Sunday, 12 January 2020

The Archaeological 'Values' of the PAS Database (XIII): Artefact Hunting on Archaeological Sites, What is a "Rubbish Box"?

In the public record resulting from a selfish collector exploiting archaeological sites to have collectable items we read:
Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

Small Romano-British cu-alloy stud with enamel-decorated head. The stud has a ca. 15/16mm long shaft which tapers towards one end where it terminates in a sharp point. Its cross-section is circular towards the end and square towards the head. The head itself has two circluar [sic] moulding, seperating [sic] a central circular section from the outer rim section. While the centre-piece was filled with bright red enamel paste, the rim was coloured in blue. Most of the blue enamel is missing now.

This find comes from a metal detectorist's 'rubbish box' and its original provenance is unknown. However, the finder assured me that it is a 'local find'. He kindly donated it to the Museum of Lancashire, Preston, for our artefacts handling collection.
Subsequent actions Current location of find: MoL
Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder
Can't be both, can it? What nonsense is this? A "rubbish box" containing archaeological evidence? A "rubbish box" containing unlabelled and thus decontextualised archaeological evidence? What is "rubbish" in the context of so-called "citizen archaeology"? Who decides if a piece of archaeological evidence is "rubbish evidence" and what is not, in the case of the person who extracted this item from an archaeological context not actually having the foggiest from which site it came, let alone from which part of which site, and in association and relationship to what?

The record was created 13 years ago, and is still awaiting verification and a spelling check.

But it's one of "940000 records" folks. The fact that this is absolute crap as any kind of archaeological information (giving us nothing you'd not get from eBay) is for PAS-supporters immaterial.

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