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BRITARCH  June 2008

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Subject:

Re: Sustainable archaeology - was archaeology v. treasure?

From:

Peter Twinn <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Peter Twinn <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 27 Jun 2008 12:48:45 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (238 lines)

Paul Barford wrote: After ten years, the PAS database has about 340 000 
(some 60% come from
detectorists) of artefact hunters - so how do you see that as a success? 
What about the 7660000+ other ones?

I class anyone who is willing to record their finds, a detectorist or not, a 
success as all information is important. The problem here Paul is you play 
silly games with numbers. We can all manipulate numbers to fit our argument, 
but you seem to think the bigger the number the more strength to your 
argument.....sorry doesn't wash with anyone except those who want to hear 
your biased side of things.
I don't have a collection I'm afraid you you make an assumption there. All 
my finds are recorded, then anything interesting is offered to the Bristol 
museum and the rest goes back to the landowners. I think you'll find there 
are many detectorist that do the same. As to the number of finds I make, 
well again you take things out of context as a good proportion of these 
finds are flints that I have field walked as I detect. Doing this has 
discovered over 15 stone age sites (which will be the subject of my 
dissertation when I get to it). I have some excellent sites I detect which 
are what I would call above the normal, which means a higher finds rate due 
to location. This is not the case for most of the land I have permission on, 
in fact on average over all the land I detect my finds rate would be pretty 
poor. Remember these figures are from 2003 so you can spread them all out 
over 5 years which with my math is 300 recordable finds each year and at 
least half of those would be flints. Of course detectorist are finding 
artifact's in fields and on beaches, but your figures are way over the top. 
As for collections, I'm not a great fan of them myself, but I take the point 
of view that as long as people record their finds then that's their business 
as at the moment there is not a law against collecting as many archaeologist 
know themselves ; ).

For me the strength of the PAS is its education, they are and will continue 
to outreach to those within the hobby of metal detecting as they do to 
anyone else, but forget instant results as I've always told you. This 
educational process is just that, a process. In my experience people are 
seeing the value of recording and many do, but there are more variables than 
I care to list whereby figures can be right or wrong when it comes to actual 
numbers on the database. Some detectorist go out every weekend, some may 
make it once or twice a month and some may go out once in a blue moon, so 
you see it is difficult to extrapolate any concise figures due to these 
variables.

I'll come back later on some of your other points if I may.
Peter Twinn.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Paul Barford" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 6:17 PM
Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Sustainable archaeology - was archaeology v. 
treasure?


