Saturday 11 July 2020

Archaeologist: "A Pragmatic Approach to Artefact Hunting Works and has Benefited the Heritage of the Country Greatly" [UPDATED]

Peter Reavill at work.  
It's bucketing down in Warsaw at the moment so the forest walk is less inviting, but am having an interesting discussion with one of the few FLOs that has confidence in their ability to actually talk to concerned individuals like me. It started when he used the R word ("responsible artefact hunting" - for me that is an oxymoron) but Twitter is not a good place to continue any kind of a discussion. So here's an experiment. At one stage Peter Reavill (on his personal account) said:
Peter Reavill @PeterReavill ·8 min
These are my personal views Paul and I do not speak for the scheme as a whole. I do know that a pragmatic approach works and has benefited the heritage of the country greatly. [...] 
The 'pragmatic approach' (a phrase coined by Roger Bland)  means 'letting artefact hunters get on with it, as long as they show us some of what they find'. Twitter is no place to answer the question that comes to my mind properly, so I invite Mr Reavill to think about what he means and reply in a comment here. I think Mr Reavill has after his 17 years FLOing a fair idea of how to phrase his own personal answer to that question, as an archaeologist like myself.
"has benefited the heritage of the country greatly" [Leaving aside 'country'], serious question, can you (personally) as an archaeologist define 'benefit', 'heritage' and 'greatly' relative to the archaeological record, and not in the language of collectors or loose artefacts?
Will he? FLOs like to pretend they do not read this blog. I will leave aside the question of "heritage of the country" because I believe (as I must  as the author of a blog on the implications of the global antiquities trade) that heritage is not just a national(ist) issue, but I'd like to hear what the FLO-archaeologist has to say about just what metal detectorists contribute to archaeology.

[Rather insultingly], Mr Reavill requested:
"The caveat is that you use this response in the way it is intended rather than to fuel your agenda"
Hmmm. My agenda here is getting the issues talked about openly, and I invite him as a guest writer to share his views with readers of this ('biased' he says) blog. I suspect he's afraid I might say I disagree with him. OK, the deal is this, I will only comment on the things in his reply that I agree with. OK? Less scary?

Mr Reavill, if you answer, since we are talking about European archaeology in the 2020s, in fairness I will warn you that I do not like dot-distribution maps and culture-historical atavism. Also this is not about tekkies merely following the Treasure Act, I am more interested in this PAS thing that is there "to advance knowledge of the history and archaeology of England and Wales by systematically recording archaeological objects found by the public [and] to raise awareness among the public of the educational value of archaeological finds in their context and facilitate research in them". What can you tell my readers about that in the context of the question posed above? 

Update 20th July 2020
I guess that it was all a bit too much, the FLO chickened out of answering, so we never came to see where we might be in agreement  - see here

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