Thursday, 2 March 2023

PAS Going for Remote Artefact Recording from Photos to Boost Database Numbers?

From the NCMD Facebook page:
Yesterday, myself and members of the NCMD committee had a meeting with Michael Lewis, Head of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and some the FLO’s to follow up on previous discussions around us providing a digital solution to help members record their finds.

So many of our members aren’t able to meet up with their FLO during the working week, so an ideal solution would be the ability for them to upload photos and information for the FLO’s to use.

It would mean that finds wouldn’t need to be handed over unless it was something special that needed further investigation, or of course was a treasure item, but at least it would be digitally recorded in the first instance.

It was an extremely positive meeting and we are aiming to set up a trial as a next step. Once we’ve agreed the functionality we’ll need to get things set up, but it shouldn’t take long and hopefully we’ll be able to move it forward in due course. I’ll keep you informed of progress.

Alan Tamblyn General Secretary
When the PAS was set up, the idea was that public finds would be examined by experienced professional finds specialists who would make all the relevant observations and check the details to mitigate the information loss when that object entered the pool of anonymous and scattered artefacts in the collectors' market (Daubnet's floating culture'). The idea was that this examination would allow a full description and documentation to be created, preservation by documentation. Also the idea was that by contacts and building up relationships with finders, archaeologists working for the Scheme would be able to do first class archaeological outreach, informing the wider public at first hand, and on the exampe of the material being brought in and discussed of the aims and characteristics of the discipline. Virtually all of that has been prgressively stripped away. The PAS is just a shell of the original innovative Scheme that it was set up to be. So now we are going to see the creation of a database made on the basis of some artefact hunter taking a couple of cellphone pictures taken from random angles (not necessarily those that reveal all the features a specialist would like to see) and any details noted by the FLO or maybe a volunteer working for the FLO's office (maybe even from home?) will be based on looking at the pictures - will the description state that outright? What kind of data quality is this going to lead to? A lot of the FLO's descriptions are already skimpy, not to mention sometimes unfocussed, and often missing important detail of the features of the objects being documented. This development will lead to a further decline in standards. But "never mind the quality, feel the width", eh? Just keep the databse numbers going up... never mind what those "data" represent.


Brian Mattick said...

I would have thought that increasing reporting numbers has become less of an aim for PAS since however much it does so it is outpaced by the growth in the number of detectorists.

Brian Mattick said...

Ergo, over time, the items reported per detectorist has tanked.

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