Friday, June 26, 2015

Archaeo-Blogger Finds FOIA

It's good to see that one archaeo-blogger, who previously criticized the ACCG's efforts to seek information about import restrictions from the State Department, has now embraced the process himself as important to the public's right to know.  Will wonders never cease.


John H said...

Er...Peter, I'm advising caution when dealing with that intellectual giant, Paul Barford.

Though he often seems to be unable to distinguish the difference between his collecting rectum and his archaeological elbow, he demonstrates an utterly brilliant mind, though sometimes his utterly brilliant intellect in the detecting/collecting debate sometimes appears confused.

He often presses into service the thoughts of radical French philosophers to prop up his radical views on collectors and numismatists. His sojourn with and apparent approval of Polish Communism in the late '80s where Catholic priests and political dissidents where eliminated by the StB as a matter of course, and his lack of any condemnation of State sponsored violence, proves us all wrong - that the State sponsored suppression of opponents is a good thing. His utterly brilliant intellect tells us so!

We lesser mortals must agree.

In awe.


John Howland

Paul Barford said...

Mr Tompa, I "found" FOIs a long time ago. My objections were not to the ACCG using FOI requests, but what the target was. As of course you well know but refuse here to admit.

Now what is this about "French philosophers"[plural] What are you people on about? What "radical views" in anything I have written are "propped up" by "radical French philosophers". Maybe since this is a blog on collecting and cultural property, you'd like to quote a few of those philosophical remarks and say why you disagree with them. That would be far more useful than your usual series of personal attacks and sniping (as here) intended to "discredit" the authors of arguments which you have no intention or (apparently) competence to address.

As for Poland in 1986, which is mentioned here, I think we'd all be grateful for a few names of those "Catholic priests" [plural] "eliminated by the StB as a matter of course" (and what is the StB, please?), and let's have the names of those "political dissidents" [plural] who were reportedly "eliminated by the StB as a matter of course". Names please Mr Tompa, for your readers would probably not like to learn that you have been publishing here FALSE and defamatory comments about a third party without checking. Names please Mr Tompa, Catholic priests and "political dissidents" "eliminated" in Poland in 1986-1989.

What would be your explanation of the many thousands of priests and many thousands (millions) of political dissidents in the culmination of the Solidarity years that were NOT "eliminated"? I mean, Lech Wałęsa for example, Jacek Kuron, those that went on to make up the Polish post-communist government. If political dissidents were "eliminated as a matter of course:" as your blog asserts, why did these people not get "eliminated"? Why is my local parish priest, Ks. Wojciech, who celebrates 40 in the priesthood this year not among the "eliminated as a matter of course"? He certainly was against teh Communist and yet is living witness that what you published in your blog, ONCE AGAIN IS WRONG, JUST PLAIN WRONG.

Do you actually have the slightest inkling of the FACTS behind what you are publishing here? Why not just stick to writing about coins and coinshops and not attempt to venture into political comment for which you are so evidently ill-prepared? Maybe that's why so much of CPO is simply personal attacks on Barford, Gill, Elkins, Knell and others rather than anything of real merit. Because you've not actually got anything to say beyond petty nastiness about others? Why do you not grow up and stop this nonsense? Can you do that? Is there a reason why only metal detectorists comment here regularly, not a single one of the 50000 collectors of ancient coins the ACCG claims to "represent"? Metal detectorists who can't spell Mr Tompa, how low can a Washington lawyer sink?

A fine "representative" the IAPN has chosen itself, that says a lot about those "professionals".

Cultural Property Observer said...

