Thursday, 31 December 2020

Update: The Artefact Erosion Counter Suggests Massive Mitigation Failure

Just for the record, the Revised Artefact Erosion Counter that is here (amalgamating the figures of Heritage Action and Hardy) ticked over artefact 8 760 847 at midnight on 31st December 2020, at the end of the second decade of the 21st century and the opening of the third.  PAS database records "971,530 records containing 1,516,359 objects"


Morons' Paradise (UK Tekkies Struggle to Understand)

"the treacherous shysters who dearly wanted
to see Britain’s Tekkies shackled to feudalism". 


Over in Boris's Bonkers Britain yesterday a tekkie proudly wrote the following ("Onwards and Upwards"):
At 11:00pm on 31st December 2020, is when Britain finally frees itself from the European Union’s dictatorial grip and becomes a self-governing sovereign state once more. The UK’s detecting community – for one – can wave good-bye to the EU’s heritage bureaucracy [...] Though the UK has finally slipped its bonds, we must not forget the plight of Europe’s Tekkies still languishing under EU oppression. Cyprus, Malta, Poland, and Germany for instance, are perfect examples of restrictive EU legislation. Tekkies in the UK truly well rid.
I really do not understand the logic here. Bri'in has "won it's sovrinty" and gained "freedom" from "orl that restrictive EU legislation". For the tekkie the "perfick example of that" is that (in terms of antiquities legislation one presumes) Cyprus, Malta, Poland, and Germany who are "still languishing under EU oppression". 

He starts the list with two former British colonies, that freed themselves from British oppression and created their own antiquities laws.  In the case of Malta, the Antiquities Act of 2002 replacing the old colonial laws of 1925 (the Brexit-loving-tekkie probably is ignorant of the fact that Malta has been an EU member country only since 1st May 2004). In the case of the antiquities laws of Cyprus, the basic legislation dates from 1964 four years after the nation gained independence from Britain (and well before the formation of the EU  - Cyprus too has been an EU member country only since 1st May 2004). The northern part of the island is under Turkish control, Turkey is not a member of the EU.

Germany, the tekkie should know, is a federation of lands, each of which has its own legislation on artefact hunting, Bavaria for example is very liberal, Hesse less so. Again, these are created by the local government of the Lands themselves, and neither Federal not EU regulations affect them unless we are discussing trafficking of dug up antiquities). 

Now, Poland... I wonder what this UK tekkie knows about Poland? As it happens yesterday I was putting the finishing touches to a draft book chapter on "Hobbyist Searching for the Past and Archaeological Damage in Poland" that of course talks about the legislation.The Polish legislation was created in 1918 after the country gained independence on the breakup of the partitioning powers as a result of WWI. As a sovereign state, it decided on a certain legislative path. This was maintained in the 1962 revision under the Communists, and basically (in terms of how it affects artefact hunting) the existing Act (2003) created in a sovereign country is as most Poles would have it. Anything that parallels EU recommendations connected with artefact hunting was in fact already present in that legislation - right back to the 1918 form. So really, the metal detectorist really has not the foggiest what he's talking about.

Just as one suspects he had not the foggiest what he was voting for in the Brexit referendum. 

What "EU’s heritage bureaucracy" does this idiot think Britain is ditching? He has possibly not really taken on board that the main reason why collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record (i.e., looting) has the public support it does is because of the existence of the PAS. And that, dear reader, he should know was created in response to the recommendations of the Valletta Convention (full title 'Convention for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage of Europe (revised)', Council of Europe Treaty Series no. 143). Without that, it is very doubtful that the expensive PAS would have come into existence, and now Britain is out of the EU, there is no real political reason to maintain it. I bet the tekkies cannot give any real example of an EU law that "now-sovrin Bri'in" no longer has to honour. Like this bloke talking to LBC host James O'Brien:
But, actually, as far as Europe is concerned: 
Tekkies in the UK, truly well rid.


 

Multi-purpose Access Agreement turns out Useful for Hoard Hoiker

Last September, a British birder who’d stopped on the edge of a farmer’s field to watch a buzzard and a pair of magpies stumbled onto a trove of 2,000-year-old Celtic coins worth an estimated £845,000 (Isis Davis-Marks, 'British Bird-Watcher Discovers Trove of 2,000-Year-Old Celtic Coins' Smithsonian magazine Dec 31st 2020).

As first reported by Julian Evan-Hart of Treasure Hunting magazine, the unnamed bird-watcher—who is also an amateur metal detectorist—unearthed the stash of some 1,300 gold coins in a field in the eastern English countryside. Dated to between roughly 40 and 50 A.D., the cache is the largest hoard of Iron Age Celtic coins found in the United Kingdom since 2008 [...] “I saw the glint of gold and realized it was a beautiful Celtic gold stater, which made me sit down in sheer shock,” the birder tells Treasure Hunting, as quoted by the Daily Mail’s Luke May. “I then spotted the second coin two feet away and rushed home to get my [metal detector].” Upon his return, the man found that his detector produced a “really strong” signal, a sure sign that more treasures lingered below the surface. Digging down about 18 inches, he extracted a copper vessel brimming with gold coins [...] he filled two large shopping bags with the cache of coins and returned home. Then, he promptly contacted local authorities to report the find.
What a shame that he did not report it in time for the hoard to be properly excavated and not hoiked blind in a hurry by a bird-watcher. Although he found them in a container he seems to have tipped them loose into carrier bags. Two large carrier bags full of loose artefacts hoiked from below plough level are not archaeological information. Are the PAS going to condemn him for his actions?


