Saturday 30 January 2021

Rebuke from PAS FLO Reavill: Be Careful What You Wish For

         UK, a long way from the very centre of Europe 

In response to a post from the Chester archaeological society in the UK suggesting that instead of financing yet another object-centric rehash of information from the PAS database, they would do better to finance a study on the long-term effects of artefact hunting since the 1970s on the archaeological record of the area they cover.  A PAS FLO decided to stick his oar in:

Peter Reavill @PeterReavill 49 min   
I'm sure you could apply for the grant to undertake this Paul, it would make a change from shouting from the sidelines and putting some genuine academic research behind your posturing

 Though apparently Peter Reavill cannot see it, there is a solid logistic reason why I am sure that conducting fieldwork on the local metal detecting scene in Cheshire from Warsaw would not be an effective use of society funds. It's called distance - something Mr Reavill needs. There are six thousand archaeologists in the UK who would be better placed to do such research than I, and I presume that I am not the only person that can see the need to do it. 

As for "shouting from the sidelines", that is an odd phrase to use for the author of this blog. If in Britain there was a lively ongoing debate accompanying the growth of the PAS in archaeological periodicals, Archaeological Journal, British Archaeological Review, Journal of Archaeological Science, Journal of Field Archaeology, Archaeological Methodology Studies, Archaeological Resource Management Yearly, all the rest, then a blog that "also" discusses these issues mighty be a sideline to the dozens of other papers. On the other hand, British archaeology is not producing huge amounts of academic literature on this issue that strays beyond love-letters to the PAS and metal detectorists. In that case a blog that consistently questions policy and presents material challenging the prevailing preconceptions is not really a sideline to that debate, it is in fact one of the places over two million people have come to see this side of the issue. Mr Reavill's "PAS doing well here" blog has far fewer readers. 

Mr Reavill pompously exhorts me to put "some genuine academic research behind your posturing". Researching any aspect of portable antiquities issues is difficult and time-consuming. Some of the fruits of what I've found out down the years are here on this blog, not that I'd expect Mr Reavill or anybody that takes the PAS-penny to have read any of it. There are a couple of papers out there already. Again, I would not expect Mr Reavill to have read them. As I have said, the early part of lockdown led to two fairly substantial and closely-argued papers about the PAS that I think are pretty devastating. I'll post the links up when they are available online. Mr Reavill is invited to try his hand at proving those arguments invalid. The entire PAS too, why not? There is also a new book project in progress that I'll be announcing here later, and of course the one I did with Nigel Swift that hit a bad spot, but under lockdown is taking new shape. I think between them, they'll give PAS and the Helsinki Gang a run for their money. Mr Reavill, I suspect, will not by that time - I'll wager - have produced any comparable "genuine academic research" to place behind his own posturing. 

Here (Archaeologist: "A Pragmatic Approach to Artefact Hunting Works and has Benefited the Heritage of the Country Greatly" PACHI Saturday, 11 July 2020 ) PAS FLO Peter Reavill agreed to answer some of the points I had raised, he wanted to hedge it around with conditions, but then pulled out (Communicating Archaeology: FLO Backs Down from Defending Claim PACHI Monday, 20 July 2020). He is quite welcome to change his mind and address those points right now if he likes.


Paul Barford said...

Next day, no reply from Peter Reavill, who after making several accusations yesterday, blocked me on Twitter to dodge answering. That's how the PAS communicates archaeology during Lockdown.

David Knell said...

Ha! The sheer chutzpah of Peter Reavill telling anyone to do "some genuine academic research" leaves me almost speechless.

This is the tax-funded 'expert' who recently posted a PAS article about an 18th-century heraldic seal. So, did he turn to the obvious Fairbairn's Book of Crests to identify it, Burke's Landed Gentry to track down the owners? Nah, he apparently didn't have the vaguest clue what heraldry is (or indeed even know what George III looked like - not a great start for writing about 18th-century English artefacts).

Did he acknowledge he was out of his depth? Nah, his idea of "genuine academic research" was to jump to wrong conclusions, turn to a load of completely irrelevant mainstream literature about the slave trade and then weave a wild and appallingly misinformed fantasy based on that. Predictably, his badly-written article emerged as total rubbish that had absolutely nothing even remotely to do with the artefact he was supposed to be writing about.

It's laughably ironic that far from being utterly ashamed of his own fiasco, he has the gall to lecture others on the importance of "genuine academic research".

If Mr Reavill's track record is an example, conducting relevant "research" into the effects of PAS on archaeology would involve nothing more than skimming through a stack of Beano annuals.


Note to Mr Reavill:
The seal has nothing whatsoever to do with the slave trade. I did your research for you: I explained what heraldry is and tracked down the seal to the Blakemore family of Darlaston. Instead of lecturing others on "genuine academic research", when are you going to either delete your own article altogether or do the right thing and completely revise it with acknowledgement to someone who did what you should have done in the first place? It's been over five months now and I'm still waiting ...

Paul Barford said...

as for Beanos, one might add that, in relation to the question posed, trawling through PAS Annual Reports would have about the same effect. We hear about what (objects) have been found, not what effect their selective digging and the non-reporting of associated evidence has on the country's archaeological record.

Paul Barford said...

and still no reply from Mr Reavill.

Paul Barford said...

1st Feb. Still no reply from Mr Reavill. He's probably "putting some genuine academic research" into composing his answer...

Paul Barford said...

I reckon Mr Reavill has chickened out of discussion. He might have at least had the culture to inform us of that and why.

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