I'll publish Mr. Barford's comment that responds to Mr. Howland as a matter of fairness to him and let the reader judge the comments and context themselves.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Some additional context for those not familiar with Communist Poland. For more on Martial law instituted to save the Polish Communist regime see For more on the political murder of a Polish priest by Communist autorities seełuszko

In CPO's view, Barford is purposefully mischaracterizing Mr. Howland's comment so he can claim that Mr. Howland is misrepresenting what Polish Communists did during their last years in power. Martial law took place in the early 80's and during that period appoximately 90 people will killed including a Polish priest who was murdered as a threat to the regime. One way or another, CPO would hope all would agree that Polish Communism (imposed by Stalin) was awful for the Polish people. The Poles themselves certainly don't seem to feel much nostalgial for those days, and, indeed, if anything, presumably are concerned about what Russia is doing to their Ukranian neighbor.

In any event, Mr. Barford has yet to explain why he went to Communist Poland in 1986, what he did there or even provide a CV. All will help others judge for themselves the context of his own comments about cultural property issues.

Paul Barford said...

Mr Howland (above) is explicitly referring to the country I went to at the time when I went there (1986). The events you describe pre-date that, the situation was a rapidly changing one. This blog persists (suggesting that communism in Poland in 1986-9 was the same as that "introduced by Stalin" [facilitated by FDR of course at Yalta]) in confusing 1980s Poland with 1950s Soviet Union - ignorance or 'deliberate misrepresentation'?

The information published here without comment was that "Catholic priests" (plural) were "eliminated as a matter of course" in 1986 Poland. That is NOT TRUE. You had not checked your facts before approving that comment and cannot provide any evidence to back up the claim - which of course has nothing at all to do with "cultural property".

Your blog published a comment that "political dissidents [plural] were eliminated as a matter of course" - again you cannot back up that false claim. "Ninety people" were not killed in 1986 (please provide the source of information so we can see it in context - was it a book?). You have not the faintest idea of the realities behind the glib claims you publish here in order to "discredit" your opponents (but instead bringing deep discredit on your own lobbying in favour of the coin industry and those who sponsor it).

Neither have you clarified what the "StB" was - your correspondent claims to have knowledge who was behind (really?) the kidnapping of a priest, but uses the wrong abbreviation, the Singapore Tourist Bureau had nothing to do with it.

>>The Poles themselves certainly don't seem to feel much nostalgial [sic] for those days<<
"They" don't "seem" on what evidence? Can you provide evidence to justify that "certainly"? I bet you cannot, because you are totally wrong, the nostalgia (like the German "Ostalgia") is however for something else than the picture your imagination paints. You use the word "certainly" but are once again just publishing your narrow Washington Reaganist stereotype as fact.

Finally, my personal life is absolutely nothing to do with you or your coin-collecting, antiquity-dealing and metal detecting readers. I have no reason to want to "justify" my views to you or anyone else and observe a paradox that self-labelled "independent scholars" expect me to establish my "position of authority" so they can treat what I write as pronouncements "ex cathedra" as it were. I make no such call to authority on my blog, I write what I write out of concern for the issues I raise, take it or leave it, discuss it if you will. Mr Howland's degrees have never been asked for here, yet you obviously place very high score on what he says. Metal-detectorist Stout also, how many post-graduate degrees has he and in what? Neither, I suspect, have you any formal qualifications in either archaeology, numismatics (yes?), museum studies or even "cultural studies" which you feel qualify you to appoint yourself a "cultural property observer" to discuss all of these things. You apparently feel comfortable discussing these things without any such qualifications, but (on the rare occasion you promote one instead of the personal attacks with which you replace them) expect to have your arguments treated on their merits.

You can stop this blog getting sidetracked onto side issues if you moderated comments keeping your commentators in line and on the topic of the post instead of attempting to turn every other discussion into an attack on a third person. Can you do that Mr Tompa? For the sake of those you "represent"? At NO TIME was Peter Tompa blocked from commenting on MY blog.

Full name: Paul Barford - Warsaw, Poland - basis for interest: person mentioned in this post and subsequent comments. Saturday 7:21 AM.

Cultural Property Observer said...