Huge Interest in Responsible Artefact Hunting Blog

 

A while ago I decided to put together a resource of the things the PAS was not telling artefact hunters and collectors about "Responsible Artefact Hunting". It took several weeks work for one guy to do (the PAS employs 50 people) and I put it up this summer. I sent an email to every PAS staff member notifying them that it was up and I'd appreciate their comments. Two replied. One said he could not cope with the blog format in which it was set up and that if I sent the whole lot as a text, he'd willingly comment... a second (not a FLO) said she also was having problems accessing it, but would like to make some comments. So those two got the whole lot as a single file (which took me just under a day to make). One other FLO sent a message rudely informing me that she wants no contact or communication from me...  The rest did not reply, and I have had zero comments from anyone. None of the readers left any comments.* And there matters stand. Here's the blog: https://archaeologywassat.blogspot.com/

On 31st December 2020, the statcounter tells me that this blog has not exactly attracted much attention in the archaeological or artefact hunting world: All time 1739 page views, Today 0, Yesterday 1, This month 60, Last month 131. 

I think this rather illustrates several points that I have been making all along:

1) what is called "responsible detecting [artefact hunting]" falls far short of what actually CAN be legitimately called that,
2) The term is just a meaningless facade (to justify inaction),
3) Everybody knows that,
 

 * There was one "Tease me until I’m begging for it Click here and Check me out i am getting naked here ;)" but I did not click as I find most metal detectorists in the nude tend to be pretty repulsive.


Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Living Off Immoral Earnings, Until Britain's Mutant Virus Forces Halt

Sob story from Let's Go Digging:
Paul Lgd Howard Admin • 22 m
[The pay-to-dig rally at] Wilsford is cancelled as [it has] gone into a tier 3 folks (sorry). Until further notice their will be no more LGD events as we can’t keep up with the changes now. Won’t be long before we have to look at selling our house due to not being able to earn the morgage if I’m honest, never mind bills. Stay safe all and hopefully LGD will still be here and allowed to go to work again one day in the future. We will just be another self employed small businesses the goverment forced to close down
The sovereign government of a sovereign country where the 'people' took back control. Note the "allowed" and blaming the government, this is about the health of his clients. I imagine there are a lot of British brothels closing down for the same reasons, but I do not know how many of us can find sympathy that somebody can no longer pay their bills from immorally earned income, and has to think about getting a proper job, rather than profiting from ripping up and selling off Britain's archaeological heritage. I think there are many that care about the heritage that sincerely hope that unprincipled grabby firms like LGD do finally go under and an end is put to this disrespectful way of treating the archaeological record.. 

Have a look at this: Let's Go Digging West Hendred (somersetmetaldetecting.co.uk), look at the chaotic crowd looting the fields, I make it at least 104 people there. Underneath: 287 photos of antiquities, and how many of those can we find in the PAS database, and how many just disappeared into people's pockets? Is this in any way "responsible detecting"? Is this in any way a moral manner to treat the archaeological heritage? 


UK Detectorists: Who'd Have Suspected, eh?


Paul Howard's FB profile picture now
A few hours ago I discussed (post above) the sob-story from the commercial pay-to-dig artefact stripping rally organiser that their profits were down due to the rapidity of spread of the Coronavirus as people move about Britain, and the decisions taken by the government to try and curb it. They announced that - nine months into the pandemic - they were having to suspend their activities. Some of the replies are pretty revealing. It turns out that Paul Howard and his customers are thick covid deniers. What a surprise. Paul Howard is moaning that he's had to suspend his "business" charging folk a lot of money to randomly strip areas of the archaeological record of diagnostic finds:
For a virus that’s killed around 900 people in U.K. that never had any underlying health issues,
For a virus that most people don’t see,
For a virus that is so bad every death since March is signed off as covid,
For a virus that’s that bad most people know nothing about that’s apparently bad everywher,
Problem is those who don’t believe are bombarded by people who know someone who died and was put down as covid saying how dare we, They know someone, we all know people who have died in recent months and all put down as covid, FACT is what happened to people dying of cancer and heart attacks and strokes? What happened they cured it
That text does not make a lot of sense (see below) and I'm not going to discuss it. Note the attitude that the experts have got it wrong and Mr Howard and his "common sense" knows more about this from the internet and tabloids than any epidemologist in Britain, and that any attempt to convince a bereaved person that their departed did not die as a result of Covid infection fails only because of "political correctness". But it goes on... Mr Howard then asserts that he has visited a hospital (how? In the UK, are they letting people just wander in from the street? If so, no wonder the infection's spreading so fast): "that’s what woke me up, Shocking empty, seen lots of things


("seen lots of things"? Eh?). Mr Howard then goes on about a video he's seen from Gloucestershire showing an empty hospital (not wanting to destroy the allure of a conspiracy theory, he did not bother to check what the explanation of that is, and again are they just letting people wander into the wards from the street? How utterly unprofessional!). He mentions another video of ambulances having a break in Kent as evidence that covid is a hoax. He adds:
Paul Lgd Howard
And as I see thousands of people on our events since March Not one request by government for track and trace as no one tested positive, my group and members on my events tells me more than most people, I see you all and most of you do not believe in this virus that’s a fact (most of you) and most of you tell me and joe your areas are as they was, nothing or no one infected
So, it's all a conspiracy then, innit? And most metal detectorists don't belive there is a virus. Ryan Tweed also reckons: "Something fishy about it that's for sure [...] Boycott the media and the government and it will go away". Member Celtic John wants to "put the Great back in Great Britain", is a New World Order conspiracy believer and is hopeful this will all be exposed soon:
Paul and Jo, sorry to hear that theyve done it again we know what they doing all this for there NWO. Hang in there mate till the SHTF.  

