Monday, March 24, 2014

Real Archaeologists Without an Agenda Say Metal Detectors' Damage Limited; PAS Adds to Archaeological Record

Real archaeologists without an agenda have acknowledged for some time that amateur metal detectorists do little real damage to the archaeological record.  Archaeologists are few; so where they end up digging is limited.  And when they dig, they don't typically record and preserve what is located in the top layers of the ground anyway.  Rather, they dig right through to concentrate on archaeological strata of interest and end up just dumping the top layers they excavate, with little, if any study of what it may contain.  Sure, sometimes archaeologists conduct "surface surveys," but amateur metal detectorists have added far more to the archaeological record under the the PAS and Treasure Act.  Because of their hard work, archaeologists in England and Wales have become aware of promising sites which otherwise would have gone unnoticed.  A win-win for anyone who loves history.  

So, why does an archaeo-blogger in far off Poland go on and on about the evils of metal detecting, even where finders properly record the artifacts they find under the Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure Act?  And why do American archaeologists who depend on nationalistic foreign cultural bureaucracies to provide them with excavation permits go on and on about the same issue in order to justify import controls on common collectors' coins of the sort widely and legally collected here and abroad?   Is it about conservation or is it really about control?

9 comments:

stoutstandards said...

You answered your question when you used the term "real archaeologists"....

Trying to place the gentleman from Warsaw into this category is simply not possible. It's also a widely accepted fact that he is an embarrassment to his peers.

John H said...

"Is it about conservation or is it really about control?"

Er....control! Isn't it always?

Regards

John Howland
England

kyri said...

stoutstandards writes,"he is an embarrassment to his peers" and this from a man who uploads vile childish videos,full of personal attacks on his blog, which offer absolutely nothing to further debate on an important topic.
kyri.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Kyri, the issue here is Mr. Barford's qualifications (which are always relevant for one who claims to be an expert). Mr. Barford musn't have been too offended by that video as he's publicized it on his own blog. I've also had some work done on my picture by Mr. Barford and have read some of his comments about metal detectorists and Mr. Stout too-- so I can understand how that frustration has found some expression in that video (which I've never mentioned here myself, except in response to your post).

stoutstandards said...

Kyri, I am well aware that my video was not in good taste, but let me state here that I wish I had never heard of Mr. Barford, or had a reason to communicate with him.

It was he that somehow found my website two years ago and out of the blue decided to insult a good friend of mine. It seems to be his forte.

I find little to like about the man, and please don't insult me by mentioning the word debate. There is no debating Paul Barford. It's either his way or the highway, and I along with many others have found it very easy to take the highway.

And Kyri you are quite welcome to comment on my blog.

David Knell said...

Kyri, you'll find a slightly different viewpoint here:
http://ancient-heritage.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/opinions-and-qualifications.html

Cultural Property Observer said...

David, thank you for your comment, but the question is not whether metal detectorists do some damage, but rather is it is serious damage, and, if s, whether that is outweighed by all the information they have recovered. I have no doubt archaeologists under contract with countries like Greece and Italy will spout the views of their cultural bureaucracies or that there may be some British naysayers, but even archaeologists of great stature like Lord Renfrew have recognized the merits of PAS and the Treasure Act.

As for Mr. Barford's credentials, the issue is whether he is a real archaeologist or not. Perhaps he can post his CV which will show how active he really is in the field. It's my understanding that he works largely as a translator for UNESCO and the like..

David Knell said...

Thank you for your reply, Peter. I have responded to it above my own blog post. You are welcome to comment further there.

Cultural Property Observer said...

David, I'm not sure why questioning Mr. Barford's qualifications as an archaeologist is "odious" as you claim. He had taken down the claim he was an archaeologist on his blog the last time this was raised,but now he's put it back up. All I've suggested is that he posts his CV as I believe Messrs. Gill and Elkins have done in the past. Not sure what's wrong with that. Until he does so and it passes muster, I'm not sure with what's wrong questioning whether he is a real archaeologist or not as he uses that qualification to buttress his opinions.