I think you should read what you say on your own blog about people with whom you disagree. You make some good points, but all too often they are wrapped up in so many insults that they are hard to find. The original blog post here was under the category satire/humor/irony and Mr. Howland's comments could certainly be taken in that spirit. You may not like his humor, but it is a reaction to what appears daily on your own blog. As for your qualifications and reasons for going to Poland in 1986 (an unusual choice to say the least given the fact that the country was still under Communism and martial law had recently ended), they appear to me to be quite relevant for helping others to judge where your own opinions are coming from. My CV is posted on I'm sure Mr. Howland would be happy to provide you and others with something about his own background. I'm not aware of anyone else with academic pretentions who is so coy about providing a CV. The assumption is that a CV can give one some idea of one's qualifications to give an opinion. Since you have many opinions that you freely express (often in the most harsh terms), why not provide one so people can judge for themselves your qualifcations for making them?

Going forward, I will let you respond to posts that explicitly mention you personally. I will reconsider my ban on you making other posts depending on how you express your opinions going forward on your own blog. I only put a ban on place after you personally insulted me instead of just sticking to the issues. I don't expect you to change what you put on your own blog, but the offer is there.

Paul Barford said...

"Mr Howland's comments could certainly be taken in that spirit [as humour/satire]"

They "could certainly" also be taken as insult. Insult published on the blog of the IAPN professional lobbyist.

Nevertheless the fact is that YOU published them. Are you therefore saying the post about "elimination as a matter of course" of Catholic priests and political dissidents in Poland is supposed to be HUMOUR? What kind of sick jokes are those? Rather the same category as Mr Howland's recent Auschwitz joke I would say. Auschwitz Mr Tompa. There are no Auschwitz jokes on my blog.

You did not answer the question about the French philosophers.

>>I only put a ban on place after you personally insulted me <<
No you did not, you took exception to a joke picture I used on my blog (also 'humour and satire' there Mr T) which I immediately removed at your request. Despite that, you used it as an excuse to block me from commenting when you found you had no answers to the substantive issues I raised about what you were posting here. The reader can check them all out, they will find only on-topic substantive comments expressed appropriately. It was only after you blocked me that you allowed comments mainly from metal detectorists which were wholly inappropriately formulated and containing utterly false information about me on your blog.

Anonymous said...

My education and background can be found on my blog. I am not an academic, and never pretended to be, and for the record I wish I had never heard the name Paul Barford. You see it was he that found my website, and for whatever reason, decided he needed to insult me (and a close friend, who happened to part of the post he took issue with). That was my introduction to PB.

Mr. Barford said above:

"Finally, my personal life is absolutely nothing to do with you or your coin-collecting, antiquity-dealing and metal detecting readers. I have no reason to want to "justify" my views to you or anyone else and observe a paradox that self-labelled "independent scholars" expect me to establish my "position of authority" so they can treat what I write as pronouncements "ex cathedra" as it were. I make no such call to authority on my blog, I write what I write out of concern for the issues I raise, take it or leave it, discuss it if you will."

I decided a long time ago to leave it....

Cultural Property Observer said...

For Mr. Barford, as you know, satire can sometimes reference unpleasant things. And yes, I banned you because I got tired of the insults and decided to stop allowing you an additional platform on my own blog.

I think this is quite appropriate under the circumstances. Read your own blog. My name still appears with some regularity, and always with an insult. (I find myself in some good company.)

In any event, as mentioned above as a matter of fairness, I've reconsidered and decided to let you comment on blogs that mention you personally. Otherwise, you are still banned from commenting for now.

In CPO's opinion, you are a bit thin skinned for someone who likes to dish out abuse so regularly. In any event, any issues with your background would presumably be cleared up if you posted your CV. Not sure why this is such a big deal for you.

Paul Barford said...

Me, thin skinned Mr Tompa? Hmm. I suggest if you'd answered my questions fully and honestly, the "platform" would still be yours. The fact that you did neither left my questions unanswered and your readers wondering.

