Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Too Much Information?

Archaeo-bloggers David Gill and Paul Barford have taken the Portable Antiquities Scheme to task for allowing archaeologists to post finds on the database that was designed to record non-Treasure finds by the public.  Of course, PAS is a voluntary scheme and while it is not mandatory for archaeologists to post finds, really what's wrong with them doing so?   In the end, shouldn't it be about creating the most complete record of significant finds possible?  As it is, without archaeologists reporting, there is a hole in the PAS record.  Sure, archaeologists should report details of their finds to the local Historic Environment office, but is such information as accessible as the PAS database for scholars and anyone else interested in learning more details about what is found?


John H said...

What else would you expect from Messrs Gill and Barford? If anyone has lost direction it has to be these two clowns. What they advocate is vandalism to the historical record...no different to slashing a Rembrandt with a knife.

It's obvious they don't want the number archaeological finds - or lack of them - to be compared to the million or so on the PAS. Why else the secrecy? Perhaps there are moves afoot to compel archaeologists to record with the PAS. Let's hope so.

We already know the scandal of hundreds of thousands of artifacts yet to see the light of a classification report in Britain, thanks to being left in the 'care' of archaeology.

I'm starting to wonder whether Gill is fit for purpose.

Best wishes

John Howland

Dave Welsh said...

It is really difficult to understand how any archaeologist possessing a normal human endowment of common sense and practical understanding could oppose expanding the PAS database to the fullest possible extent.

The PAS database has become a treasure trove of statistical and geographic information that allows fruitful insights to be gained about Roman Britain and Saxon settlements, among other important historical inferences.

Advocating suppression of information not conforming to rigid standards of archaeological purism is one more example of the foolish delusion that discoveries of those not conforming to doctrinaire interpretations of method and theory can be suppressed.

The best known historical example of this delusion is perhaps the case of Galileo Galilei, who believed in the truth of Copernicus' heliocentric model of the solar system, as opposed to the Aristotelian theory that the Earth was the center of the universe.

From 1611 to 1633 extreme controversy raged in the Church hierarchy regarding the Copernican theory, traditionalists opposing it as heresy while liberal thinkers advocated keeping an open mind and regarding the Copernican theory as a mathematical hypothesis.

In 1633 Galileo was brought to trial before the Inquisition, sentenced to prison and under the threat of torture, forced to publicly abjure his "errors." He died nine years later.

350 years later in 1983, the Church finally accepted that Galileo "might be right."