Tuesday 11 May 2021

Public Finds Recording Database of Bulgarian National Federation of Metal Detecting Ignored in Helsinki

The the non-governmental organization Bulgarian National Federation of Metal Detecting Българска Национална Федeрация по Металдетектинг (run by Ilia Iliev) exists to to promote the hobby of metaldetecting, and to change the image of the hobby in the eyes of the public, politicians and journalists. It was a founding member of the European Council for Metal Detecting. In December 2018, it began to implement a new Project titled “Increasing the participation of the civil sector in the processes of formulation, implementation and monitoring of policies and legislation in the field of metal detecting”, for which it received €46,000 of EU money. The aim is to create and submit proposals for the rewriting of the legislation to establish a regulatory framework that will allow responsible metal detecting while at the same time accommodating the interests of the State in protecting the cultural heritage of the country. It openly refers to attempting to mimic and draw from the experience of "the positive British experience (where metal detectorists actively cooperate with archaeologists)".
There will be better information regarding the benefits of responsible metal detecting to the museums and archaeologists and more clarification to all target groups and stakeholders surrounding the rules and policies of metal detecting in Bulgaria. The project will cultivate a better understanding and agreement re the correct processes and rules when excavating finds by non- professional archaeologists such as detectorists. This positive enterprise will initiate proposals to allow clear and transparent metal detecting legislation. There will be research and analysis of good detecting arrangements and legislation within the European Union, the development of effective finds databases and the transfer of “Best Practice” from other areas where identified.
As part of this project, the Federation set up their Информационна база данни на движими културно-исторически ценности и други находки, открити от потребители на металдетектори в България [Information database of movable cultural and historical goods and other finds discovered by users of metal detectors in Bulgaria]
This platform was created as a result of the implementation of Project №BG05SFOP001-2.009-0038 "Increasing citizen participation in the processes of formulation, implementation and monitoring of legislation in the field of metal detection", funded by Contract №BG05SFOP001-2.009-0038-C01 by operational Good Governance Program, 2014-2020, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund.
The database is the first of its kind in Bulgaria. It is based on the example of platforms developed by scientists and fans of metal detection in other European countries. The aim is to offer a portal for reporting, processing and providing information on accidentally discovered archaeological finds through a metal detector or through other activities and related data. The platform is a source of knowledge and is aimed at various user groups, such as museum and research workers, archaeologists, history and archaeology enthusiasts, students, pupils, and the general public. Provides contextual information about the finds and works as a digital museum, thus making the finds and related data (excluding personal and other sensitive data) available to the Bulgarian and international public and research communities.
Despite this project being begun two years ago, and although there is clear evidence of transnational collaboration with the European Council for Metal Detecting, and the organisation of an international conference, there is no evidence that there were attempts (from either side) to establish contact with the European Finds Recording Network based in Helsinki University. The latter exists to: "support research and collaboration between the archaeological profession and metal-detecting communities, develop best practices, and promote international cooperation", but possibly this only applies to countries represented by a narrow group of grant-attracting academic pals rather than actually being a real trans-national effort per se. Certainly, bringing an east-central European state like Bulgaria into the Network would give the Helsinki Gang some experience of testing their ideas outside the bubble they have built around this concept, and the Bulgarians would no doubt have benefitted from contact and exchange of experiences with the other schemes (Denmark: DIME Digitale Metaldetektorfund, England and Wales: PAS The Portable Antiquities Scheme, Finland: FindSampo / Löytösampo / Fyndsampo, Belgium (Flanders): MEDEA, Netherlands: PAN Portable Antiquities of the Netherlands). It seems a huge opportunity to help the Bulgarians develop a useful database of public finds has been missed by both sides. How "European" is European for Helsinki?

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