Wednesday 15 December 2021

PASt Exploring. Interrogating the PAS Database

          The subject of the PAS's
       "millionth record"? 

I have discussed the claim that the flaky harness pendant NLM-B7AFF3  was the PAS's "millionth" record as claimed at the launch of the Treasure report (see here too). I showed that it was not, it was something like the 997502nd. On querying that, I was told (M. Lewis in litt.) why the PAS had hidden certain information on the home page of the database

We took off the record counter before we got to 1M else (sic) people might spoil the press moment - there were quite a few very keen to celebrate before we were ready.
Not everybody is so keen to "celebrate" the scale represented by the numbers of artefacts removed from contexts and masses of potential knowledge trashed by artefact hunting on such a scale. 

Anyway, the Head of the PAS reveals that they hide from the public the information to secure the "press moment", when they inform the public what should be public information all along. Once again, it looks like PAS is acting as a gatekeeper. It looks like what we are being told is that these are not public data (about the common archaeological heritage) for public use, but PAS data, for the PAS to make its own use of "when we are ready".

Readers might be aware that this has happened before, back in September 2014 when the Portable Antiquities Scheme was claiming (in another “press moment”?) that “the millionth find” had just been recorded. This was far from clear, and I made a number of posts on this so-called “Milliongate” that raised a number of issues that were never properly addressed by this public-funded body. Now the same thing seems to be happening with the numbers of records.
Whatever the claims and counterclaims, it seems that after quarter of a century expensive outreach the PAS database now does have upward of a million records. That's what their own counter says anyway. The number of records in the PAS database from 1st January 1996 to today is 1000458. So when did it cross that magical "million mark"? It seems that on Sunday 12th December there were 999966 records. By the end of the next day the counter says there were 1,000,212. If these figures are correct, it would mean that the 34th find recorded on Monday 13th December (so the day before they announced they'd already passed the mark on 22nd November) is the best candidate for being the real millionth record from 25+ years of liaison. By my reckoning, if you sort the results by date (and I assume the PAS server additionally organises them by time made) that's a pretty scraggy Beata Tranquillitas Roman coin from Badgeworth near Tewkesbury recorded in Bristol GLO-7448F7 and found 19th November 2021 by metal detecting on land of undetermined character.

But then, this is the PAS database after all, matters are not so simple, because to get from 999966 to 1000212 from one day to the next (see above), the PAS daily statistics tell us that on Monday 13th December only 84 records were made... Something here does not match. Check it out for yourselves.

But let's not lose sight of the fact that in the same 25+ years many million more artefacts have been dug up, pocketed and disappeared, all under the umbrella of "responsible detecting". Who is taking responsibility for what?

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.