Monday, 28 December 2020

Looting and fake Antiquities

                         
Cultura Consulting @Cultura_CP · 45 min
There's a close connection between fakes and looting. Fake antiquities can only enter the market when uncertainty about provenance is an accepted part of the trade. Looting not only provides fresh authentic objects for the market, it also helps maintain this necessary uncertainty
 

EU Regulation 2019/880 of 17 April 2019 on the Introduction and the Import of Cultural Goods


                           dirty hands                       
On 28th December, 2020, Article 3(i) of Regulation (EU) 2019/880 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the introduction and the import of cultural goods comes into force. This legislation is based on the premise that there is an urgent need to curb the trade in illegal items when the “pillaging of archaeological sites [...] has now reached an industrial scale.” “Together with trade in illegally excavated cultural goods, [it] is a serious crime that causes significant suffering to those directly or indirectly affected,” the text continues. “The illicit trade in cultural goods in many cases contributes to forceful cultural homogenisation or forceful loss of cultural identity, while the pillage of cultural goods leads, inter alia, to the disintegration of cultures.” This law has not been met with widespread enthusiasm among commercial art dealers, some of whom feared that tightened trade regulations would negatively impact the industry.
Vincent Geerling, chairman of the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art, told the Art Newspaper last year that “[the] proposal is based on inaccurate information… members of the European Parliament have shown a distinct lack of understanding of, and curiosity about, the issues at hand as they press ahead with measures that would greatly damage the international art market.”

I think Mr Geerling is being disingenuous, the  EP understands very well how the market operates in its current form and how it needs to change to prevent looting and smuggling. Mr Geerling of course knows that too. The question is, how long will we create laws to serve the needs of this type of trade, and how long will the trade fail to conform with the sort of laws that are needed to clean it up? 



Sunday, 27 December 2020

UK Metal Detectorists Blithely carry on


Observer:
Scientists call for UK lockdown after rapid spread of Covid-19 variant Stricter measures needed as cases of mutated virus, linked to UK travellers, are reported across globe.
UK metal detectorists:
"Oo needs effing experts?" (As they carry on doing their bit to spread the virus, travelling between areas on their selfish quest for archaeological artefacts to pocket.)


Friday, 25 December 2020

25th December 2020

 

.                                                                                                      born a refugee

I would like to wish all my readers a joyous and peaceful Christmas, full of everything that is good. With it, a sincere hope that the coming New Year, and new decade, will for all of us be prosperous, satisfying, full of  good health and well being as well as interest, adventure and new challenges.


Thursday, 24 December 2020

A Metal Detectorist's Christmas Wishes

             John Howland           
 
         
As their readers are aware, two heritage blogs, this one and Heritage Journal have attracted the attention of artefact hunters in the UK and US, who object to their 'tribe' being written about in less than sycophantic terms. Among the comments made by representatives ('ambassadors' according to the NCMD code) of the metal detecting community are a substantial number of downright abusive and nasty ones.

One of the culprits is a man from Poole in Dorset, John Howland (right). Mr Howland seems to me to have ASPD with an enormous chip on his shoulder and has been the most persistent troll of this blog, spending a large part of his life stalking Nigel and myself, trolling our writings, engaged in a one-man vendetta, apparently aiming to drive us off the internet through trying to make it an uncomfortable place to present our opinions.

Like 99% of metal detectorists in the UK, John Howland will not try to engage with the points made, presenting substantiated counter-arguments, but merely tries to undermine us. He'll attack our "credentials" (for having an opinion), our "morals" (for having an opinion), he'll call us names (a usual puerile tekkie tactic - among other things, I'm "Warsaw Wally", Nigel is labelled "Heritage Harry"), he constantly makes us the butt of his ribald jokes (often lifted from compilations on the internet without acknowledgement of source). Sometimes he ropes in the help of sidekicks from the States (the equally vindictive Dick Stout in particular), most of whom have never read a word I have written. 

John Howland has been doing this now for over ten years, since October 2010 at least, and since then, there have been long periods when barely a week has gone by without his trying something. Since December 2017, he's had a "Detecting and Collecting" wordpress blog. If you search it you'll find that the picture of metal detecting this ambassador to the hobby wishes to present is little more than a series of texts (containing slander, allegations, ridicule, crudity, attacks and downright lies) on the person of just two writers, myself and Nigel Swift. 

Nigel Swift has catalogued just a small part of John Howland's activities 'Heritage Action threatened on two continents' (Heritage Journal 22/11/2012)* Take a look at the sample of the language used. You can see here the evidence that already eight years ago this metal detectorist has shown himself to be a deeply-troubled and reckless individual - and one sees his propensity for stalking his victims and then attempting to compromise their sense of security and their physical safety by widely disseminating personal details about them. So in various forms, among the stuff he's posted online to harass me include the details of two of our home addresses in Poland, the details (address and phone number) of a former employer here, my national security number and a few other details.  

Mr Howland seems not to be sufficiently satisfied by the effects of his previous activities. So a few days ago, among the other nonsenses that he's been harassing me with, he sent a comment to my blog that I did not read very thoroughly before rejecting and deleting it, but I noted it contained the name of the small village I'd spent my teen years in. Obviously he'd not grown out of his obsession with stalking me. Then on Monday (21st December), another comment sent to the same post:
From: John H [mailto:noreply-comment@blogger.com]
Sent: Monday, December 21, 2020 7:55 PM
John H has left a new comment on your post "Irresponsible Movement Between Tiers in UK - Metal...":
You really do spout bullshit. [full address of parents' home] will I hope, be safe... but as for you, well you might find someone who gives a fuck...
Publish          Delete            Mark as spam
Moderate comments for this blog.
There is a total non-sequitur between the two halves of that sentence. 'Giving a fuck' is not an opposite to 'being safe'. John Howland has upped the ante from his previous "we know where you live, and hope you will be safe" to "we know where your parents live, and hope they will be safe". My dad is 90, my mother 87 and have been isolating since the beginning of March. 

