Saturday, 4 April 2020

Economic Slump Will Hit Heritage



The coronavirus pandemic could trigger a global slump bigger than the Great Depression of the 1930s, a closely watched international survey suggests (BBC 'Coronavirus: UK among economies risking record slump' 3 April 2020).
Manufacturing and services sectors in key geographical areas, including the UK, US and the eurozone, saw record falls in activity during March, according to Purchasing Managers’ Index data. The UK figure, dropped from 53.0 in February to 36.0 in March. Readings below 50 indicate contraction [...] Andrew Wishart, an economist at Capital Economics, said the PMIs were probably underestimating the scale of the economic fallout.
It remains to be seen how the tourism industry will recover, if we do not totally eradicate the virus (which at the moment looks a bit unlikely in the near future), any travel, anywhere, is going to be a problem in years to come. Therefore heritage solutions that are based on notions of 'cultural tourism' really need rethinking. Also the very globality of the spread of the Virus and the fact that it cannot be dealt with within single-nation units - but globally - may even lead to a rethinking of nationalisms as well, and thus notions of a national cultural heritage.

In the age of economic depression, how long will Britain be able to afford a PAS and Treasure ransom system? Especially without EU money to help bail them out. We'd better start thinking how to deal with this, before we allow Treasure Hunting to overwhelm us.

Iraqi Antiquities and Organized Crime


Tom Westcott 'Destruction or theft? Islamic State, Iraqi antiquities and organized crime'
This report examines evidence of looting by IS in and around northern Iraq’s Nineveh governorate. Considering claims that IS not only stole exhibited Iraqi antiquities, but also carried out illicit excavations to plunder new, undiscovered treasures, the report re-evaluates the organization’s [...] organized looting for profit – as an example of 21st-century organized crime. The report also considers evidence of the onward flow of stolen Iraqi antiquities, and seeks to establish the most likely routes along which stolen artefacts were moved from [al ISIL]-occupied swathe of territory into neighbouring countries. It considers how [ISIL] transferred artefacts to other organized criminal networks, en route to long-term storage facilities, collectors and global marketplaces. The demise of IS as a territorial entity [...] means this topic has, by 2020, largely fallen off the radar. However, with countless artefacts from Nineveh still missing, and Iraqi archaeology experts alleging that IS members excavated important historical sites for their treasures, some of these plundered antiquities are now moving through different rungs of organized transnational criminal networks as they head towards collectors of global antiquities and other marketplaces, rendering this an ongoing organized crime.This report also highlights the need to raise awareness of such thefts in an effort to ensure that global collectors and auction houses are alert to Iraqi antiquities of potentially suspect provenance and with links to terrorist activities entering the global antiquities marketplace in the forthcoming years and decades.
Download the report here 

Detectival


After a lot of criticism of  the organisers of the (very) commercial 'Detectival' artefact hunting rally by us (but apparently not the PAS), the fields of Henley on Thames, where it was due to take place from today, will be empty. Metal detectorists from goodness-knows-where will not be spreading pathogens in the name of "herd immunity" or collectors' rights.

Meanwhile the organisers of last month month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, which went ahead with 60,000 participants despite coronavirus concerns are now being criticised.
The Guardian has also been contacted by a relative of a 65-year-old man who is currently receiving treatment in intensive care following a positive test for Covid-19. He believes he was infected during a business meeting with a contact who had been to the festival and also subsequently tested positive for the virus. “I would say that Cheltenham should have erred on the side of caution,” his relative said. “I think they should have made their own decision and not be passing the buck. “I understand that they were acting in accordance with government advice at the time. However, the government was subsequently criticised as well for not acting quickly enough on this [...].”
Sound familiar?  So, I wonder how the NCMD campaign to get tekkies to self-isolate at home rather than traipsing around the countryside during the UK's belated lockdown are going?

So lives were saved by the criticism that made the organisers rethink their gauche stubbornness. The other effects are noted by conservation group Heritage Action :  (One thing to be thankful for this weekend, 4th April 2020):
450 acres of "very interesting and historically rich land" along the banks of the River Thames near Henley will NOT now host a massive international commercial metal detecting rally this weekend. So no coachloads of overseas treasure hunters, no puzzled expressions from the landowner or PAS about why the number of found items seems low, no sudden glut of vague eBay descriptions of "old finds from Yorkshire", and no items of British historical significance with their associated knowledge quietly taken away to Belgium or Latvia.
Maybe it is time to look at the whole idea of commercial Treasure hunting in Britain, as it is clear that a huge amount of harm is being done by current 'policies' (I use the term loosely).

Friday, 3 April 2020

At Times There are no Physical, Ideological or Temporal Boundaries to Humanity


Dr. Kameliya Atanasova: here is a 14th c Egyptian du'a against (the) Plague for protection of oneself, kin, property, and children from pestilence and scourge. It was to be ideally read daily.


"In the name of God, all Merciful, ever Merciful. My God, I seek refuge in you from the blistering plague and its mighty affliction of self, family, wealth, and children. God is greater, God is greater, God is greater than what I fear and guard against. God is greater ..."

She gives the history behind it in the threadCurrently the work is held at Istanbul University's Rare Book Library in Turkey.

Who is Buying this?


Seller azulluna1377 (105 ) from Noblesville, Indiana, United States has an ' Augustus Ancient Roman Empire AR Silver Denarius 19 BC Signis Receptis RARE! WOW' finishing soon. Six bids at the moment. eBay item number:143568631920  "Ships to: United States See exclusions Seller does not accept returns". I cant imagine why these jerks have to write things like "rare" not only in capitals but with an explanation mark, especially as below the puerile "WOW", he makes the attempt to make it look as he's a real professional, listing all the item's attributes (but in fact merely repeating himself)
Seller assumes all responsibility for this listing.
Up for sale is a very rare Ancient Roman Empire AR Denarius Emperor Augustus. This coin celebrates the return of the standard of the fifth legion to Rome. This was uncovered in an actual archaeological dig! Own a piece of history!
Roman Imperial Coinage Catalog Number: Unknown[...]

Emperor Summary
Augustus (Latin: Imperator Caesar Divi filius Augustus;[nb 1] 23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) was a Roman statesman and military leader who became the first emperor of the Roman Empire, reigning from 27 BC until his death in AD 14.[nb 2] His status as the founder of the Roman Principate has consolidated an enduring legacy as one of the most effective and controversial leaders in human history.[1][2] The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana. The Roman world was largely free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, despite continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers and the year-long civil war known as the "Year of the Four Emperors" over the imperial succession.
(and quite a few annexations, here and there). The latter narrativisation - undeleted footnotes and all is ripped from Wikipedia. Instead of telling his buyers what they can all read for themselves if they can use a computer, maybe this dealer might like to reveal something of the collecting history of this item. Which "actual archaeological dig" was it found on, and why then did it end up on the market? Crooked archies? Names, dates?

