Saturday, 21 December 2019

Celebrating Archaeological Disaster

More vacuous 'on this day' claptrap from PAS-devotees incapable of having something more substantive to say as 'public outreach':
Lenborough Hoard Project@LenboroughHoard·7 g.
Today is the fifth anniversary of the hoards discovery, on a winter solstice afternoon...
And, instead of securing the site to allow a proper recovery, within a few hours the archaeologist on site had the whole lot hastily scooped out of the ground into an orange Sainsbury's carrier bag and tipped it out on the farmer's table.

Since then, a full five years on, the major fieldwork project of this 'nationally important Treasure findspot' has revealed WHAT basic information about the earthwork site commercially plundered fundamental to understanding the context of its deposition? Professor David Gill has set out some of the problems in a timely article, there is other stuff on my blog here. Meanwhile 'professional' archaeologists and 'responsible' treasure hunters in Britain are furious as the cost of 'basic extraction equipment' is hiked up this Christmas.

Top left, a well-preserved site with (subtle) earthwork evidence of a complex series of past activities, preserved under permanent pasture. A commercial artefact hunting rally held on such a site cannot be regarded as in any way "responsible", nor participation of archaeologists in such events any way ethical. Artefacts were hoiked from this site in a matter of a few hours with minimal recording of the relationship of their context of deposition with the visible earthworks.

Top right, the unsystematic and undisciplined commercial pilfering of archaeological evidence in full swing. The hoard has been discovered and MD-gawpers are clustered.

Middle left: Chaotic keyhole 'archaeology' in progress. A photo that encapsulates all that is wrong on UK policy on artefact hunting and its relationship with 'professional' archaeology. And instead of getting defensive about it (as PAS did) this should have been used five years ago to campaign for change, change now (note, picture comes from a detectorist's blog, setting a model).

Middle right: The coins tipped out on a table a few hours after discovery, no attempt made to keep items from different parts of the deposit, or deposits, together. 'Counting' them was seen as more important (note the photo appears on a Russian website, this is how the world sees UK archaeology).

Bottom left: the finder with a trophy display of a pile of loose piece of metal that were once archaeological evidence. Now they are just a loose pile of artefacts. But he's happy, he'll get his cash reward.

Botrtom right. What we've ALL lost. For that cash reward and the additional money that is now being spent trying to make some sense out of a loose pile of decontextualised old bits of metal.

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