I am not going to comment. The reader can draw their own conclusions. Mr Howland and those aiding and abetting him have this time gone too far.  UK police have been informed, and are awaiting a report from the Polish prosecutors.  
John Howland, Freemasons, "John Howland", naked aggression, threatening behaviour, ASPD, Brexit.  
* There is a significant reason connected with my work with illicit antiquities why at that time I was concerned to keep my picture off the internet, and still am.

John Howland, Freemasons, "John Howland", "Dick Stout", "Fay Stout", "Stout Standards", naked aggression, "metal detecting", "artefact collecting", abuse, threatening behaviour, ASPD, Brexit.  

 

It's looted, but it's got "Jesus" on it...

                                                       
 
As usual this time of year the archaeologists are posting artefacts and linking them to "the Twelve days of Christmas" to show that "archaeology is relevant". And once again, their imaginations seldom go further than something dug up by artefact hunters.  Simcha Gross at Penn University exhibits:
Jesus and the trinity invoked on a Jewish Babylonian Aramaic incantation bowl. Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating!
...ובשמיה דאישו דכבש רומ(א) ועומ(ק)א בזקיפיה...
…and by the name of Jesus, who conquered the height and the depth by his cross

This is followed by the usual waffle, with the question of the collecting history of this item totally ignored. According to the publication linked by the poster of this object, the collecting history is "it came up for auction at Christies in June 1997 and was purchased by Mr Shlomo Mussaieff [...] nothing more of the provenance of the bowl is known". It just surfaced in 1997 was flogged off anonymously in Christie's and ended up in a notorious private collection. So why are we discussing what it "says' and not the looting of sites to fuel the trade in illicit artefacts? Or can Christie's now produce the paperwork, missing all these years, that the object has a perfectly licit collecting history and its excavation and transfer of ownership took place in full agreement with the law of the source country? Because that is the only way it should have been sold by them in 1997. So where's the paperwork? 


Egyptian authorities bust fraudulent antiquities trafficking ring

 

Egypt’s Interior Ministry announced on Thursday that it has arrested members of a gang specialized in swindling and defrauding the public through the sale of counterfeit artiefacts (Egyptian authorities bust fraudulent antiquities trafficking ring Al-Masry Al-Youm December 24, 2020). The gang was allegedly busted while preparing to ship the artifacts outside of Egypt:

The country’s Criminal Investigations Department, along with its Tourism and Antiquities Police and National Security Agency identified a gang of five members, two of whom have previous criminal history. Preliminary investigations found that the gang members advertised the counterfeit artifacts on social media, claiming them to be originals. The gang used a villa in the Sheikh Zayed area in 6th of October City, Giza, as a base for their criminal activity. The investigations also uncovered that four customers went to the villa to see some of the offered pieces. A security campaign targeted the villa, and as soon as the forces arrived, they were met with gunfire.
To be honest, I find this whole report spurious, the statues shown seem to be gypsum plaster, as 'social media artefacts' their net value is not great. You don't need a five-man gang with a security detail of another eight men to trade nine plaster casts. The report is inconsistent. What's going on?

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Detectorists Pretending to be "Archaeologists"

  

Archeologia militarna v.2... (43 zdjęć)
Dodany 09 grudnia 2017 19:37:27 przez kruku



Question for the PAS. Is "responsible metal detecting" really just a matter of sticking to the law and filling in your holes? Can we get a better definition of what is meant by responsible treatment of the archaeological resource than your superficial Code of Best Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting (which the majority of UK tekkies ignore anyway)? 

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Research on Galloway Hoard to Cost Additional £1m



  "Citizen archaeology" - blind hoiking, more like
 (Image facebook)
The Galloway Hoard discovered in September 2014 on an unthreatened site by a metal detectorist who had permission to search Church-owned land in Galloway has already cost the public purse millions in conservation, and in buying it off the finder who was in September last year taken to court by the landowner for his gruff refusal to split the £2m reward with them. The hoard has now been acquired by National Museums of Scotland using money raised through with major grants of public money from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund and the Scottish government, but also through more than 1,500 small donations from members of the public who were forced to buy back their own heritage from the metal  detectorist

Interestingly, that finder with a rather inflated feeling of entitlement is now not being named in some of the news reports (Caroline Davies, 'Researchers win £1m grant to unlock secrets of Viking-era treasure trove' Guardian Mon 21 Dec 2020):
Researchers in Scotland hope to unlock the secrets of a stunning Viking-age hoard after a receiving a £1m grant to examine the provenance of the 10th century haul [...] NMS will carry out a three-year project, “Unwrapping the Galloway Hoard”, in partnership with the University of Glasgow, to examine in detail the objects, due to go on display in an exhibition next year. The haul contains an unparalleled range of precious metal and jewelled items, including a rare gold ingot, a unique gold bird-shaped pin and a decorated silver-gilt vessel, the only complete lidded vessel of its type ever discovered in Britain and Ireland. Inside the vessel were beads, amulets of glass and rock crystal, a silver penannular brooch and five Anglo-Saxon disc brooches not previously found in Scotland. Parts of the find were wrapped in fragile textile bundles. Taken altogether, the hoard hints at hitherto unknown connections between people across Europe and beyond, and, according to researchers, it provides a rare opportunity to research and reveal many lost aspects of the Viking age.
Well, I hope the research will address the question of the degree to which those "connections between people across Europe and beyond" really were all that "previously unknown", given that there is loads of literature about it in northern, central and eastern Europe about this (mostly based on hoard finds precisely like this one) going back to the 1860s. Previously unknown to many blinkered insular archaeologists off the coast of Europe, maybe. 

