Friday 5 February 2021

Responsible Collecting: Before You Descend

                    Harrowing of Hell          
Over on a post made almost a year ago ( UK Public using 'PAS Database' to Market Norfolk-dug Artefacts PACHI Monday, 13 April 2020) about the use of the PAS database to facilitate sales of artefacts, a Mr or Ms "Unknown" has ventured a comment, the beginning is noteworthy:

I think that all artefacts, unless unrecognizable or detoriated, should be reported to the PAS. If they ALL should be in a museum, often hidden away from any public... Of course not. I have a private collection which will go to a museum/musea after my descending. It is key that the knowledge accompanying an artefact is preserved and given through to future generations.[...]5 February 2021 at 03:26
This person does not think that "unrecognizable or detoriated (sic) artefacts" should be reported to the PAS. This raises the question of who is to do this "recognition", an artefact hunter, or an archaeologist who knows a good deal more about the archaeological material. On an excavation the poorly-visible items might be subject to radiography before writing them off. Would a metal detectorist do this? Also even shapeless fragments, strips and bindings have their information content, though a collector might not give them a second glance. That is the difference between archaeology and artefact collecting. 

Equally how is an object from the earth not going to be "deteriorated"? Here the artefact hunter is again muddling what is collectable with what produces archaeological information. 

I am not convinced by this mention of having a "private collection that will go to a museum/musea (sic)" after the "descent" (to Hell?) of the detectorist. Will a museum want it? Has this collector contacted the museums in their region to determine whether this collection corresponds to their collection policy? As I pointed out elsewhere (responsible disposal of collections - I wonder if "Unknown" has read it, perhaps referred there by the PAS?) this should have been agreed beforehand with the institution intended as the recipient, and ascertaining what conditions such a donation will be accepted. If not, "descent" may be followed by disappointment.  

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