Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Metal Detectorists Preserve Artifacts Archaeologists Often Destroy or Ignore!

Karl also makes this intersting observation in his "Highway to Hell" article cited below:

But what are Austrian metal detectorists really digging up? Do they typically dig sizeable trenches, and do they dig down into stratified contexts? As far as can be ascertained from the results of my survey, they normally do neither. Rather, the overwhelming majority restrict their activities mostly to digging just the topsoil (Figure 10) and to digging pits of less than one-quarter of a square metre (Figure 11).

Yet, the topsoil is that part of an archaeological stratigraphy that is usually removed by a mechanical digger on the vast majority of Austrian excavations. This is true for pretty much all rescue excavations, and even for many, if not most, research digs. Manual removal of the topsoil is the rare exception to the rule, and even where this happens, the topsoil is rarely thoroughly searched for finds (least of all using a metal detector), if at all.

Thus, most of the activity of metal detectorists seems to be limited to those parts of archaeological stratigraphies neither observed nor documented in systematic archaeological excavations. It thus seems rather peculiar that we accuse these amateur archaeologists of intentionally destroying the archaeological contexts of their finds. After all, professional archaeologists rarely even bother attempting to recover the finds that derive from topsoil contexts; rather, they run them over with a large digger or remove them rapidly and with little regard for implementing intensive recovery strategies.

See more here: http://culturalpropertyobserver.blogspot.com/2012/01/on-highway-to-hell.html

1 comment:

kyri said...

i have read dr karls paper and the rather lengthy response from mr barford and find myself somewere in the middle.i think that a system like the pas for austria would be a way forward but not without a better treasure act than the one we have in the uk and some regulation of metal detectors.
the free for all we have in the uk at the moment with a weak treasure act and metal detectors free to do practically as they like is in my opinion going to far the other way.
the one thing i would like to say is that how can dr karl take anything these austrian metaldetectors say at face value?they openly admit to breaking the law,so open themselves to the charge of being unscrupulous law breakers.there are many laws in the uk that i dont like,having to wear a seatbelt is one of them but as a law abiding citizen i choose not to break any laws.
as for dr.karls assumption that they dont do it for financial gain,well the only official figures we have are the pas own figures that state only 7% of metal detectors waive their rights to a reward.these figures are factual and not assumend,this prooves that the vast majority of metal detectors are in it for the money and are not amateur archaeologists at all, but treasure hunters.