Monday, November 3, 2014

Villa Associated with "Ben Hur" to be Concreted Over

Italian municipal authorities have announced plans to concrete over the villa of the real life arch-enemy of Ben Hur, Roman General Messalla.

Meanwhile, off in the increasingly out-of-touch reaches of archaeological blogosphere, a professor of some academic distinction has dredged up his version of an old exchange concerning the merits of the UK's Treasure Act and PAS as compared to the "state control" approach of countries like Italy.

Yes, much has happened since 1999.  PAS has recorded 1 million finds.  And, what of the supposedly superior "Italian approach?"   Click on the label for "poor stewardship" and make up your own mind.


John H said...

Nothing new here Mr Tompa, it's David Gill being David Gill; the anti-detecting, collecting, whinger extraordinaire, at whose feet Barford prostrates himself.

NOTE where Gill writes:-

Is it time that we heard more about the protection of unrecorded archaeological sites in the UK and less about the recording of portable stuff that has been hoiked out of the ground?

This old chestnut has been around for years, and is carefully worded code for: Let's Schedule the entire land surface as a vast archaeological site, in effect making it a playground for the elite, er, that is, Gill and his pals...and it secures their future employment having it embodied in Law.

It effectively abolishes private collecting and makes criminals out of those who do. Oh, yes, it's a very Soviet notion.

Best wishes

John Howland

Cultural Property Observer said...

A scholar-dealer asked me to post this:

"A simple question is this: What would you rather have, a coin hoard that ends up dispersed but has been found by a metal detectorist and declared so that it could be excavated properly and recorded prior to sale, or a hoard that has been illegally excavated and dispersed? So close down PAS (a la Gill) and make England like Italy. Bravo..."

John H said...

Mr Topma, your 'scholar-dealer' has got it in one.

The success of the PAS, which effectively gives the seal of approval to metal detecting and collecting, is a painful thorn in the side of the Gill/Barford/Swift ensemble who hate the status quo. Hence, they want it closed down.

If they really want to make England more like Italy they would do us all a greater service by campaigning for Italy's weather!

Best regards

John Howland

Cultural Property Observer said...

This post has generated lots of activity on Mr. Barford's blog, much of it a rather tangential discussion of whether this Massalla was or was not the real inspiration for the character in Ben Hur. Be that as it may, our "Scholar-Dealer" has responded to Mr. Barford's latest questions/rant about the Treasure Act and PAS as follows:

1) How many hoards ancient and medieval hoards recovered in England and Wales have been "properly excavated and properly published [die link level] before sale" under the PAS? [let's allow you a level of licence, I presume you meant Treasure Act]

Actually maybe few have because the ones that were immediately declared and then dug up by experts usually were declared treasure trove and bought by a local museum or the state. But, in fact, since the purchase of a hoard by the state is a purchase, even if the payment is officially a reward, what is he talking about? And die link level? Huh?

2) How do you explain the coin hoards reported in England and Wales, quite a number of them, going back to the 18th century, before the Treasure Act? You are familiar with the literature on the pre-PAS ones aren't you (being a "scholar")?

What kind of nonsense is that? Those hoards were reported by local notables who found them of interest. Of course that had nothing to do with the treasure act. They were thought to be of historical importance and would be written about in communications to the Antiquaries Society or wherever.

3) How do you explain hoards reported in Scotland where there is no PAS? You are familiar with the literature on these aren't you (being a "scholar")?

Same reason as above. Also, as in other parts of the UK, many finders feel an obligation to report things - not every finder is ipso facto a crook.

4) Is it the lack of CRIMINALS with whom the dugup antiquities market are willing to deal that is the factor here? Let's have a "scholarly" answer here.

What does this mean? There are no criminals in Scotland?

5) Where does Professor Gill say "close down the PAS"? Let's have a "scholarly" answer here, cite a reference.
Quite true, it is Barford who constantly talks about his hatred for the PAS.

6) In what way does England's Treasure Act (applied to hoards) differ from the Italian legislation regarding stewardship (ownership) applied to hoards? Both vest ownership in the state (in the UK represented by The Crown), there is no difference in the basic pattern of stewardship applied to hoards between the two countries.

Because the English Treasure Act requires the state to properly and fairly compensate the honest finder, whereas the same degree of fairness is NOT present in the Italian laws. Geddit?

P2Pinvested said...

Hi peter, I hope all is well ?

Through your link I have just read David Gills blog for the first time (I wont be going back again) and must say it is garbage.

Its like Paul Barfords blog except its even more tedious.

Anyway, keep up the good work.