Friday 2 September 2022

The Problems with Participating in TV "Archaeology" that is Just Artefact Hunting

It seems pretty obvious that, unless something is said to discourage this (like "this, actually damages the archaeological record if you do it in a careless and uninformed manner"), televised artefact hunting is going to exncourage more and more people to have a go. Yet the PAS admits itself to be totally incapable of (a) coping with even a portion of the artefacts found by the current number of detectorists and (b) finding ways to persuade the public purse that they "must" finance the mitigation of this minority hobby ("or else..." - or else what?). So it is pretty annoying to see more archaeologists joining in televised artefact hunting events and smiling as desirable collectables are revealed (maybe even actually dug up and not planted) and shown off before... well what? Where do they go? And then we see on social media:
Digging For Treasure @dfttc5 · 12 g.
Has anyone decided to give detecting a go since tuning in last week? If so show us what you've found ⬇️ All the information you need on how to detect responsibly is pinned on our social media pages. ⏲️ Digging for Treasure is back tomorrow night, 9pm, C5. #DFT #C5 #LookWhatIFound
So I'd like to ask Raksha Dave and the Portable Antiquities Scheme whether the aim of the programme really was to promote artefact hunting, the ripping out of collectables from the archaeological record, randomly trashing sites, so that archaeologists can get to "see what has been found"? Is that it? They say defensively that they give "ALL the information you need on how to detect responsibly". Well, actually no, they do not. Not even a proper beginning. We could start off by agreeing a definition of BEST artefact-hunting and collecting practice for the archaeology.

As one example, the programme shows detecting in the dark, where the finder cannot see the context of what they are blindly pulling-out-at-a-bleep. The guidelines make no mention of looking what you are doing as you remove artefacts from the archaeological record (or making notes). The guidance is a l-o-o-o-n-g way from defining best practice, and second-to-best may be OK in making TV programmes about baking cakes, but is damaging to a finite and fragile resource when it comes to trashing the archaeological record as personal entertaiment and profit.

And it is Friday and another episode of Digging For Treasure is due on.

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