and said it was "modern" and did not need reporting as Treasure Trove, no matter if it was allegedly "twisted and broken".  What's going on here? Maybe Bucks Museums can tell us what records they have of local objects brought in by Tom Clark in and around 1979. Anyway, he says:
“A few months ago, I was sorting through some stuff in my own garage that had come from my mother’s house and there it was – the tin with the rings in it.” Mr Clark said he knows a lot more now after 50 years spent metal detecting and realised “straight away” that the ring dated back to about 1350 when he came across it in the garage. He added: “I took it back to my local museum and the find has now been recorded. 
The ring does not, apparently, figure on the PAS database, despite having been found forty years ago. I'm looking at the surface finish of this object that had been found unrecognisable "all twisted and broken" and wondering just where it has been repaired, on the shiny polished hoop for example? On the delicate (thin) collar holding the intaglio? On the edge of the bezel with the inscription, which part of that has been restored to make this "all twisted and broken" ring look like it does now? I wonder what kind of objective "condition report" Hanson's can give to show which part of this restored "all twisted and broken" object are in fact authentic and as made? That (rather odd) intaglio with its intriguing toolmarks for example?

The ring reportedly bears a Latin inscription 'NVNCIE.VERA.TEGO' which the metal detectorist passing as a finds expert at Hanson's say may translate as ‘I hide the true message’. It does not, but this find does indeed have a message or two for us about metal detectorists

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