> How would you specify what is required, John?
> The PAS scheme does, of course, cover more than one
> type of object and material so they need people who
> can identfy a broad range of objects. I think it is
> reasonable, therefore, to specify a degree in
> archaeology as a basic criterion - alongside the
> specific type of work experience that is also a
> criterion for such jobs.
That is an easy question. By far, the people who have the greatest
knowledge of these objects are the dealers -- especially local dealers who
already have a relationship with detectorists and have gained their trust.
I am not talking about Ebay cowboys here. I am talking about people who
have often left well paying careers to follow their love of artefacts and
coins. I know a number of them. One local dealer used to be an oilfield
geologist and gave up a huge income. He is now beginning to take home what
an average secretary would make, but it took him nearly twenty years to
reach that level. He can identify individual die engravers of Roman coins
and tell you what mints they worked at and when.
There is a dealer in Dorset who has a phenomenal knowledge of the
Durotriges. He took me on a tour of many of their sites which he
explained while he would pick up some potsherd lying on the ground to
illustrate his point and then toss it back where he found it. He showed
sites that have yet to be "discovered" and fully explained the economic
basis of that tribe. He knows their coins, their brooches and their pots
and other bits and pieces. He also took a severe pay cut to follow his
love of his local history. He has the accumulated knowledge of a number of
detectorists and has earned their respect by not using that knowledge for
his own profit.
Why not an archaeologist? One answer is that they do not see enough. Out
of curiosity I just looked at one regional study for the La Tene period:
Bodenurkunden Aus Rheinhessen, 1927. There were just over 50 brooches and
fragments of such from excavations in that region -- grave goods. Now how
many archaeologists and how many years and how many sites? -- I didn't
look, but you get the point. An average British dealer might list that
many brooches in a single month. His, often paltry, income depends on his
working knowledge and he gets to understand his local region very well.
Think about Heisenberg's 1927 "uncertainty" paper in quantum physiscs
--"The more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely the
momentum is known in this instant, and vice versa."
The archaeologist sees the "static particl" -- the detectorist, collector
and dealer sees the "momentum". They are two very different views of the
same material and one can help the other. Each takes a different sort of
knowledge and experience.