Now, interestingly, his past customers are not all that impressed by his "professionalism". He's been getting quite a few negative feedbacks, but eBay is not bothered in checking whether its true:


I think there are one or two that don't, to my eye, look 'right' while others, including ones labelled fakes by the feedback leavers don't look (as far as the poor photos allow us to see) all that bad. I'd like to see them in the hand. Note the Roman SIS 'grot' of Licinius that has been suggested is fake. But I'd draw attention to the bidding patterns on a lot of this dealer's coins, a bit ... um... 'characteristic'. I think somebody should take an interest in a dealer that declares he is selling material taken from an archaeological project archive. What's going on? 

University of Helsinki uses Information from Looted Material to Try to Look Relevant


An attempt at an (using the term loosely) "archaeology has relevance - really" exposition from the University of Helsinki ANEE ("Centre of Excellence in Ancient Near Eastern Empires" - in what?). In front of neat rows of books colour-matched to their clothes, Dr. Caroline Wallis and Dr. Tero Alstola discuss what they think ancient Near Eastern empires can "teach" us about migration. This is a highly patronising and politicised presentation that one feels was, in reality, made to deflect criticism from recent criticism of the use of looted material by one of their researchers:
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Posted on You Tube 27th March 2020 by UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI 27 Mar 2020 39 views•
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This is their blurb:
"Throughout history migration has played an important role in the development of different cultures and empires. In this video, two postdoctoral researchers from the University of Helsinki – Dr. Caroline Wallis and Dr. Tero Alstola – discuss migration as a factor in the development of the Ancient Near East during the first millennium BCE. They explore the types of migration and the effects it had on both people and empires. [...] 
Actually what they do is produce a rebuttal of modern neo-fascist nationalist claptrap, which is fine, but not when modern political rhetoric is camouflaged as "what science tells us".

I was irritated by using here the as part of the basis of this propaganda the statement that it is based on (0.34) "a lot of sources, it is not  something that archaeologists have discovered like settlement pattern[s] and changes in them, but also a lot of textual sources on migration" - then mentions "clay tablets" and then gives a plug to his book. Dr Tero Alstola (and its nice to put a face to the name) is the guy that handled and published the Al-Yehudu looted clay tablets. Indeed, they are not a source found by archaeologists, but made available to him from the looting and destruction of precisely the other types of archaeological evidence his studies of dug-up material should be complementing, rather than replacing.

I do not suppose he'd be very supportive of a geneticist suggesting we grind up unread unbaked clay tablets to retrieve hair that may be preserved in them so we can classify the DNA of the people making them.

This is hardly cutting edge stuff. Using migration as an explanation of historical and prehistoric change is one of the original sins of the historical sciences. We have a völkerwanderungszeit/ Migration period at the basis of European identity. The process of agricultural colonisation (and thus migration and cultural interactions)  is well documented by archaeology, settlement geography and written sources (in archives not dug up) in central and eastern Europe - and I'd guess if you looked into it, in Finland too- from the 13th to 19th centuries.* You don't actually have to go tell-trashing to talk about it.

But I think that is not what is happening here. The research question was not first formulated and then the researchers said to themselves: "now where can we get some tell-trashed evidence to examine this?" Rather, the opposite happened (and this is exactly the same process involved as with the "research done" using PAS data): "we've got this heap of tell-trashed stuff, now what the hell can we do with it?" ("I know, let's make it look as if what we do is really relevant to the modern world!")

The University of Helsinki assures us all that they "do genuinely encourage discussion of the ethics of research". Jolly good, let us do that. But it seems to me that this video is an attempt to do the opposite, to defect attention away from the fundamental issue of the source of the research material used here to promote the political point the two participants are so obviously trying to promote. Looting and protection of the historical environment, the and no-questions-asked antiquities trade and private collectors participating in it are also political issues, and ones that I hope the next ANEE videos properly address.

And to be clear, I - being a migrant myself - am in no way opposed to the points these two are making about migration, just its unfortunate format and setting. .


* Medieval Europe really is a much better analogy to discuss migration and its effects, I presume they have medievalists at the University, don't they? and when we do look at it, what the evidence shows does not always conform with the generalisations these two are drawing from it. Teutonic Knights, German settlement in towns (the Hanse too), Jews resettled in central Europe, the Dutch settlers, Scottish protestants - all ample material with a lot of detailed literature. No need to trash any foreign sites to discuss this. 

Thursday, 2 April 2020

FLO Slow


Now the FLOs are sitting on their backsides at home, and not having to deal with members of the public, they can catch up with that backlog. Like the hoard of axes that Gordon Heritage and Andy found in a field and posted a video of them hoiking without making a detailed record of findspots. Now is the FLO's chance to get them online in all their glory. After all, they were reported back in October 2018. So where is their public record? What is the reason for the delay?
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Bronzeage Axe Hoard small 7,821 views 6 Sep 2018 Ironhearted Gog

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Helen Geake on Archaeology vs. Metal Detecting


DigVentures 'Time Team' talk online:
Time Team's Helen Geake on Archaeology vs. Metal Detecting
DigNation 20 tickets are now on sale: https://digventures.com/projects/dign... Once upon a time, archaeologists frowned upon metal detecting. What was wrong with it? Why were so many against it? And why do so many archaeologists embrace it today? In this talk, Helen Geake traces the fascinating history of the developing relationship between archaeologists and detectorists. Slides available here: https://www.slideshare.net/DigNation/...
"This talk was given at DigNation, a crowdfunded festival organised by DigVentures and Sir Tony Robinson in honour of beloved Time Team archaeologist Mick Aston. Learn more at https://digventures.com/"

Slides, nothing revelationary, the same old stuff, Derrynaflan chalice, Salisbury hoard, Icklingham bronzes, Wansborough. Basically if you were putting together a talk on this twenty years ago, these are the cases you'd have used then. Twenty years ago. So that was 20 years ago, and now? Things have moved on in 20 years, Jimmy Saville does not now host Top of the Pops. There have been papers produced, for example by David Gill and Sam Hardy, about why collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record is still a problem. There is a RESCUE document setting out its views on why they 'frown' on what is now happening, not 20 years ago. This PACHI blog, Heritage Journal, Conflict antiquitiesAncient Heritage (and a few others) are full of cases where what metal detectorists do is highly problematic.* Why are they not in this talk, just some ancient old case from 20 years ago? Perhaps just a supremely lazy way to get out of thinking a bit about what some archaeologists are saying about the archaeological effects of Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record, and the relationship between archaeology and artefact collectors? 

