Friday, 25 June 2021

Heritage Action: What’s worse than losing hedgehogs and dormice?


So often, the collection-driven destruction of the archaeological record is discussed as a matter of "collectors' rights" and "dealers' profits" rather than the massive resource conservation problem it actually is, as pointed out this week by Heritage Action (What’s worse than losing hedgehogs and dormice?). So, when we've not totally eradicated the population we can reintroduce species locally in 'reserves' where they were once present, but forced out by environmental change. So in Poland we have reconstructed bison herds, "there are now sea eagles on the South Coast of England for the first time in 240 years", but, Heritage Action point out:

reintroductions are a double-edged sword, distracting from the fact some extinctions are forever. Hence, few people care that an army of detectorists is engaged in removing archaeological artefacts from the fields. Yet those losses, especially when not reported, are the worst, for they're irreversible: not a single unreported archaeological artefact will ever be replaced nor will any archaeological site exhausted in secret. Sadly such losses are both avoidable and unnecessary. They happen only for personal amusement or personal profit, hence toleration of them is largely confined to Britain.

Vignette: The right way to collect bison. acquisitive metal detectorists have got it wrong about how to express an interest in the past by simply wanting to own it.

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