Wednesday 3 June 2020

Time Team Professor Miffed by Guardian Article

Prof Carenza Lewis @CarenzaLewis · 4 g. has her own take on Sirin Kale's recent article on knowledge theft:
This @guardian article on #metaldetecting carried out illegally (without permission/reporting treasure) and/or immorally (without reporting) is a depressing read. Partly because the un-evidenced comment about The Time Team [TV programmes] is not balanced by the point that in an information age, knowledge about potential sites is easy to come by. And rightly so - but it's a paradox of 'knowledge for all' that some will abuse online resources. And partly because the tone of the article, especially at the end, is surely nothing if not an inducement to have a go - why otherwise include this cr*p about brooches "winking in the soil" and bracelets "warmed on the body of a woman now turned to dust" ??! Whether or not the writer is right that there's a "romanticism" in metal detecting, they've done a great job of propagating that notion...
I don't really see how she can read the article and come to that conclusion. Possibly her feelings were hurt by the reference to the Time Team reality show - which she was on the production team of. What however is being reported is that "privately, police officers express irritation that the show can be used as an idiot’s guide to the choicest places to nighthawk". I would say that this is something Prof Lewis should have out with the members of the police interviewed rather than the reporter who says what they told her. Is it true that by watching a programme that tells its viewers how the archaeological sites that were dug were found, and why holes are dug in one place and not another on them , wannabe diggers can learn.... how to find archaeological sites worth digging, and why they should dig holes in one place and not another on them. It's a little bit ironic for her to say" in an information age, knowledge about potential sites is easy to come by. And rightly so [...]", yet the PAS collecting information from the public *hides* precisely that information. So, "not rightly so" according to Professor Lewis. I wonder if she's had it out with Professor Mike Lewis who is the one gatekeeping this information.

Far more damaging than Time team in romanticising the hunt for pieces of the past with metal detectors and the 'colourful characters' that go artefact hunting was Britain's Secret Treasures (a programme in which PAS and the British Museum were intimately involved) [video of trailer]. I do not recall too many British archaeology professors joining me in protesting that at the time. There's a book.
For hundreds of thousands of years our ancestors have walked these isles burying, dropping and throwing away their belongings, and now these treasures lie waiting for us, keeping their secrets until we uncover them once more.[...] From hoards of Roman gold and Bronze Age drinking vessels to tiny Viking spindle whorls and weapons from dozens of wars, all manner of treasures are described here. Some help prove that our ancestors were alive over half a million years ago, some saw their modern-day finders receive a generous reward, all provide an insight into the wonderful, dynamic, colourful history of our nation.
Professor Lewis castigates the author for writing lyrically of the things metal detectorists find, yet is that any different from this book, published by the British Museum? Since when has the past been deemed no longer to be romantic? Finally, in what way is:
glinting relics of our common history, salvaged from the earth. Yours to find, if not to keep.
any more an encouragement to go artefact hunting illegally? I simply do not follow the professor's logic.

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