Indeed, what kind of a question is "what WAS wrong with Collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record?" A lazy one that dodges current issues. And they want you to buy tickets to listen to her answer.

Obviously she's going to go for the "plough damage" argument (slides 18-25). She's going to go for the "wotta lotta stuff we got - and a lot of its very shiny" theme (slides 28-30). She does not call a certain controversial piece of metalwork the "so-called Crosby Garrett  helmet" - why?

Looking at these slides I get the feeling that the answer to the question "What was wrong with it? Why were so many against it? is going to be a lazy "because nighthawks" (slide 11). Hmm. Is that really "it"?  Slide 32 is a bit of puff for the facadist "Institute of Metal Detectorists".

Slide 37 illustrates Ms Geake's known views on what she calls "accidental losses", that raise a WHOLE load of questions when you are dealing with the items brought along to a PAS FLO for recording - given what we actually know about what finds they take and what they know the FLOs are not going to bother with. These are not "accidental losses" (in the past) but an accidental accumulation of collectables that is a small proportion of a larger number of unreported objects. This is just completely bonkers.

"And why do so many [British - the rest do not] archaeologists embrace Collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record today?"  My guess is that few of them have sat down and thought it through properly to the end, just got excited about all those "high value" goodies, rather than what they represent.

* PACHI has written about cases like Lenborough, Holborough, Holt, Bellingham, Licking Doggie (Gloucestershire) hoard (and here at Christie's) ,  Dunelme hoard’, Simon Wick's shop, David Williams' brooches, the disappearing hoard (shhhh), the Laindon summerhouse find, the Alexandrian tetras, and many many more.... 


Seizing the Brownies in Turkey


Turkey brownies
Interesting text by Sam Hardy putting the recent Turkish news reports about police seizing obvious fake artefacts: 'Fuelling of an illicit market and financing of political violence in Syria, feeding of propaganda around the world', Conflict Antiquities 2nd April 2020. 
I missed this one earlier: David Knell 'Leather books from Turkey' Ancient Heritage, 13 March 2019

Narrativisation of things


Some Instagram narrativisation from Lara Maiklem ('London Mudlark')  @LondonMudlark:


I see the PAS is doing its  job as usual. Some coin tourism here: finds.org.uk/Nicomedia (something wrong with the text display here, or is it my computer?).





Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Warsaw, Street Art for the Times



A mural on Tamka street in Warsaw pays tribute to medical staff. "Not every hero wears a cape," it says.









Self-Proclaimed "Centre of Excellence" Critiqued


Michael Press has a lengthy, interesting, sharply-phrased but well-supported thread on twitter on Tero Alstola's arguments about the ethics of handling looted cuneiform tablets. It starts here and concludes:
Assyriology and other fields that study the past will continue in their failure to address the ethics of working w/ unprovenanced material, because so many scholars in these fields do not take ethics discussions remotely seriously.
It would be interesting to read the response of that "Centre of Excellence" in Helsinki. But I do not think we will.

Irresponsible Collecting Comes Unstuck



Such irresponsible collecting “is a crime
against 
 culture and knowledge of immense proportions—
as the facts unfolding under our eyes do prove.”  - Roberta Mazza 


The Museum of the Bible had this
cuneiform  tablet featuring the Babylonian
Epic of  Gilgamesh on display. Photo courtesy
of the Museum of theBible.  

After years of pressure to return potentially smuggled artefacts, US collector Steve Green is returning 11,500 antiquities from his "biblical art collection" (sic) to the governments of Iraq and Egypt ( Sarah Cascone, 'Amid Scrutiny, the Museum of the Bible’s Founder Will Return a Staggering 11,500 Artifacts of Dubious Origin to the Middle East', artnet.com March 30, 2020). 
Questions about the provenance of Green’s $30 million collection, which he began amassing in 2009, have plagued the museum for years. In 2017, Hobby Lobby returned 5,500 smuggled Iraqi artifacts and paid a $3 million fine as part of a settlement with the US government. [...]  Green is now returning an additional 5,000 ancient papyrus scraps and 6,500 ancient clay pieces because their provenance cannot be verified, prompting concerns that they could be looted or stolen.  [...] The Green family “poured millions on the legal and illegal antiquities market without having a clue about the history, the material features, cultural value, fragilities, and problems of the objects,” said Manchester University papyrologist Roberta Mazza [...]. 

The Sting in the Tail of UK Culture Minister's Praise of "Responsible Treasure Hunting" [UPDATED]


Amidst the Coronavirus emergency, the UK’s newspapers are reporting that a total of 81,602 artefacts were recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) of which 1,311 were declared as ‘Treasure’ under the definitions of the 1996 Treasure Act’. at the launch of the Treasure Report, Culture minister, Caroline Dinenage, is quoted as saying that said it was brilliant so many items were going on display in local museums. “Each one of these valuable discoveries tells us more about the way our ancestors lived and I want to congratulate all those who played a part in helping uncover more about our shared history". This jubilation was tempered by the next part of her announcement that did not get such extensive coverage in the tabloid press. It reads:
"It has come to the notice of Her Majesty's Government that there are a substantial number of unprincipled individuals who are not following this example and are just filling their pockets at the expense of the common historical heritage of everybody. My government has decided to take action against the perpetrators. The financial year that ends on March 31, 2020 will see a reassignment of public money from the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which will now go to setting up more regional rural crime units to deal with looters. I would like to thank the staff of the Portable Antiquities Scheme for the excellent service they have so enthusiastically provided over the years. They can be proud of the massive amount of information that was saved, and will share our frustration and disappointment that despite all their efforts, this was just not enough."
The Government released this morning a White Paper containing the full text of the new 'Act to Amend the 1996 Treasure Legislation and to make fresh provision in relation to archaeological material found in the territories and waters of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland' (31st March 2020) and outlining future action that will be taken. Most of this follows the provisions that were outlined in a recent public consultation (Revising the definition of treasure in the Treasure Act 1996 and revising the related codes of practice). This is in line with current negotiations concerning handling of cultural property in general connected with Brexit.

It is about time.