For the record and information of your readers who are misinformed about me by Mr Stout, the earliest post about Mr Stout's blog on my own is this one: "Detectorists: "a Stake Through the Heart of this Rotten and Putrid Heritage System" Sunday, 1 May 2011 ( I cannot work out which "friend" of his it insults or indeed why he considers it insulting using his text as a source of information. The promised appearance of these "minutemen" never materialised - a figment of somebody's imagination, but a useful pointer to the Luddite attitudes responsible artefact hunters in the UK are up against.

But I suspect the post to which he refers may be a later one, about the looting of the bodies of Civil War fallen in the US and Mr Stout's expressed resistance to the idea that certain historic sites should be preserved and not abandoned to an artefact hunting free for all: 'Fitting the Stereotype' Monday, 16 January 2012 []. Again, if it is considered "insulting" to say we should not loot known and sensitive sites like this, then it shows again what kind of attitudes any attempt to introduce responsible artefact hunting and collecting are up against.

Or perhaps his "first post" is actually the third, "Focus on Metal Detecting: Where are these Artefacts Now?" Monday, 16 January 2012 [] about a photo I found on his blog when looking up the background to the battlefield story - perhaps Mr Stout would like to explain why "where are these artefacts now?" is "insulting"? Who is being "thin skinned" here? I think it is a valid question about artefact hunting in general. In the UK hundreds of thousands of artefacts have been dug out of the ground and recorded, a much larger number have been dug up and not recorded. This is what the heaps of artefacts seen on Mr Stout's friend's living room floor put us in mind of. Perhaps instead of feeling "insulted" that somebody raises this important issue Mr Stout would do better to address the question raised. After all, when an artefact hunter passes away, these unrecorded artefacts either end up in the trash (or get melted as 'scrap'), or they surface on the market as undocumented material. These are all three matters for concern.

Instead of sharing this concern, Mr Stout engaged, together with Mr Howland, on what can only be properly called a nasty vendetta.

This is on a blog called Stout "Standards" which had a section called "who we are" trying to make out what nice guys metal detectorist are [], tellingly it does not appear on the new version of his blog where he and John Howland engage in a concerted campaign of the nastiest of mud-slinging against archaeologists, the CBA, and individuals such as "Warsaw Wally/Willy" (sic) and "Heritage Harry" (sic). It said:

"I think it could help many of you when facing local or state restrictions. It's a collection of letters, articles and personal entries that tell the world what our pastime is about, and just who we really are". No, Mr Stout, it is another type of behaviour which stands out more in the public eye as showing exactly who detectorists are.

Cultural Property Observer said...

I'll let Mr. Howland and Mr. Stout respond once if they desire, then I'll close this out. Amazing how a few line post provoked so many comments.

Dave Welsh said...

Mr. Howland stated (perhaps in irony) that Paul Barford has "an utterly brilliant mind." I believe that Mr. Barford's friends, colleagues and admirers did indeed once perceive that to be so. I respect his knowledge of archaeology and related disciplines (other than numismatics). However, a brilliant mind is no guarantee of achievement in life. Other important qualities are also necessary.

Mr. Barford addressed Dr. Tompa in a characteristically confrontational manner, demanding names (as though engaged in a heated debate) regarding the political situation in Poland in 1986. He often responds to statements perceived to be critical in "full attack mode." This manner of presentation diminished (perhaps even obscured) the impact of apparently valid points. It would have been more effective to clearly recount countering examples and let the reader judge the matter.

Dr. Tompa indicated that he would publish Mr. Barford's comment responding to Mr. Howland "as a matter of fairness to him and let the reader judge the comments and context themselves." It is appropriate to state here my approach regarding comments to my own blog. I will publish comments from any source provided that they add light, not heat, to the discussion. Mr. Barford is free to comment to my blog whenever he likes, when he respects this policy. However, I reject comments from any source that do not respect it.

Mr. Barford restated his longstanding, oft-repeated view that "his personal life" has nothing to do with what he posts in his blog. Certainly, he needs no one's permission to say there whatever he likes. However, some aspects of what Mr. Barford considers to be "his personal life" are indeed relevant, as to how those who read his blog react to it.

