Wednesday, February 19, 2014

PAS Maps Finds For All to See

The Portable Antiquities Scheme has unveiled this nifty tool to help visualize the distribution of coin finds from different periods within Britain and Wales.  When will the Italians, Greeks, Cypriots and Bulgarians come up with something similar?  Likely never.  Why not?  Simply because they have nothing akin to the Treasure Act and PAS that encourage the public to report finds so they can be recorded and used to tell us something about the distribution and use of historical coinage. But why don't they have such a system?  Well, perhaps because its not primarily about conservation for their cultural bureaucracies, but rather mostly about control.


Paul Barford said...

and the United States of America?

An interactive website showing findspots of colonial period pottery from various sources for example? I believe there was a lot from various British kilns, and it can largely be sourced. Or indeed the many and varied coin types in use in colonial times tied to their place of issue? Why is there not one? When will America - where metal detecting in effect started - get a Portable Antiquities Scheme?

Why would an observer writing from the centre of the heartland of Colonial America pick on the "Italians, Greeks, Cypriots and Bulgarians" without a thought for the information available to citizens of his own country?

Cultural Property Observer said...

We've been through this before. It would be great if a University started a voluntary recording program, but there is no budget for such a thing on a state or federal level. Also, our country has not taken the tact of the countries mentioned in claiming all artifacts found in the ground as state property, supposedly to care for the artifacts, but in practice its far more about control.

Paul Barford said...

and there would magically be a budget for it in Bulgaria, Italy, Cyprus and Greece? How come?

Yes, we've been through this before, but you still think that the USA is somehow an exception to the demands you place (on behalf of collectors) on other countries. How come? I don't see it like that, for me, The USA is just another country (and one wealthier than many others).

I am also interested to know how you see a PAS-like scheme operating in those countries where all artifacts found in the ground are state property. Presumably your idea that they have a PAS involved removing that claim, so people can legally come forward with what they've dug up, so basically bringing them to the same level of protection as the USA. So the question arises, why should they set up a PAS when the USA will not? Because you tell them to?

It's all very well to come out with glib three line "what ifs" and say "the foreigners are awful for not doing it like this..." but I think I am not alone in feeling a lack here of any attempt to carry through the idea and put it into the wider context.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Like Democracy, PAS and the Treasure Act may not be perfect, but the data collected speaks for itself. I'm sure if you could point to something similar coming from the above mentioned countries you would, but you can't can you?

Do the cultural bureaucracies of Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria really need to warehouse huge numbers of the exact same coin types? Of course not. PAS and the Treasure Act like systems help ensure the State only keeps what is significant and what will be taken care of and studied.

Bulgaria, Greece , Cyprus and Italy are all wealthy EU countries. The cost of the PAS is minimal compared to what they already spend on archaeology as a whole-- the trick is not to keep and hence need to pay for everything. As the PAS itself has noted, what is recorded has become the subject of more than a few PhD dissertations. So why not embrace it?

These countries could also set up auction companies at home where the material that is reported that is returned to the finder can be sold. That could bring much needed business development to these countries. Taxes or fees recovered from such ventures could help support archaeology.

Why not think outside the box? It's clear the status quo has not been working for decades.

The US is different. There are no ancient coins here. Colonial coinage era coinage is very scarce in comparison so even if the money were available it would make little sense to set up a national bureaucracy to run such a program. A good University sponsored recording program could go a long way to recording find spots. Again, I think its a great idea, but well beyond the charter of the ACCG and not in line with my own personal interests. So you are talking about apples and oranges as far as CPO is concerned.