UPDATE 2nd April 2020
Of course, thirty-five people yesterday realised that this was an April-fool post. But the question remains, why?



Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Torah and ring seized by Turkish security forces in the eastern province Muş


Mus (blue)  is well away from the
area where the 'brownie Torahs' 
have turned up in the past
This is getting to be beyond a joke, and one wonders what lies behind this (Daily Sabah, 'Turkish police nab 3 suspects trying to sell ancient Torah for $1.25M', Mar 25, 2020)
Turkish security forces in the eastern province
Muş arrested three people trying to sell an ancient Torah for $1.25 million. After receiving a tipoff, gendarmerie personnel went undercover as a buyer and caught the perpetrators. During the raid of the houses and cars of the suspects, 25 antique coins, a ring, a metal detector and a clay vase were seized, a statement from the gendarmerie said. In recent years the seizures of ancient books in Hebrew and Torahs being sold illegally have been commonplace.
Yes they have, but not a single one of the cases where the photos have been released is even a tiny bit authentic. They are atrocious fakes, not even looking at all like a real old manuscript. I would be very disappointed to hear that anyone had gone to a Turkish jail for a cultural property offence on the basis of the seizure of crap like this. Also you might be suspicious when you read the same story, time and time again, they seem to always seize "coins" and de rigeur a "metal detector" ... as if that were a tool for "going equipped"... (no comment needed from me...). What actually is going on? Are these people being framed?

Now look at this Torah and ring. I do not know the script, but the ring looks more like something churned out for eBay by those workshops in Thailand that do a nice line in atrocious 'cylinder seals' and awful 'Sassanian intaglios'. The patina comes from a cess pit, which is why the guy is wearing ill-fitting plastic gloves to handle it.  And the Torah... I consulted this with my cat, who seems to know a bit more about the world than the provincial policemen of deepest darkest Turkey. My cat thinks this folk-art "Torah" looks nothing like any Hebrew manuscript that he has seen in his nine lives. He rather thinks the squiggles embossed in the leather look like mouse entrails, or at least a pretty pathetic attempt to fake Arabic cursive. I think my cat is right, and I cannot see why, even if the policeman can't get it, a journalist would not see it.

I would like to know more about why Turkish fakers (and I am sure these are made in Turkey and not Syria) think that old manuscripts, apart from being crudely-bound codices, are made of leather and that leather is always very dark brown. Leather books? It does however put me in mind of a certain group of very dark brown leather forgeries of the Dead Sea scrolls.

I'd love to see that "vase".

UPDATE 3 April 2020
David Knell has been doing some more digging and found some photos of that vase and... looks OK to me. Old, probably, ancient maybe (I don't know what folk pottery in the region looks like). The coins are also illustrated and look mostly to be late Byzantine pieces, but what is interesting is that they are in such varying condition that they look more like items bought on the market rather than fresh dugups.  What is going on here?

More interestingly David looks at the "Baphomet" imagery of one of the latest pieces and raises a rather disturbing question (Leather books from Turkey - a political exploitation of antisemitism? Ancient Heritage Friday, 3 April 2020)





Monday, 30 March 2020

On eBay Today



eBay  /Antiques/Antiquities/ Item location: UK Only/ British Antiquities  - 5,838 results

eBay  /Coins/ Coins/ British/ Item location: UK Only / Hammered (Pre-c.1662) 4,045 results

eBay  /Item location: UK Only / metal detectors/ second hand/ 252 results

Let's see what effect the CV19 lockdown and people not being able to work has on these figures. Will we see more ('subsistence') sales of surplus artefacts and machines and will people buy them?

Sunday, 29 March 2020

The Covid-19 Crisis and Metal Detecting" (Part 1)


"I was out on Sunday and in the entire time
I was out, the greatest social interaction I had 
was with the petrol pump....." probono Superhero Member

What do we find when we scratch below the surface of "responsible detecting"?

Take a look (before it is deleted, as I bet it will be when you start taking a look), at this thread on "Detecting Wales" that a reader has pointed me to. It is an absolutely stunning display of everything that is wrong with a lot of metal detectorists in the UK. Read all of the posts (where detectorists declare their right to pursue their hobby at will, despite the lockdown and despite an NCMD ban) and consider whether there is an inkling there of a notion of social responsibility. None at all.

What these self-absorbed people think is the point of the lockdown is to prevent THEM catching the virus. Note how they mention having gloves and masks to protect THEMselves. They will keep away from other people to protect THEMselves. Artefact hunting is all about "me...me... me".

Yet the 120nanometre virus can be spread on those gloves and masks. It can get inside those gloves if they take them off for a moment to wipe their nose.  It can be, or be left, on the petrol pump, and door and floor of the petrol station. It can be spread on their clothes, on their cars, on their shoes. It can be in their hair, or on their pricks if they had a pee out in the field (with or without the gloves). It can be on the drinks can and mars bar wrapper bought at the supermarket the day before to take out detecting. A five micrometre droplet of infected saliva can be airborne about half an hour. It can be in the high street, in a shop, in their road as they get in their car (or even out in the open, in that time it can be blown quite a distance). CV19 can be on everything, and can be taken everywhere. That is the point of keeping everybody from moving about (see part 2 below).

Since this virus has already shown that in the conditions of our modern life (and even when people are being aware of it and taking care), it can spread, contaminate, infect and reproduce with surprising ease, it should be obvious to the thickest of thickoes that something has to change. And that something, obviously, is not going to be 'Covid-19'.

But then, that's just what the experts say. As we all know, there are a lot of people in Britain who have an inbred distrust of educated people and experts. What do they know, when the bloke down the pub says... ? So what if the government says "stay at home"? "What do experts know?". So we get self-centred special pleading gems like this
I totally agree n8, go on your own, stay away from people, call the farmer before you go so you haven't got to talk face to face and wear gloves while there especially for opening of gates etc... Job done. Actually just reading the latest update from ncmd if you follow the above procedures then your [sic] being as safe as you can and obviously they don't condone it but it's open to interpretation...
What lies behind the facade of "Responsible Detecting"? In a few words, a mass of self-absorbed, stupid, selfish, immature and irresponsible individuals.

One wonders how many of these metal detectorists disregarding common decency actually do live at home alone without a family to think about.



The Covid-19 Crisis and Metal Detecting" (Part 2)


What Lies Behind the Facade of "Responsible Detecting"? In a few words, a mass of self-absorbed, stupid, selfish, immature and irresponsible individuals.

