Monday 6 April 2020

Helen Geake on Archaeology vs. Metal Detecting

Here is the video announced here:

 Helen Geake on Archaeology vs. Metal Detecting
Posted on You Tube 5 Apr 2020 by DigVentures

Earlier I went through the slides and commented on them, having heard the talk they accompany, I think it more or less corresponds with what I said. I found the presentation a bit muddled. I found it extremely irritating that she says that concerns about the damage artefact hunting was doing to archaeological sites and more attention to archaeological evidence was just some perverse political stance of the "1970s" (and a lefty one too she suggests). The phrase "political correctness" jars in this context.

The whole thing was supposed to be about Prof Mick Aston's evolving views on Collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record. Except that's not what we get. Its mostly how to use a metal detector and that a metal detector can find metal and... that's apparently good. There was a clip from an early Time Team programme (Bawsey 1998) Tony Robinson sets Aston up to pronounce something about detector users that I'd not noticed before. Is this the first time that the trope "there's that very very small minority of what are really robber treasure hunters, who are busy pinching bits of  our heritage and flogging them off" appears in the public domain? Yet the Portable Antiquities Scheme had been going for a while now and Denison and Dobinson's report was already gathering dust. It seems that Mick Aston failed to notice that in fact not by any means in the 1990s, as in the 2020s that what this is about is not the demonised tools but the activity is collecting. And it seems to me that twenty years on some of us are still talking about "metal detectors" and "metal detectorists" rather than artefact hunters and collectors. And that is the root of the problem, lazy rhetoric.


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