Thursday, July 19, 2012

If You Can't Beat Them Why Not Join Them?

The archaeological blogosphere is full at the moment with all sorts of snobby, condescending blather about a new TV show in the UK that highlights some of the most interesting finds made under the PAS and Treasure Act.  I think it would be better if archaeologists recognized that metal detectors are a fact of life-- even in countries like Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Bulgaria etc. where we have heard that they are either banned outright or heavily regulated.

It's a bit amazing to me that archaeologists can abandon a site for 10 months or so out of a year, and then be shocked that locals with metal detectors show up in their absence.  Even worse, some of these same archaeologists then argue the only people who should be "paying for the damage" are American collectors who should be banned from importing coins from abroad-- an argument foreign cultural bureaucrats and their American counterparts are apparently all too happy to buy because it diverts attention from the need to address the problem at the source.

If archaeologists are not going to ensure their sites are secure in their absence, perhaps then they should at least explore the sites themselves with metal detectors, and get there first.   Archaeologists in the UK have long used metal detectors to assist them with their digs.  Archaeologists in countries like Cyprus, Italy, Greece and Turkey should do likewise.  At a minimum, perhaps they will then find all those coins that never get recovered because they are either so small that they go through sieves or are stuck in clumps of excavated earth.

For most people-- but perhaps not archaeo-bloggers or other archaeologists who want to complete control over anything old-- an ounce of prevention is worth far more than a pound of cure.

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