           Fleecing the public                
But look at the irony, the unnamed finder gets 2 million for a few hours work with a shovel and a bleeper in a muddy field, but a multi-disciplinary team of trained specialists has only half that to produce a comprehensive report on the whole assemblage. The Arts and Humanities Research Council has awarded a £791,293 grant  for the project, with the remaining cost covered by the NMS and the University of Glasgow.

Mackenzie Crook moots Revival of UK Comedy Series "Detectorists"

                                                   
 The comedy series "Detectorists" could be set to return after creator Mackenzie Crook gave the strongest indication yet that he wants to revive the BBC Four comedy ('Mackenzie Crook moots Detectorists revival', British Comedy Guide Tuesday 22nd December 2020).
The writer, director and star of the metal-detecting sitcom, which finished after three series in 2017, has previously hinted that he was open to the idea of revisiting the cult show. Co-starring Toby Jones, Rachael Stirling and Lucy Benjamin, it revolves around the lives of detectorists in northern Essex. Appearing on Zoe Ball's Radio 2 breakfast show [...] he confirmed that "it's true, I am kind of thinking of it but I don't have any idea at the moment. "I'm just starting the process of thinking 'yeah, we should get the old band back together'. One last time!"

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Switzerland returns smuggled antiquities to Iran

             One of the bricks           


A total of 49 works of ancient art that had been looted and smuggled out of Iran some four decades ago have recently been returned home with the aid of Swiss officials (Tehran Times, 'Switzerland returns smuggled antiquities to Iran', December 20, 2020 ).
“A collection of glazed bricks, which are attributed to Qalaichi [archaeological site] in Bukan, dating back to the 7th or 8th centuries BC, have been returned home from Switzerland [...] 49 pieces of glazed bricks, which were smuggled out of Iran on the advent of the Islamic Revolution, were recuperated with a great deal of efforts made by the cultural heritage ministry, and the ministry of foreign affairs [...] the cultural heritage ministry was informed in [the Iranian year] 1391 that an Iranian family, residing in Switzerland, was inclined to sell 49 pieces of glazed bricks….
 One has to wonder how it is that a family can for forty years have at home material illegally exported from a foreign country during a period of civil unrest and just decide they will "surface" it on the market and flog it off, thinking nobody will notice. That nobody will notice the lack of documentation of licit origins. It is a shame that it was Switzerland that returned the items and not the (unnamed) family trying to monetise looted art.

Irresponsible Movement Between Tiers in UK - Metal Detectorists of Course [UPDATED]


'Christmas cancelled by surging mutant virus' read the headlines. Part of my family in Britain are in the newly-created Tier Four. They were not planning to meet the other part in tier two on Dec 25th anyway, and now to do so would not only be irresponsible, but against the new regulations that came in today. Yet today Let's Go Digging are holding another Fancy Dress commercial metal detecting rally in Gloucestershire, and two others are also planned and going ahead in Gloucestershire next Sunday and the following Saturday. "Heritage heroes" from Wales and London have had to cancel, but there are still plenty of "PhDs" going

Anyway, as an acquaintance notes, after Britain has finished dispatching mutant Covid to the rest of England, they just have Brexit to get through this weekend, and then they can all have a well-earned Christmas break.
Where the zones are this morning (Gloucestershire in blue)


Update 25th Dec 2020
Metal detectorist John Howland has commented to me "You really do spout bullshit [...] but [...] you might find someone who gives a fuck...". I rather think that this post was indeed about the fact that so-called "responsible metal detectorists" travelling around the country between tiers to go metal detecting are displaying an extreme case of "couldn't give a f**k about anybody else", which is why we see this: 



Fit in yourselves the period when UK metal detectorists were asked to stay inside, and when they started going out again in increasing numbers. 

TAKE A GOOD LOOK at this behaviour, for these are precisely the sort of people the PAS wants to grab more and more millions of public quid to make into the "partners" of the British Museum, archaeological heritage professionals and to whom they want us all to entrust the exploitation of the archaeological record. Take a good look and decide what you think about that as a "policy".  


 

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Egypt demands Italy Extradite Persons Accused of Smuggling Antiquities


Middle East Monitor: The Egyptian government has called on INTERPOL and the Italian authorities to hand over Italian diplomats Ladislav Otakar Sakakal, former consul of Italy in Luxor, and Massimiliano Spunzelli, the economic and commercial diplomatic attaché at the Italian embassy in Cairo on charges of smuggling antiquities. Sakakal was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment and fined one million Egyptian pounds for smuggling nearly 22,000 artifacts into Italy duringthe period between 2016 and 2018. Italy has demanded the extradition of the killers of researcher Giulio Regeni.

Vignette: keeping an eye on antiquities


Facebook Thread about the French looter.

 

Candid reactions of the UK artefact hunting community on a metal detecting Facebook page near you about the story of French artefact hunter Patrice T. and his hoard find declared in Belgium. Eye-opening:

Stephen Pitt [...] what a haul here

Phill Dowdon Poor bloke

Peter Harry Birkett How many years and hours sweating miles walked for this well saved

Colin Ford I can't see a problem, What's he done wrong?

