Friday 2 April 2021

The Results of Poor Communication of Archaeological Values to the Public

      butterfly hunting as conservation?    

Over on Twitter, the usual tiresome discussions with artefact hunters that confuse archaeology and archaeological resource preservation as "finding old things". This morning some lady Jenny Sheppard (aka ' @ThePolymathean' [sic]) decided to instruct the arkie:

Jenny Sheppard @ThePolymathean
W odpowiedzi do @PortantIssues @RogerBlack3 i 3 innych użytkowników
There's just no way archaeologists would be able to find as much without detectorists. Here's a fantastic read which is worth your consideration at the very least. [link to Natasha Ferguson's 2016 text: "Lost in Translation: Discussing the Positive Contribution of Hobbyist Metal Detecting" Open Archaeology, vol. 2, no. 1, 2016., which she found on something called "Readcube"]
First of all, it's pretty insulting to assume that the author of this blog was not aware of an article nearly six years old by one of the Helsinki Gang. Searching for the author's name on this blog produces three pages of posts that show I am not entirely unaware of what Natasha Ferguson from the Scottish Treasure Trove Unit, NMS in Edinburgh has had to say on artefact hunting. That aside, I do wonder whether Jenny Shepard has actually read the article she triumphantly thrusts in our Twitterfaces. In particular has she read page 121 (and understood it)?
"Although the controlled recovery of archaeological objects is certainly a part of the archaeological process, and granted it may be the most visible and tangible aspect from a public perspective, it does not define it. This is perhaps the point where the two perspectives of what it is to contribute to an understanding of the archaeological record diverge" [my emphasis]

I wonder whether this polymathic apologist for collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record took in the significance of the fact that this text is describing the author's own experiences in Scotland, where by law all artefacts have to be surrendered, but even there recent figures show many detectorists don't comply, they are illegally retaining artefacts like "nighthawks".

Also I think it is worth reflecting But how many other areas of resource conservation does the activity concern random people ripping the object of preservation from its environment and taking it home? Butterflies, wild bird eggs, wild flowers? Rhinos, seals, pandas, tigers and elephants? Standing stones?

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