These aspects include to his qualifications as an archaeologist, and as an observer of (and commentator upon) events relating to antiquities collecting and metal detecting.

Mr. Barford has not published a curriculum vitae, nor has he disclosed relevant information that would enable readers to make an informed, thoughtful judgement regarding his education, professional experience, political philosophy and motives. All these are essential background necessary to decide how much weight to give to Mr. Barford's remarks and opinions.

Everyone has an inherent "right to privacy," but public figures must be prepared for the reality that the public is interested in them, and that this affects their right to privacy. Actors, actresses, politicians and royalty have long been plagued by "paparazzi" and understandably resent such uninvited attention.

Mr. Barford clearly has developed a "public" which includes those who unreservedly applaud his crusades for "responsible collecting" and against "irresponsible metal detecting." It also includes many who see some merit in his concerns, but dislike his confrontational manner of presentation. It further includes many who see little merit in his views and concerns, instead regarding him as an offensive pest and perhaps even a public nuisance.

Whether Mr. Barford likes it or not, he has deliberately and intentionally made himself a public figure through his blogging activities, and must accept the consequences. These include public interest in learning more about his education, professional experience, political philosophy and motives, and a tendency to wonder why he is reluctant to make this information public.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Anyone else can have one say too. I'll give Mr. Barford, Mr. Howland and Mr. Stout one more say too if they want and then let's close this out.

Anonymous said...

My first reaction to Mr. Barford’s comments was one of anger, but then I realized this is exactly the kind of reaction he aims for and thrives on. I will not go there and honestly he is the worth the time of day.

Mr. Barford stated that his first mention of me was May of 2011, "Stake Through the Heart of this Rotten and Putrid Heritage System".... I just read that post and there was indeed a link to my website, but I was NOT aware of it, nor did I know who Paul Barford was at that time. He first came to my attention when a detectorist in the UK sent me the following link.

PB has since removed the photo ( of my friend, but then that’s nothing new for him. He’s very good at editing and removing things, usually when someone catches him in a lie or threatens legal action.

If you care to enter my name in the “search” area of his blog, you will find numerous postings and comments about me. You can also do the same by entering his name in the search area of my blog. There are also numerous mentions on my “website”, but I do not have a “search” link there,, so you are on your own. I will share this one link however, and it again mentions my introduction the man from Warsaw....

I don't care to waste any more time responding to his comments here. I learned a long time ago that trying to discuss anything with Paul Barford is the equivalent of pissing in the wind.

John H said...

Hello Peter:

The SB (the Polish counterparts of the Czech StB) planned to to kill Catholic Priest, Jerzy Popiełuszko on 13 October 1984 by staging a phoney car accident. The alternative plan to kidnap him was carried out on 19 October 1984. Father Popiełuszko was beaten to a pulp by three Security Police officers, Captain Grzegorz Piotrowski, Leszek Pekala and Waldemar Chmielewski, who then threw his broken body into a water reservoir near Włocławek.

The Służba Bezpieczeństwa, or SB, was Poland’s Communist Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Popiełuszko’s murder became world news so how Barford was unaware of it baffles me. Presumably he was equally unaware of the Poles’ struggle to throw off the shackles of Communism equally baffles, yet in his apparent ignorance of world affairs, he hot-footed it to the Socialist Utopia, where Human Rights did not exist. Was he really such a political Babe-in-the Wood?

I suggest that anyone who gave up life in the Free West to voluntarily live under Communism will always have their actions, ethics, and decision-making abilities called into question. Barford is in no position to lecture or harangue anyone. I read the opening pages of Barford's book on the history of the Slavs - and I thought his praise and homage to the Communist Peoples Republic of Poland (who funded his literary efforts and gave him a job) quite stomach churning. Nowhere has Barford condemned the fundamental rottenness of Communism and that speaks volumes I suggest, though hardly unsurprising.

