Saturday 2 January 2021

Less Dots Breaks a British Archaeologist's Heart, when they Should be Looking at Something Else

HA's graphic, slightly modified to show
situation 15th July 2018 (yellow line)

Heritage Action raises a question British archaeologists have been ignoring for a while now. 'Metal Detecting: New Year, no change – in fact heartbreakingly worse' (02/01/2021). Well, the archaeologists that want to get their hands on things to put on their dot distribution maps are only 'heartbroken' that unrecorded artefacts ripped straight out of the archaeological record means less dots for them. If we instead think about what's happening to the archaeological record... HA write:
Our Erosion Counter continues to grow inexorably. On the last day of 2020, it showed 6,972,338 recordable artefacts dug up with only 1,516,359 objects (in 971,530 records) in the PAS database. It still runs on our original estimate of 8,000 active detectorists but as everyone now agrees, there are now vastly more of those so in July 2018 Paul Barford produced a revised counter amalgamating our figures and Sam Hardy’s. That now shows an estimate of 8,760,847 artefacts dug up (and accelerating fast). Paul calls the figures a “mitigation failure”. But we do wonder why “mitigation” is still an aim at all? With the country in such a parlous financial state, why are we spending time and money on effectively preserving and rewarding a mere leisure activity that causes massive net damage?
Why, they go on, "are archaeologists supporting damaging behaviour much of which is little more sophisticated than that of chimps? We’d be glad to hear a rational answer from PAS or anyone else but are willing to wager we won’t". The arrogant PAS consider paying attention to, let alone answering, such questions as beneath them. All of them, all of the FLOs, all of the Bloomsbury staff, and they are sitting on their warm bottoms getting paid out of public money to provide a public service, and do not. Where are the answers to questions of public interest? 

Why do we have a PAS? (That is a serious question.) Heritage Action wonder whether it any longer does what it was set up to do (see Valletta Convention) they say "we do wonder why “mitigation” is still an aim at all". The word in fact does not in fact appear on their website. Neither does a link to the Valletta Convention. 

I set up my counter on Sunday, 15 July 2018. On that day, the HA Counter read: 6,260,328 since the start of the PAS and the PAS database was 1351255 objects recorded (in 864344 records).  

By what degree would Heritage Action's original - deliberately conservative - estimate have to be "wrong" to make the numbers of hoiked finds simply disappearing without record "OK"? And to what degree would my revised one have to be wrong to make the figures seem OK, and the PAS the resounding success people claim?  Can somebody prove that there are NOT 27000 artefact hunters ripping stuff out of the ground and that taken as an average across that number that the average number of recordable finds made is NOT 30.5? 

What will this graphic (courtesy of HA) look like on 31.12.2029? Can we afford another decade of this?  

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