Thursday, July 29, 2010

PAS Reaches Milestone

The Portable Antiquities Scheme has archived its 400,000th record on its database of English and Welsh finds. See The object in question is a coin of the House of Constantine found by a metal detectorist.

The Italian Cultural Ministry and the State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs should take note: PAS is a system better able to weather lean budgets because it relies on finders to help record objects and the State only retains for its own purposes those objects it deems significant. There are no curatorial expenses associated with most objects as these are returned to the finder and/or landowner after recordation.

Cultural authorities in both the UK and Italy face severe budget shortfalls, but PAS offers great value for the amounts expended. Meanwhile, as set forth below, Italy has decided to cut funding from several archaeological institutes it can no longer afford, and several museums, including the one housing some of its most significant Etruscan artifacts, are due to be privatized. See

The idea that restrictions on collectors will further archaeological research was always a fantasy. Now that archaeology is being cut to the bone in Italy, it is only more so. Meanwhile, the UK continues to record coins and other objects with the help of finders themselves. See Isn't it better to engage interested members of the public by recognizing the interests of finders and collectors? The insular approach of many Italian and American archaeological purists only invites further funding cuts.

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