Eoin Siosal Is the issue he found it in france and not belgium as claimed?

Nicholas Ryan If he hadn’t off dug them no one would no they were there not like he was trying to sell them probably just a hoarder 

Justin Critchlow hoarding hoards

Michael Gerstmann  Prob pillaged a not very well protected site, great finds an absolute pleasure to see so much history but the guy has done wrong so cant defend that.

Keith Pay (hoard hunter) I knew a chap a few years back who stole a hoard he did not have a conscience about it at all 

Darryn Maroney It really sucks when the system doesn't allow a civi the opportunity to find treasures and keeps that practice for themselves. Just another sad story of a man been shafted up the arse by bullshit laws so rich wankers can benefit!

The Britexiter mentality here cannot grasp that other countries have other laws and place higher standards on artefact hunters' behaviour than Bri'in's anyfink goes policies (I use the term loosely). 

Comments like "what a haul" and "poor bloke" are the predictable result of not really understanding what "responsible detecting" is other than being nice-sounding polysyllabic words. The use of the phrase "this well-saved" as a noun is a startling mental shortcut. In addition, Birkett's "years and hours (sic) sweating miles walked" is a common justification, artefact hunters have "worked for" their finds (except when they claim that artefact hunting is recreational relaxation to get round lockdown regulations).  Colin Ford on reading the report (though not necessarily thinking about what he read) can't see a problem, and does not know what his French counterpart did wrong. He should read it again, and then apply brain (gently, don't overdo it). Eoin Siosal is equally quick off the mark. For Nicholas Ryan digging up archaeological artefacts illegally as reported here would not be a problem, but only if the finder tried to sell them. After all, he argues, "if the finder had not dug them up, no one would know that they had been there". Mr Ryan seems to miss that nobody knew about these 27000 objects until the police came knocking at his door after being alerted by the Belgians. Secondly what do we "know" about the sites these 27000 items were ripped from now we know that Mr T. had them in his collection?  (Mr Ryan, the answer is: nothing). Michael Gerstmann seems to think like Peter Tompa over in Trump's  USA, the heritage deserves to be looted away if the police don't post a 24/7 guard on every archaeological site in France that may contain collectable items. And in England and wales too, Mr Gerstmann? Keith Pay  knew a man who stole a hoard, he did not say if he reported that crime, instead of boasting about his contacts with criminals.  Darryn Maroney - no words, really.

Vignette: Bowl of stupid for Brexit  

More British Carrier Bag Archaeology. 1,200 Gold Staters

From this month's Treasure Hunting magazine, 1,200 Gold Staters in a carrier bag (dirtdigger1 » Fri Dec 18, 2020 1:01 am)

Reactions of list members rather predictable:
Allectus » Fri Dec 18, 2020 3:09 pm
Blimey! What a haul! £££££££ [emoticon], [emoticon], [emoticon]
A "major contribution to British numismatics" (sic) could be made by the same pile of loose coins on eBay. But that, and Nonnymuss's two carrier bag "haul" give zero information about the archaeology of the site he ripped them out of in September 2020. What kind of feature were they buried in? What relationship has that feature to any other stratigraphy- vertical or horizontal or spatial characteristics of that site? Was the hoard made as a single deposit, or was it added to periodically? 

Friday, 18 December 2020

Flashback: Lorraine : à la Chasse aux Trésors en 2015

Lorraine : à la chasse aux trésors
Patrick TARDIT - « Portrait "J’ai toujours eu cette passion", confie le Lorrain Patrice Traber-SeerL'Est républicain 20 juin 2015
Interestingly, according to Facebook, there was an employee of the conservative L'Est républicain of this name, and among his likes is Maison De La Detection @maisondeladetection. In the article:
"il ne faut pas aller sur les sites répertoriés, les sites archéologiques. Si c’est un terrain privé, il faut demander l’autorisation du propriétaire" [...] "Si on trouve quelque chose dans sa propriété, sa maison, son jardin, tout est pour soi; si on trouve dans la propriété de quelqu’un, la moitié est pour le propriétaire et la moitié pour l’inventeur".
In the past, it seems he found a hoard in Pierreville (Meurthe-et-Moselle).

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Museums Association PAS Fluff


Victoria Miller, 'Treasure finds hit record high amid plans to amend legislation Definition of treasure to be broadened to include ‘significance rather than just substance’ Museums Association 9 December 2020.
Lady's a bit confused:
Treasure finds in England, Wales and Northern Ireland reached record levels in 2019, according to the latest annual report for the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS).
So this is a Treasure Report (Treasure Act Section 12) or a PAS report? The article is mostly fluff. 

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

More Details on "Patrice T"


The unnamed metal detector user facing a court case on illegal artefact hunting comes from the east of France and had "deep archaeological knowledge" (AFP 'Priceless' haul of over 27,000 artefacts seized in France', 16/12/2020). - 11:32
French authorities have seized a "priceless" haul of over 27,000 archaeological artefacts ranging from Bronze Age bracelets to Roman coins that had been secretly amassed by a single person in the east of the country, customs said Wednesday. The seizure of the 27,400 objects was the result of a year-long investigation conducted by French customs, Belgian authorities and the French culture ministry. The hoarder, who has not been named and now faces a criminal probe, had built up the collection for personal and trading purposes, the French customs service said. He had amassed the collection himself using metal detectors as well as what appears to be a deep archaeological knowledge. The man had first aroused suspicion in 2019 when he told authorities he had found almost 15,000 Roman coins by chance on land he had acquired in Belgium. The French customs service then confirmed that this haul had actually been built up through "the looting of various sites in France", it said. The case has now been handed to the judiciary, with the man risking a colossal fine and possibly jail time.
Where is meant? Champagne-Ardenne, Franche-Compte, Alsace, or Lorraine maybe? What comprises "deep archaeological knowledge" in the contexct of finding things? When they allege that Mr T had "built up the collection for personal and trading purposes", did the French customs service actually catch him selling stuff, or is that just a surmise based on a stereotype?