Adapted from Wikipedia
You'd think the message of 'Strict rules have been placed on people's personal movement to limit the spread of coronavirus" would be pretty easy for even the thickest thickoes of British society to get into their heads. Well, the British metal detecting community seems to have more than its fair share of the latter. Whenever you see what they are doing and saying, there does seem in Britain to be in general a connection between IQ-deficiency and owning a metal detector.

Slowing the spread of the virus involves staying at home and only leaving it when absolutely, and maintaining social distancing and precautions to prevent carrying it from one place to another at all times (both in and out of the home). Not really all that difficult to grasp.

Astoundingly, the UK has only just now started a lockdown, but its 100th case was on 5th March, and  began its lockdown only on the evening of 23rd March (18 days after the 100th case), by which time the number of cases was already 6650 (with 335 deaths), and going up sharply. I think the graph says it all. Too little too late, that curve is going to shoot up, threatening my family and friends unlucky enough to be affected by Boris Johnson's government's mismanagement of this crisis over there.

It's pretty obvious why Britain has a lockdown. The bit above the second grey line on my figure is what has been happening when the British public were "taking it on the chin" and doing their thing while 'being careful' (following government advice 16th March 2020). That period where people were roaming about set the scene for what is now happening. Disaster.

For the 14 days after the lockdown, that curve is going to continue to exponentially go up, because of all the people infected before it (in the period between 16th and 23rd March). What happens to the number of case, the number of deaths depends mainly on how sensibly, responsibly and effectively the Brits (all of them) can slow the spread of Covid19 now.

As far as I am concerned, metal detectorists are just part of that British society, nobody exceptional that should have any grounds to consider they have special "rights' and an exception should be made for them and their exploitative hobby. Society's safety now depends on them and their actions, sense of responsibility and self-restraint just as much as it does my sisters and cousins who are staying at home with their families and not driving around the countryside to loot the past.




UK Treasure Hunter Flaunts NCMD Ban


With regard to my comments on it being irresponsible to go out metal detecting when there is no ability to record what is found, or react if a Treasure is revealed that needs archaeological attention, it is gratifying to see that the National Council for Metal Detecting has dug itself out of its hole and (Tuesday 24 March 18:13) issued a firm:

CORONAVIRUS: IMPORTANT
MESSAGE TO ALL NCMD MEMBERS

In the light of the Government's latest instruction that people are only allowed to leave home for a few "very limited purposes" (shopping, exercise, helping others, work) the NCMD is now instructing all members to stop metal detecting WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT until further notice. This instruction applies whether you are proposing to detect individually or in a group. FAILURE TO ADHERE TO THIS INSTRUCTION WILL BE INTERPRETED AS BRINGING THE HOBBY INTO DISREPUTE AND MAY RESULT IN YOUR MEMBERSHIP BEING WITHDRAWN I hope that I can rely on your understanding and support during this difficult period.
Clive Coleman NCMD Chairman
Up North, in Lytham St Annes, they probably do not give tinker's about "bringing (sic!) the hobby into disrepute" or understand what the government is instructing. Thus one of them (though we do not know if Andrew Ellis is a paid-up NCMD member - but I guess we are going to find out) is gleefully boasting on Andy Fudge's metal detecting Facebook page that, despite it all, he's outside scouring the soil for collectables. And look what has found: "Two hallmarks in two hours plus a nice little buckle and farm tokens". Two hallmarks means precious metals, doesn't it? Hmm. Ban, what ban?




Just Say No, it's About Responsibility, Not "Reputation"


For some reason I find hard to understand, RESCUE ('the Trust for British Archaeology') sees fit to put on their Facebook page an announcement from the National Council for Metal Detecting banning its members from travelling about to go metal detecting during the Coronavirus crisis  (artefact hunting is not archaeology, archaeology is not just artefact hunting - duh). Anyway, what caught my eye in this was that underneath it, an archaeologist comments:
Benjamin Westwood
I can't tell you what a relief this was [sic] amongst FLOs!
Good on the NCMD for taking the responsible course of action.
Why can PAS staff just not say "no, I'm not meeting you"? Meeting metal detectorists is not, by any means, absolutely necessary. They should be staying at home and so should the FLOs. If "responsible detectorists" were, actually, responsible, they should not need any National Council to instruct them in how to do that (but if you look at the announcement, you can see that what the NCMD is engaged in is an image-saving exercise - "interpreted as bringing the hobby into disrepute"). 

What part of limit the spread of coronavirus do these people not understand? Pathetic. 

Vignette: Pete the Heritage Pigeon from Bloomsbury confused about the 'reputation' of artefact hunting.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Excavated Naqada Artefact on eBay?


I have just spent the last few weeks looking into online sales of Saharan Neolithic ("Green Sahara") lithics and writing them up. It's part of my efforts to stop people referring to Collection-Driven exploitation of the Archaeological Record as "metal detecting". The Saharan material is particularly interesting for a number of reasons - not least  because post-African Humid Period desertification has meant that many of the sites exist as surface scatters on deflation surfaces. There also was an opportunity to make a number of points about "old collections" and the antiquities trade. One of the latter was the difference between the way different parts of the past of the Nile Valley (which runs through the desert) were treated in collecting. The pre-dynastic cultures of the Nile overlap with the "Green Sahara" period, yet are poorly represented on the market (apart from those luscious black-topped wares that appear in the London auction houses with an annoying regularity). There are just five items of the Naqada culture on eBay at the moment. Four of them are being sold by three dealers that... well, dealers.

The fifth is interesting. It is being sold by someone called Mocha Mika (Mocha's Estate Finds  (1119) - 100% Positive Feedback) from San Antonio, Texas, United States. The seller says: "We are a family who enjoys finding, bartering and learning about interesting vintage stuff. It's a great way for family bonding". Hooray. The things on offer range from tat to several quite nice and interesting vintage or antique items that have been curated in Texan homes. But what caught my eye was the only antiquity they are selling at the moment: Antique Naqada I Predynastic Egyptian Basalt Bracelet c3900-3500BC Rare!.
This item is in very good antique condition. This item was excavated, and said to be from the Naqada I period, beginning of the 4th millenium BC (3900-3500BC). It is made from heavy and dense basalt stone. It is still showing some evidence of original polish. It is about 4.4in in diameter and 3in opening diameter, and less than 1in thick. PLEASE SEE ATTACHED PHOTOS FOR BETTER VISUAL DESCRIPTION.

Provenance: Ownership History Available
This item came from the estate of a prominent collector from San Antonio, TX. As providence (sic!), we have a copy of an email when this collector purchased the item in 2004.

