Monday 30 August 2021

For the 878th time: It's not just the nighthawks.

On news that more metal detectorist holes have been spotted in a protected site, somebody over in Bonkers Britain calling themselves (though writing in the first person singular) "Sussex Heritage Community" writes
Please [emoticon] for our historic environment, these actions do *NOT* represent the ethical law abiding Metal Detecting Community. Illicit metaldetecting is theft of our Heritage, a loss to our knowledge, understanding & any artefact's provenance. It's damaging not only to the land and environment but to all ethical law abiding detectorists too. Please see my guide on the subject.
One almost wants to ask them whether they actually believe that it's only "illicit metal detecting" that is a problem? The 27000 others walking around with spades and hoiking stuff out of the archaeological record, much of it clandestinely (because not reported) is not in any way a problem? I would ask, but over on Twitter you'd not get an answer and they'd just block you for trying to discuss what they said.

Part of the problem is we are dealing her with a whole bunch of British archaeologists (as I assume this is) who themselves see the subject as all about finding "things" /objects, to put on a shelf, in a case, or a box and write about (ie show off). This is no different from an artefact collector. So SHC talking about heritage-theft is talking about the object, about losing the ARTEFACT's provenance. There are , however, archaeologists over here who see archaeology as interpreting patterns within and between archaeological contexts, the objects from those contexts are treated holistically, not individually, as part of the evidence that led to the creation of the archaeological record (as a whole) on a site. Numpties with spades pinpointing and blindly digging out random elements of that record destroy that CONTEXT.

That's what they do, and it does not matter is they do it only on Fridays, or wearing pink silken gloves, or what the legal status of the search was. It not about legality here, it's about destruction (yes, the knowledge a site contains is our heritage, we lose knowledge and understanding from) ALL Collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record. All of it. 

And what information about the archaeological context is it that Numpty gives a FLO a grid reference to where he hoiked it from and shows his search agreement with farmer O'Malley? Please somebody reconstruct me an archaeological context for five random individual finds in that 1.5 million-object-containing "database". 

Go on. Give us back the context from which an artefact hunter hoiked BERK-DE69D9 - or any other. 

 And then explain to me: "It's damaging to all ethical law abiding detectorists too".  What "ethics" are we talking about when the hobby itself is damaging? If you are engaged in doing something that is damaging per se, irrespective of how legal it is and how you hoik (filling in all your holes and closing all the gates), what is the ethical thing to do?

1 comment:

Brian Mattick said...

For the 878th time: nighthawks are responsible for only a small proportion of the cultural damage. It's the legal, non-reporting majority that is the main problem.

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