UPDATE 18th Dec 2020

Despite some innaccuracies, Hannah Thompson ('French customs seizes 27,000 looted archaeological artefacts', the Connection 17 December 2020) seems to have more details:
French customs confirmed on Wednesday December 16 that it had seized more than 27,000 pieces of objects classified as “cultural goods”, hidden at the property of a collector from Lorraine. The pieces are “priceless” and of “exceptional quality”, the ministry for culture said. They include bracelets and torches from the Bronze Age and the Iron Age; a rare Gallo-Roman mosaic; thousands of coins from the Roman Gaul era; and belt buckles from the Merovingian era, the medieval age, and the Renaissance. All of the pieces appear to have been illegally dug up from sites across the east of France. The case dates back to October 18, 2019. A Frenchman who had recently bought a piece of land in Belgium told authorities that he had found a treasure trove of Gallo-Roman coins when digging on his new land. [...] The discovery made the authorities suspicious [...] It is thought he was trying to sell many of the objects in Belgium.

 

More on the "Gingelom Hoard"





    Constantinian 'grots' (Agentschap Onroerend Erfgoed)

"A French national, who came forward as the finder of a hoard of Roman coins on Flemish soil, doesn’t appear to be the honest Joe many thought he was. An investigation by the Flemish Agency for Immovable Heritage revealed that the Frenchman had hidden the treasure on his own land in Flanders after it was first dug up illegally in France" (Colin Clapson. 'French treasure trove finder was no honest Joe', NWS, Flandersnews.be Wed 16 Dec).

It was in October of last year that the man revealed he had found an enormous amount of Roman coins on his land in Gingelom (Limburg). The agency investigated the find, but was puzzled by the fact that a foreigner had made such a gigantic find on own land that he had purchased abroad. Moreover, all the coins were now in two buckets in the boot of his car. Nothing had been left in the hole in the ground. An examination of the soil revealed that the coins could never have been dug up here. What initially looked like the largest historical Roman find on Flemish soil soon appeared more like a deception. The French authorities were brought in. They interviewed the finder and he admitted that the coins were dug up illegally in France and he had simply purchased them.
Part of the hoard

The reported findspot was a lie. This is why anyone trying to create a database of reports of such finds should make every effort to verify reported findspots. There have been enough cases of finds "laundered" by being reported from one place when they came from somewhere else. Experts at the Royal Library in Brussels examined them and believe all coins come from one and the same find. For this collector however things got worse, as the "purchased them online" story also began to be questioned:

Further investigation revealed that the finder had 13,000 archaeological finds in his possession that had all been acquired illegally. The suspicion is that the Frenchman had hoped to sidestep French legislation and benefit from the more relaxed Belgian regime. Under Belgian law finders become the owners of all archaeological finds on their land. By reporting a find in Flanders the Frenchman thought he could become the legal owner.
It is the same with finds made in Scotland or Northern Ireland beiong reported as found in England.

See also : 'French treasure hunter discovers mega treasure, hides it and is now accused of looting abroad' NewsBeezer December 17, 2020  


French detectorist accused of looting on vast scale after haul discovered at home

 

                       Some of the thousands of objects found                        
when French officials raided Patrice T’s
 house. Photograph: Douane Française

A treasure hunter who claimed to have dug up 14,154 Roman coins in a Belgian field has been accused of being one of the greatest archaeological looters in European history (Daniel Boffey, 'French detectorist accused of looting on vast scale after haul discovered at home', Guardian Wed 16 Dec 2020)

The Frenchman, identified only as Patrice T, told Belgian officials that he found the relics by chance with a metal detector at two sites close to Gingelom, a Flemish town 40 miles east of Brussels, in October last year. In France, metal detectors are only allowed to be used for scientific research, but in Dutch-speaking Flanders they can be used for personal searches. The coins were legally declared as the finder’s property. [...] French officials believe the man, who is awaiting trial, had been exploiting the difference between French law and Flemish regulations to amass his cache of looted goods [...] The offender is liable to imprisonment and hundreds of thousands of euros in customs fines. This is a clear message to those who, for the benefit and selfish pleasure of a few, rob us of our common heritage and erase entire swaths of our history.”

That was from Bruno Le Maire, France’s economy minister, none of that mealy mouthed Brit-nonsense that "the vast majority of these history hoikers are really responsibly hoiking, not like the VERY SMALL MINORITY OF ones that operate illegally" that we meet in every single British news report that even whispers the words "metal detector". In France they see history hoiking for what it is: a group of oiks that "for their own benefit and selfish pleasure, rob us of our common heritage and erase entire swaths of our history”.

One of the Belgian officials first at the scene in Gingelom said the man’s account had not rung true from the start.  Marleen Martens told the Het Nieuwsblad newspaper: “The man said he bought it because he liked to come for a walk in the area and set up a caravan there. He had made the find when he wanted to clean up the ground with a metal detector. I thought he had found some coins, but he took two full buckets from the trunk of his car. “During the site survey we concluded that it was impossible for the coins to come from this site. They were located in an earth layer that was formed after the middle ages. A few coins could exceptionally still toss up. But 14,000?”
Context, you see? 