Price:US $999.90 (or $49 for 24 months) 
Looking at the attached photos (and I wish they'd not be so lazy and actually describe what they have in front of them but the potential buyer has not - and some of us use METRIC measurements, eh?) we can see that this is not 'basalt stone' because that does not have white veining. So, we really do not know what this is made of because the seller clearly does not either. I' be interested in Mika saying more about the inside of the object, those toolmarks. (Later) ancient Egyptian technology tended to use a tubular drill to make things like this, and it seems from the photos, that this has been carved out and the rough toolmarks left inside. Interesting.

What, actually does it mean "excavated"? By whom, when and how did it end up in Texas? To be legally excavated and exported, it would have to have been digging going on before the Egyptians stopped partition of finds, so that is some time before the early 1920s. Was it? Where, precisely, was it before the "prominent collector from San Antonio TX" bought it as late as 2004? Mika cannot say she (?) 'has the ownership history' without that information.

But if this was a 'grounded' pre-dynastic object, with a proper excavated provenance and proper collection history, this would be a great thing to add to a collection... IF. Has it, in fact? The price, I do not know, but suspect that if one were to look through some old Christie's and Sotheby's catalogues, they'd be selling something like this (with the proper documentation of course) for quite a bit more. So it'd pay to buy from Mocha Mika on eBay. Wouldn't it?

Here though we have the problem. Mocha Mika did not post a photo of that documentation as part of the sales offer (though precisely THAT documentation is part of that sales offer and part of what one is buying). So we do not know what that email said, who it was from, and in what capacity they were operating (dealer, consultant, manager of the excavating institution's archive?).

Because here, how and when it was excavated becomes a crucial issue.

The problem is that this arm-ring (for is is not so much a bracelet) is probably not pre-dynastic Egyptian (and this is where the credentials of the alleged 'excavator' are important).  Very similar items, of the same white-veined grey stone - Hombori marble, were produced in the ethnographic past (and possibly still today) in Burkina Faso and were worn by members of the Mossi, Fra Fra groups as well as Tuaregs. Here are three that were sold as a group by Dorotheum for half the price of the Texas example. There is also an interesting Internet Archaeology article about their manufacture and use that the family-bonding estate pickings Texan family missed in trying to find out about what they've got: Anne Garin Carmagnani and Yvan Pailler (2009), 'Stone Bracelet Production in Mali', Internet Archaeology 26. And on eBay you can get some decent examples for around 30-40 dollars, so a fraction of what Mocha Mika is offering the "Naqada" one for.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Come on ICOM, Sort Yourselves Out


From ICOM

What about private collecting of archaeological artefacts (PAS)? Is it just the "selling" that ICOM has problems with?

It is collecting that is the motor of looting, the middlemen and dealers just fill the gap between!


Thursday, 26 March 2020

Dealing with the Antiquities Trade Virus


1970s dinosaurs Missing the point,
  Telegraph Bob Moran cartoon, March 21
"In the battle against looted antiquities, modern technology and expert knowledge are combining to return ancient artefacts to their rightful owners" witters the Times (David Sanderson, 'Hi-tech hunt for looted antiquities' Thursday March 26 2020).
Egyptologists from the British Museum have identified about 4,500 antiquities thought to have been illegally trafficked, as part of a new tactic to keep track of items for sale online. They have put together a database for law enforcement agencies that deploys sophisticated software to keep tabs on “ephemeral” websites that pop up for a matter of days to sell artefacts and then disappear. [...] "there are increasing moves to sell antiquities directly using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms.”
since 1995 when direct internet trading of antiquities just exploded the old market, he means? The adjectival phrase 'high tech' means here "using the Internet"...

There is a very serious problem in conceptualising the antiquities trade in my view. In fact, there are  two. The first is that we are stuck in thinking of the trade in portable antiquities as it was in the 1960s, when the 1970 UNESCO Convention was written. This necessarily refers to the pre-1970 market, and it is where we are still conceptually, even though that market and its clientele have changed immeasurably since those days. Duh.

Secondly, focusing - as here - on the issue of repatriation (also a child of the 1970s) has overtaken expounding the broader point about portable antiquities collecting. This article in a 'serious' British newspaper does not criticise the trading of loose portable antiquities in itself, just the bits of it that we see as 'illicit' (judging by 1970s criteria). This is *exactly* the same as the "as long as we're/they're not nighthawks" argument condoning collection-driven trashing of the archaeological record in the UK. "As long as it's not illegal, it's OK by us". No, no it jolly well should not be. Wantonly trashing the archaeological record should be something that nobody should be OK with.

So I say that, like with any other kind of a virus, we cannot just treat the nastiest symptoms of the antiquities market, but we need to stop its spread - for example by social isolation of the people that buy and collect this stuff. Remove public acceptance of artefact hunters and collectors, and do it now.  STOP writing the feelgood stuff and tell the antiquities market as it is. Nasty and damaging.

Arty Social Distancing Didn't Work



Infected participants criticise TEFAF Maastricht fair’s decision to open in March as at least 25 positive cases of coronavirus have emerged among exhibitors and visitors.

And the "responsible" metal detectorists thought they could get away with doing a rally in ten days from now?

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Antiquities Trade and Global Inequality


This is an interesting presentation: Jeff Desjardins All of the World’s Wealth in One Visualization (Visual Capitalist January 16, 2020). It is not easy to see where the major antiquities sales and collectors fit on this scheme, and also where the major sources of the looted artefacts are coming from. The antiquities trade feeds of inequalities.


Chart from How Much
If you are wondering where the other countries are the yellow segment at seven o'clock is the answer...  To put this in a bit of perspective, from my point of view the Poland I see around me is 'doing all right' (OK, I do not get out in the countryside much these days), and look where it is.

Here's that wealth mapped out in a more conventional form:

Source HowMuch.net, a financial literacy website

Monday, 23 March 2020

MoB DSS: the Dealers







Or who is there among you, who, if his son
asks him for bread, will give him a stone?

