Saturday 3 April 2021

RAP30: Espoli, tràfic il·lícit i falsificacions de béns arqueològics


The latest volume (30) of the periodical of the University of Lleida "Revista d'Arqeologia de Ponent" is devoted to looting illicit trafficking and falsification of archaeological material in Europe and beyond. It has two texts critical of the approach of a little island off the coast of the European mainland, the first is by this blog's author: 'Some Aspects of the Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record in England and Wales' (RAP 30, pp 101-125) written in September 2019. It is a view that I hope balances some of the pro-PAS stuff that dominates the discussions of the issue of artefact hunting in the UK. There is another coming out in a couple of weeks that is its counterpart. 

My paper in RAP is preceded by Neil Brodie's paper on the PAS and "metal detecting" in England and Wales. This is an unfortunate consequence of a joint work involving different writers working independently. The presence of two texts on the same subject is rather unfortunate because it makes it look as if what happens in the UK has any real relevance to the rest of the world. It does not. There is also a frustrating overlap between the two. I was amused to see this blog (and Heritage Action's) merely referred to on Brodie's p95 as an "untapped information lode". Yet on this blog are posts directly referring to some of the questions posed in his paper by Brodie and indeed offering some of the information he was struggling to find (and some of these gaps are filled by my own text in the same volume). This is interesting in the light of Brodie's own comments about 'boundary fixing'.

There are some interesting contributions to this volume (see contents below: photo byNellie Abboud). There is the expected focus on Near Eastern stuff (including one on the issue of ISIL looting), I was intrigued to see two from Argentina, several on fighting "archaeolooting" (it means metal detectors) [lovely word: 'arqueofurtivisimo'], one that defends the good name of metal detectors as an archaeological tool (but pro-tekkie archaeologists should look however at how it ends pp 145-6). Really quite interesting in this context was the grouping of three papers at the end about the cognitive consequences of fake artefacts. The editors of this volume are to be congratulated on this useful contribution to the discussion. 

Coming back to my text, PAS head office will be receiving a copy of my text as a matter of courtesy (together with the second paper when it comes out). Anyone who wants a pdf of the first is invited to write either directly, or to the comments below with an email address (that will not be published) and I will send it next week.  Critical substantive discussion, comment and reasoned polemic are, as usual welcomed. Especially from the PAS and Helsinki Gang.  [And yes, before someone gleefully points it out, I am aware that there is - despite (or perhaps due to) several revisions - there is an incomplete sentence on p.  114, grrrrrrr. But the sense is clear]. 


Barford, Paul 2020, 'Some Aspects of the Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record in England and Wales', Revista d'Arquelogia de Ponent 30, pp 101-125.

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