Some of the hoard found by officials. Photograph: Douane Française

hat tip Dave Coward

Friday, 11 December 2020

Impatient UK detectorist Has a Serious Issue with his Liaison Officer, went to Head Office, but Won't Be Recording Anyfink Else, So There.


A UK metal detectorist has a grudge about his liaison officer and announces that he won't be recording anything else: Stevensimmons (Fri Dec 04, 2020)Location - Wiltshire:
I am having a serious issue with my FLO. I don’t particularly, at this time, want to discuss it in an open forum but I would appreciate some help and advise if someone with any experience or knowledge could privately message me.
Oldartefact (Fri Dec 04, 2020 2:36 pm) concurs, though cannot work out if he's giving advice or asking a question:
Yes best not to discuss on a forum. You might want to consider escalating the issue within the Portable Antiquities Service? Hope that helps.
Stevensimmons (Fri Dec 11, 2020 10:28 am)
Just an update to this. I eventually received a reply from Michael Lewis at the British Museum. I won’t be bothering them again, the finds they already have ( including 14 gold unites and laurels) they may eventually put on their database, the other ninety finds that could be recorded I will just keep for my own enjoyment.
I remember going to the sandpits as a child in the sixties and finding sharks teeth and fossils. We would then run to Ipswich museum and hand them in. They always received two scruffy little kids, with our treasures in our hands, with kindness and enthusiasm. They always explained to us what we had found and how old it was, they even displayed some items ( although looking back they probably weren’t worth displaying).
The world has changed and I guess I’ve just got to accept that.  Shame on them.
Not all artefact hunters in the UK are so arrogant, ignorant, unintelligent, with such a false sense of entitlement. Take f8met from Cambridgeshire (Fri Dec 11, 2020 10:46 am)
Surely if it is that amount of gold coins found in one place then it is the Treasure process that is causing the delay and not the FLO. It can take a long time for Treasure items to appear on the database, usually after they have been disclaimed or gone fully through the process. With reduced working hours and quantity of finds it will take time. It was only September that you dropped them off. A year is not unusual for the process, sometimes more and they won't instantly appear on the database.. Recording is always the responsible thing to do not for us but for the potential that the items have for researchers and academics. They may be out of context loose finds but they still have information to give.

One wonders in what timespan those ninety recordable finds he's pocketing were found? Since lockdown began? And note that if Ipswich Museum had not encouraged this guy in his hunting bits from the past, the archaeological record would not now be missing those unreported finds. How to STOP curious little boys growing up as selfish looters? 

 

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Diggers in Denial


Let's Go Digging:
Darren Gamblin Let’s hope this one gets to flow .......
Paul Lgd Howard They all go to the FLO, This one will be reported to Gloucestershire FLO by tomorrow, All treasure finds found on LGD events get reported, Do you think we would constantly post pics on here of treasure if it wasn’t reported?
Colin Ford What a nasty comment, Sounds like you are trying to say that LGD don't report their finds.
Keith Green Just remove him from the group. It's comments like this that give us detectorists a bad name.
No, what gets detectorists a bad name is the growing awareness that the majority of artefacts dug out of the archaeological record and pocketed (including by LGD members) simply disappear without record. Fact.

Unanswered Question

 

Underneath the first of my two posts (so far) about the Henry Cole Treasure Hunt at Sudeley Castle we find the following comment (one that repeats an oft-heard mantra in detecting circles): 

Liam allen said...
These people are finding stuff that no one ever would of [sic] found, stop crying like little babies sad c**ts
When I asked a few hours ago: "Now can you tell us why that is so important?:", he can't seem to find the words. Can somebody else explain it then? (Serious question, it seems to me this is another of those arguments that is repeated by people who heard it somewhere, but never applied themselves to the effort of thinking about it before repeating it like a parrot).

 Vignette: The Norwegian blue


Collectors' Post-Mortem Conscience Salving

It took Kanak Mani Dixit a few hours to identify a piece in a private US collection:



The Alsdorfs, collectors responsible for keeping it from going back needed a little longer: 
Erin L. Thompson @artcrimeprof
This sculpture's repatriation is great, but the case needs greater attention. A collector shouldn't be able to think they're solving the problem of a stolen artifact by making a will that graciously allows a source country to take it out of their cold, dead hands. 

Stakhanovite Weeding Produces Results in New Forest?

 The lady at number nine had been going on at her husband for years to get the flower borders weeded. And when they started, they just could not stop


On the forums, several sceptical tekkies are calling this "the same old story". Whatever can they mean? The PAS says it's a legitimate findspot - but now I realise one simply cannot trust anything the PAS says

What steps were taken to verify this story? What value does any of the "information" in the PAS database hold?

They decided to do the trite narrativisation here by invoking a "mystery": "It is not clear whether this was a savings hoard [that] was regularly deposited into or if the coins were buried all at once". If it had been properly excavated we would know. And what a shame it is that England does not have a public funded scheme educating finders about best practice so that when a member of the public finds something like this, while weeding, they don't think, "hang on a minute, I really should not touch this, I must call in the archaeologists". Yes it is a shame that in the UK they don't have a scheme that could actually achieve  that after 25 years of not-really-trying. It's a good job that the newspaper articles reporting this are plastered by just such admonitions by the PAS, so that nobody could miss it. 

The PAS is very keen not to inform public opinion and to keep quiet and be economical with the truth about its many failures, under Professor Mike Lewis, it shows almost zero initiative in improving the situation. The PAS needs a shakeup, and a new press officer. 



 
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