Matthew 7:9


The only DSS are ones that
can be documented as having
come from a specific set
of contexts (Picture, Live Science)
The provenances pages of the Museum of the Bible gives the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls that the Greens bought.
I - Four purchased from Dr. Craig Lampe in November 2009: SCR.000120 (Exodus), SCR.000121 (Psalms), SCR.000122 (Leviticus?), SCR.000123 (Instruction).
II - One purchased from Michael Sharpe Rare and Antiquarian Books in February 2010: SCR.000124 (Genesis).
III - Seven purchased from William Kando in May 2010: SCR.003170 (Daniel), SCR.003171 (Jonah), SCR.003172 (Jeremiah), SCR.003173 (Numbers), SCR.003174 (Ezekiel), SCR.003175 (Nehemiah), SCR.003183 (Micah).
IV - Four purchased from Andrew Stimer in October 2014: SCR.004742 (Leviticus), SCR.004741, SCR.004768, and SCR.004769 (the latter three are unidentified and were not included in the Brill volume) 

 The Kando family fragments were among those first suspected of being fakes by Kipp Davis.

The first purchases were from the US dealer Greatsite.com in Goodyear, Arizona. This is a very oh-so-American setup, read about it here: "In 1987, the International Director of the World Bible Society, Dr. Craig Lampe, decided to create a very special company....". By Divine providence they 'got a great URL' and set about their aim of cornering the global market in rare and antique Bibles.  Hmm. 

Michael Sharpe Rare and Antiquarian Books, Pasadena, California sold one fragment, but does not seem to have much of a web presence. 

Andrew Stimer also does not have much of a web presence, he is reputedly  'one of the world’s foremost collectors of biblical antiquities and classic historic books and manuscripts'. But Brent Nongbri has a few more details (Another Part of Scott Carroll’s Manuscript Network June 17, 2019)
See now: Andrew Stimer to Return Five Papyri to the EES

The MoB page blithely goes on "Unfortunately, little is known about the provenance of these fragments because most sellers did not provide such information at the time of the sale . . . they are not connected to either excavations of Bedouin, and several new collections of this type face the same problem In actual fact thee is no 'problem'. If the items are being offered that it is claimed just appeared out of thin air about 2009, 2010 or 2014... then what is the buyer to make of this? They certainly cannot be claimed to be 'grounded', nor can they be claimed to be of licit origins. They are just floating bits of old tat.

They are not even trophy tat. Their trophyness comes from them being not just some tatty old fragments of parchment found somewhere, but actually BEING a find FROM a specific group of items deposited in a certain place (at a certain time). If that cannot be documented, quite simply, they never were Dead Sea Scrolls.

MoB: Surely, part of the fallout of trying to 'bear witness' by buying trophy antiquities to display and impress (and to 'prove the Bible real')... when the artefacts turn out not to be what you believed (had faith) they were - calls that faith, that belief and your gullibility into question.


Sunday, 22 March 2020

Heritage Action: "Britain abandons recording finds due to COVID19 yet metal detecting continues!"


There are lots and lots of archaeologists in Britain, most of them worried about their own arses at the moment with "the Virus" lurking out there. But why is it again Heritage Action that does their thinking for them ('Britain abandons recording finds due to COVID 19 yet metal detecting continues!' Heritage Journal 22/03/2020)?
PAS has stopped accepting finds for recording. No-one can blame them as many detectorists haven’t been social distancing. They’ll resume recording sometime “in the future” which signals a bleak outlook for recording: most finds don’t get reported already, even fewer will be after a year. So Britain is back to where it was more than 20+ years ago with an army of artefact hunters combing the fields and all the knowledge being destroyed. Except that now Britain’s laissez-faire policies have allowed the army to grow three times larger.
The responsible thing to do in such a situation is to desist, but, facing the closure of offices and workplaces to allow self-isolation through home confinement like in the rest of Europe, metal detectorists seem to be treating this as a hobby, using their extra leisure to rip up even more of the past in an entirely unmitigated fashion ("asked on the largest detecting forum if the virus would curtail their activities scores of them have just said no and that they’ll go out detecting far more!"). HA concludes:
Scandalous doesn’t begin to cover it, it’s legal unmitigated knowledge looting and it should be prohibited while PAS is inoperative – let PAS, Rescue, CBA, BAJR, ALGAO, EH, HE, APPAG et al publicly say so if they agree, which they surely do. And straight away please. They should ask the Government to instruct detectorists to stay at home.
But will they?  If last year 1300 Treasure finds were found, that's 3.56 of them daily. Each day that detecting goes on in England and Wales, the more it costs the public purse to pay the blighters a Treasure Ransom (to STOP them flogging them like the Leominster gang did). Cumulatively it's millions of pounds a year - though I have yet to see official figures on precisely how many. That's millions of quid of public money that could be spent elsewhere, and as the Coronavirus Crisis hits the British economy and society in the coming weeks and months, that money could be better spent elsewhere.

Friday, 20 March 2020

'Cutting Edge British Archaeological Literature' Reviewed: When will British Archaeology Grow Up?


"The overriding theme of the book is the
fascinating relationship between  Roman 
and Iron Age communities and the unique  
Romano-British material culture that this produced." 
Eine Hervorragend Nationale Wissenschaft,


Amy Brunskill has written a review for Current Archaeology of the PAS fluff-book: John Pearce and Sally Worrell, '50 Roman Finds from the Portable Antiquities Scheme'. I've not got the book and am unlikely to get it, but this review tells me all I need to know about it. It all sounds very 1930s/Mortimer-Wheelerish.

We are told the book's got "a range of carefully selected artefacts in a well-illustrated, brief volume, which highlights the way in which the material record vividly reflects life in the past". In other words, the PAS "data" (sic) are used merely as illustrations of the "history" that we know of from other sources, rather than being used as a source in their own right (the latter is, is it not, what archaeology is, innit?).

We learn "the authors have chosen a wide variety of both exceptional and everyday objects that reflect the interactions between Roman and Iron Age cultures in Britain [...] Some of the objects chosen encapsulate the conflict, both cultural and physical, between the different cultures present in Britain". Cultures? In other words, this brand of British archaeology is still stuck in the culture-historical mould of Kossinna and his ilk? What sophisticated post-processual theories and buzz words do they apply to the "data" to investigate these interactions from these loose geegaws?

Look at this:
the Crosby Garrett helmet, a stunning and unusual example of military equipment used in parade drills (see CA 287), represents a clear ceremonial display of Roman power. This contrasts with the linchpins belonging to Iron Age chariots of the sort reported to have been used by the Britons against Caesar, which reflect the opposition with which the Romans were met
Is this archaeology or 'Jackanory'? With reference to the above, first of all, I wonder if this fluff book for the PAS considers the very real questions about the findspot of the so-called Crosby Garrett Helmet. This does not “represents a clear ceremonial display of Roman power” in the context in which it seems to have been found, quite the opposite. Also by the fourth century (the date of the layer through which the pit in which it was allegedly buried was dug) was there a need to demonstrate "Roman power”?