“Metal detectorists who can't spell Mr Tompa, how low can a Washington lawyer sink?” Barford asks, perhaps not as low as someone claiming to be an archaeologist and who writes… "He certainly was against teh [sic] Communist and…”

Best wishes

John Howland
(Metal Detectorist, Treasure Hunter, and Collector)

Paul Barford said...

The IAPN’s paid lobbyist seems to think that it some way enhances the international social perception of coin collecting to continually engage in sniping and dragging discussion down to a personal level. We note the post is labelled “humo[u]r”, but it is not really all that “funny”. The usual claque of commentators however took the cue and thus we have a series of 15 comments about a single person – rather than any issue with any remote connection to cultural property issues or coin collecting.

Mr Stout has not indicated why he was so “insulted” by my question about the pile of coins on a living room floor. The photo was removed from my blog because Mr Stout requested I remove it, so I did, and yet according to him, this is the reason (really?) for his four year spate of nastiness addressed to not one, but two people, with which he maintains the “Standards” of his blog.

Metal detectorist Howland was at the beginning of this thread quick off the mark to get his usual brand of ad hominem in under yet another CPO post, probably counting on the fact that the blog owner would not allow me to reply (for which I thank him that this time he did). In the past year, the CPO blog has grown a real crop of them. That really gives a good flavour of what coin collectors and the IAPN are all about. The IAPN must be really impressed by this.

Mr Howland thinks it is somehow relevant to the topic of the CPO blog and IAPN lobbying to allege (falsely) that in 1980s Poland [a country I’ll wager he’s not even visited], "Catholic priests" (plural) were "eliminated as a matter of course" and in addition that "political dissidents [plural] were eliminated as a matter of course". He further alleges “Paul Barford […] often presses into service the thoughts of radical French philosophers (plural) to prop up his radical views on collectors and numismatists”. Three accusations, all using the plural form.

When challenged, he forgets the “dissidents” and “French philosophers” paper tiger nonsense, but in an attempt to save face cites a single case for the “Catholic priests” claim based on… the English language version of Wikipedia. He seems not to be aware that there is much missing from his (wikipedia) version of the story – the bits that would undermine the case he’s trying to make from it to use against me. Funny that.

The rest of Mr Howland’s text shows how completely ignorant he is of the circumstances under which I and my family were living here, but really I feel no need to enlarge on any of it. Quite simply this is no business of any Tompa, Welsh, Howland or this blog’s readers. Still less does it have anything to do with my “ethics, and decision-making abilities” as Mr Howland claims. Rather it is Mr Howland’s ethics and decision-making qualities which are in question here, given he has no idea what he’s talking about and yet makes use of imagined facts to attack a third person. Since it is not true, Mr Howland is unlikely to be able to provide proof for his statement above that I "worked for the Communist Peoples Republic of Poland" (and of course, there should be an apostrophe there).

Like the easily offended Mr Stout, this metal detectorist must have a weak stomach if reading the acknowledgements of an academic book published by the British Museum and Cornell University press (who had no such objections) his stomach "churned" so much the poor fellow could not make it beyond page “xiv”.

Cultural Property Observer said...

1. As I've explained over and over again, IAPN has nothing to do with my blog. I do some work for them, but they have absolutely no say in what I write. Under your theory, your employers (who are they?) would be responsible for what you write.

2. It is interesting my short blog prompted that may comments, but I guess you bring out that in people.

3. It's my understanding from the forward of your Slavs book that you thanked the Polish Communist State for the support they provided you for the project. It's also my understanding that you worked for a Polish ministry dealing with archaeological matters under the Communist Government, but as I've noted before you could clear up matters by posting a CV.

4. In any event, without more information, it's easy to assume your association with Polish Communists has informed your views about collectors, US Foreign policy, etc.

5. You say your background is irrelevant, but you say you are an archaeologist and expert on portable antiquities collecting and heritagei issues. If so, it's very odd that you are so coy about your background.

I'm closing further comments to this post. I agree, we've all said enough.