Thursday 20 February 2020

Inside a Metal Detectorist's Home in Savoie

Objects SCREWED TO the wall in a French
artefact hunter's home (France)
A communication from the Ministère de la Culture DRAC Auvergne - Rhône-Alpes,  Pillage d'un site archéologique à Aiguebelette en Savoie (13th Feb 2020) describes a raid by the regional department of Archaeology of the DRAC Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and the Department of underwater and underwater archaeological research assisted the National Gendarmerie on the home of an individual suspected of engaging without authorization in the detection and removal of archaeological and historical objects from the archaeological record. What they found is illustrated by a photo of objects displayed as trophies (without any labels identifying where they came from), and if you look carefully you can see the iron objects (covered in some unknown shiny material) are actually screwed to the wall (!):
Durant cette opération, des milliers d’objets ont été saisis et sont désormais sous scellés. Ces objets sont presque exclusivement métalliques et datent des périodes de l’âge du Bronze (2100 avant notre ère) à nos jours. Ces objets ont été extraits de sites archéologiques et ce lien essentiel avec le contexte archéologique qu’ils caractérisaient a été irrémédiablement détruit. En l’absence de cette connaissance de leur origine, quelques-uns de ces objets conservent une information archéologique intrinsèque ou une dimension esthétique, mais beaucoup ont perdu toute valeur archéologique ou muséale. Des pans entiers de connaissance du passé ont ainsi été perdus définitivement et la conservation même de certains de ces objets a été mise en péril par leur extraction du sol et des conditions de stockage inadéquate.  
And for British 'leavers' who did not pay attention in school, that's: "Thousands of objects were seized during this operation and are now under seal. These objects are almost exclusively metallic and date from the Bronze Age (2100 BCE) to the present day. These objects were extracted from archaeological sites and this essential link with the archaeological context which they characterized was irreparably destroyed. In the absence of this knowledge of their origin, some of these objects retain intrinsic archaeological information or an aesthetic dimension, but many have lost all archaeological or museum value. Whole sections of knowledge of the past have thus been lost permanently and the very conservation of some of these objects has been jeopardized by their extraction from the soil and inadequate storage conditions.
Most of the objects shown in the accompanying photo of this weird (and, I would say, rather unaesthetic) installation seem rather to be Early Medieval or later. There are also natural history specimens, shed roe deer antlers, minerals (is that Wieliczka salt?) and possibly some ethnographic collectables. This has nothing to do with 'researching the past', but everything with display.

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