The next irritatingly text-driven (and text-illustrating) comment is also vacuous claptrap. Well, when Caesar venit, vidit, and vici-ed in his four-week second invasion, there was not much of a resistance, by his account, they submitted to him.

Now, who is this "Roman history in fifty PAS-recorded Finds" for? Take for example the book A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps, who was that written for? Is that not a book written, first and foremost for stamp collectors? So who is "50 finds" written for, if not artefact collectors? The latter are a mere minority of the public that finance the PAS. And is there arnything in "fifty finds" that would convert a collector to an archaeologist or is it all just a jumble of object centred glib narrativisation? What archaeological aims lie at the basis of its conception? Any?

British archaeology, surely you can do better than this in your (public-funded) archaeological outreach. No?

And the cover design is crap.


"A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps"


Chris West 2013 A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps
Stamps tell a story―and Chris West's book is the unique, fascinating tale of Great Britain told through its stamps.
Hailed by The Times of London as "a splendid reminder of the philatelic glories of the past," A History of Britain in 36 Postage Stamps tells the rich, layered, and breathtaking history of England through thirty-six of its fascinating, often beautiful, and sometimes eccentric postage stamps. West shows that stamps have always mirrored the events, attitudes, and styles of their time. Through them, one can glimpse the whole epic tale of an empire unfolding. From the famous Penny Black, printed soon after Queen Victoria's coronation, to the Victory! stamp of 1946, anticipating the struggle of postwar reconstruction―A History of Britain in 36 Postage Stamps is a hugely entertaining and idiosyncratic romp, told in Chris West's lively prose.
On their own, stamps can be curiosities, even artistic marvels; in this book, stamps become a window into the larger sweep of history.

The author apparently also produced "A History of America in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps"

PAS Recording Artefacts from Home


In the thread on a metal detecting forum near you: 'Important advice from the Portable Antiquities Scheme on arrangements to reduce CV19 risk (Thu Mar 19, 2020), we read the tekkies' concerns
BAMBAM » Thu Mar 19, 2020 10:26 pm
What about finds we have left for recording ... when do we expect to get them back? Regards. Brian
and got the reply that 'returns may take a few months till things return to normal' (Wuntbedruv: "I wouldn't expect until all this is over, which could be 12 weeks").
Spearhead » Fri Mar 20, 2020 8:07 am
It's understandable and on the positive side I am hoping my FLO will now be able to catch up their back-log whi[l]st working from home with no new finds to record. Previously standard finds recording have been taking 4 to 6 months and I have been limited to recording less than 30 items a year.
This (a) means that they've been finding more than 30 recordable items a year (significance: this is close to the figure that lies at the basis of the HA Artefact Erosion Counter that everybody denies represented what tekkies can find in a year) and (b) we have gone from "tekkies show us all but we can't record all", to "artefact hunters are judging what's important". That probably explains why the PAS database is in general skewed towards coins and pretty pieces. The "data" are not of archaeological characteristics, but of what a collector judges significant...
hat tip: Nigel Swift

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Bloomsbury Bloomer


In Mark Brown's cop-out article ('British Museum says metal detectorists found 1,311 treasures last year' , Guardian Tue 17 Mar 2020 ).
The British Museum on Tuesday announced that [...] In total, 81,602 finds were recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme. [...]”
But then, that's not what their own search engine says, so what is the truth, and why are there two of them? 



Responsible Detecting Diktat from Bloomsbury



PAS to its partners on Responsible Detecting:
Important Advice on Coronavirus
Following government advice, Portable Antiquities Scheme staff are unlikely to be able to meet in person with finders to take in finds or undertake other outreach work. Most Portable Antiquities Scheme staff, including Finds Liaison Officers, will remain contactable by email, so therefore can advise on the recording of finds or the reporting of Treasure. It might be that we ask finders to hold on to their finds (keeping a good record of the findspot in accordance with the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal-Detecting in England and Wales) for full recording at a later date.

For new finds of potential Treasure, finders should notify their local Finds Liaison Officer and/or British Museum treasure team (in England) by email, with photographs of the object and full details of the findspot, finders' and landowners' details, and await further instruction.[...]
But what this should actually read is
Important Advice relating to the present situation.Following government advice, and in order not to create dangerous situations and avoid spreading disease, Portable Antiquities Scheme would like to notify you that staff are unable to meet in person with finders to take in finds, react to Treasure discoveries needing action or undertake other outreach work. Therefore we respectfully ask our responsible partner metal detectorists not to go out unnecessarily, travel around the country and refrain from any digging up of archaeological artefacts that it is impossible in the present situation to record. Stay at home and label all your finds and get their documentation in good order. Read some archaeology books. Please await further instruction.
and it should be on the PAS home page not the front page of the database. 

Pilferers form Mutant Groups


Readers might remember that a group that was out to loot an important Iron Age site - on being challenged by an alert FLO - decided to change their name to escape the bad publicity being associated with their group (Southwest Metal Detectorists, Gone Overnight: Changes Name to "The Detectorists Metal detecting uk" [UPDATED]). Well, I do not know what the latter has been up to, but they seem to feel the need to take on yet another identity. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

BM, One of the Highlights of a year of British Metal Detecting, Provenance: "dumper truck"


If dealers Grebkesh and Runn tried to use
"from a dumper truck" as a provenance...
David Sanderson, 'Treasure island: metal detectorists enjoy bumper year' Telegraph March 17 2020
A 1,100-year-old brooch wrenched from history by a tipper truck and dumped as part of a landscaping scheme is one of the highlights of a year of British metal detecting. The early medieval silver brooch decorated with zoomorphic beasts was discovered by a metal detectorist near Great Dunham in Norfolk during 2019. It was then established, however, that the soil it was found in had been transported from another, as yet unknown, part of the region. “The circumstances of the discovery are odd,” Michael Lewis, who is in charge of the Portable Antiquities Scheme on behalf of the British Museum, said. “It is an interesting brooch though and could have links with the Pentney brooches in the museum’s collection.”
So the PAS records artefacts said to have been found in Palestine, 1847-1915 coins in a piano, and a loose object rattling round in a dumper truck that - like an artefact on eBay - could have come from anywhere. So whatever happened to the dream of the Founding Fathers that this expensive Scheme for puffing artefact hunters and collectors was supposed “to raise awareness among the public of the educational value of archaeological finds in their context and facilitate research in them”? What context is a dumper truck?


 
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