>
> Pete Twinn wants to share the positive news as a "front line user" of the 
> PAS (whatever on earth that is)  and writes
>> I now have over 1000 records recording the details or nearly 1500 finds<
>
> Good for you.
>
> 1) Roger Bland admits there are 8000 metal detector-using artefact hunters 
> in England and Wales (I think the number is slightly higher, but let's 
> accept his figures for a moment). Now, if _each_ of them has personal 
> artefact collections of a similar size, that means there are potentially 
> eight to twelve million _recordable_  artefacts out there which have come 
> out of the archaeological record and into their personal collections in 
> the period you've been detecting. (Phew, I don't know how many artefacts 
> the BM has in its stores after nigh on two hundred years of collecting, 
> but I'd not be surprised if the figures are of a comparable order of 
> magnitude).
>
> After ten years, the PAS database has about 340 000 (some 60% come from 
> detectorists) of artefact hunters - so how do you see that as a success? 
> What about the 7660000+ other ones?
>
> How big _are_ these personal artefact collections? I've seen one that 
> fills a substantial shed. Another member told me of one that fills one 
> wall of a garage (in sacks !). Wouldn't it be useful to have some 
> statistics on this? Why actually do we NOT have statistics on this after 
> ten years of close liaison (who is hiding what from whom)? Is that not 
> actually something that is in fact vital to understanding the Effects of 
> Artefact Hunting on the Archaeological Resource and assessimg how well our 
> policies are coping with the erosion? I would say so.
>
> 2) Furthermore, if (as we now learn) Pete Twinn has single-handedly 
> contributed one third of a percent of those recorded finds, does this not 
> mean that among the loudly trumpeted successes of the PAS annual report 
> figures there are by comparison an awful lot of 'token recorders' among 
> the 4000 detectorists reputed to be contributing to the Scheme? This 
> emphasises how much we really need to know about patterns of detecting and 
> recording activities rather than the simplistic "statistics" we are 
> constantly fed by the Scheme.
>
> 3) >  and the majority of people who do detect will/are
>> coming around to a recording ethos<
> well once again we are coming back to the (false) picture that the PAS is 
> only set up to deal with 8000 detectorists. It is there to outreach to the 
> whole public, isn't it?
>
> So that's still another 54 million people to go. Actually since it went 
> "national" in 2003, according to the annual report figures, it seems PAS 
> has been in direct contact with some 126600 people at some 3350 events. 
> (So at that rate it will take another 213 years to get round to even half 
> the other 53.87 million. That'd cost about 170 million quid at today's 
> prices.)
>
> What message should the PAS be conveying to them about personal portable 
> antiquity collecting? Would it be encouraging them all to take it up to 
> "get involved in archaeology"? (that'd suit the MD dealers of course). Or 
> would it be discouraging them in order to protect the accessible parts of 
> the archaeologicsl record from being totally depleted? What do you reckon 
> Gary, Pete and Steve? What do the quiet archaeological Britarchers think 
> the PAS should be encouraging in the case of 54 million brits who all see 
> the PAS database and want some too - just up to 1500 recordable artefacts 
> each? After all, if its 1500 bits of "our past for all" then that means 
> all, or are we going to be discriminatory?
>
>> So to say that the PAS is so detectorist orientated is just > not true.<
> It should not be, but that is most certainly (despite the finds days) the 
> way it has turned out.
>
> 4) > I offer my time in any way that will help in
>> outreaching the general public,<
> Well, that's great, archaeology being represented to the public by a metal 
> detectorist. And what do you do Pete?
>
> 5) So maybe you would like to tell us how you present the answer to the 
> general public of the eight million pound question:
>
> "When is portable antiquity collecting 'archaeology for all' and when is 
> it not?"
>
> Are Shelby White, Georg Ortiz and  Martin Schoyen "archaeologists"? Are 
> the patrons of Helios Antiquities (near you I believe) 
> http://www.heliosgallery.com/ archaeologists too?
> What about Bron Lipkin's clients http://www.collector-antiquities.com/10/ 
> ?
> Or Mr Paraskevaides' http://www.bidancient.com/ (definitely one to watch - 
> was discussed here a while back).
> Or is it 'archaeology for all' only when you go and dig up your own stuff 
> before pondering its deeper meaning? Where actually do we draw the line, 
> and why please?
>
>
> 6) Also if you really are representing archaeology to the general public 
> in the framework of the PAS, what briefing were you given by the PAS to 
> deal with questions like this? (Did they present you with a copy of their 
> "survival guide for FLOs" before they sent you out there so you'd say the 
> "right things"? A fascinating and _very_ revealing document).
>
> 7) Steve B on the other hand writes:
>> Everything you have stated is merely a personal opinion,<
> I'm sure there is no point in discussing anything with people who've not 
> looked for themselves and are merely mouthing somebody else's opinion.
>
> Is there anything wrong with my having an opinion that does not correspond 
> with that of the three vociferous metal detectorists here? This is (nota 
> bene) an archaeology forum, the PAS is archaeological outreach to the 
> general public (of which metal detectorists and collectors are a 
> _Minority_ interest) and we are all entitled to take a good look at what 
> is going on and form our "own" opinion of it and how well it is doing 
> archaeological outreach and what picture of the discipline it is 
> projecting.
>
> 8) > we in fact MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC same as any
>> other UK resident.<
> Indeed. But you are a minority fraction which has a totally different use 
> for the archaeological record from the rest. I do not see why this means 
> we have to adapt the PAS all the time just to suit the tekkies, which is 
> precisely what is the main reason behind the "campaign" they conducted, as 
> the postings on the MD forums clearly indicate[d].
>
>
> 9) > Not only is the finds data base a unique source of
>> information but it is an extremely useful outreach tool in itself.<
> Is it? And what important message, pray does it convey about the conduct 
> of archaeology? Can you use it to learn about the "value of finds in their 
> context" (PAS Aim 2)? Why, no, because none of the finds there are given 
> _any sort of_  context (!!!). Does the database "increase opportunities 
> for active public involvement in archaeology" (PAS Aim 3)? I'd like to 
> hear how our advocate Pete Twinn explains that one. As far as I am 
> concerned as archaeological outreach there is little substantial 
> difference between a series of pictures and texts of contextless artefacts 
> on the PAS database (or UKDFD) and the one on eBay. Collectors can at 
> least find out "ow much its werf" from eBay. Let us differentiate between 
> archaeology and mere naked artefactology which is not the same thing by 
> any means. Which brings us back to the question posed at the beginning, 
> what is the difference between archaeology and artefact hunting?
>
> Can we get an answer to that maybe in the next round?
>
> As I said at the beginning, to understand how seried rows of loose finds 
> relate to (real) archaeology would need the PAS website to contain some 
> sort of introductory text about what archaeology is, how we go from loose 
> finds (or rather finds in their context) to interpretations of the social 
> past, and where archaeology differs from mere "stamp collecting" as 
> Wheeler put it. Where is the split between archaeological research and 
> mere collecting? That is what, after ten years, is still missing from the 
> PAS archaeological "outreach"  to the public. Given the nature of the 
> "database' and the manner in which most of the "data" are collected, I 
> would have thought that in the case of an archaeological outreach, this 
> was a question crying out for an answer the moment the whole thing was set 
> up. Wouldn't you? Instead the Scheme and its supporters have been busy 
> dodging this _fundamental_ question for more than a decade. Haven't they?
>
> 10) Steve's > cross information<
> Are we talking about the same database? :>)
>
> Go on, show me. The (in)famous Fulstow, Lincolnshire "Lead curses" 
> LIN-57B091  LIN-57F021  and LIN-5806B6.... what else was found in that 
> field and from that site? Is there anything there to show the site would 
> have contained votive objects? There's no cross referencing to speak of is 
> there? No context for these finds. Like most of the rest.
>
> [Steve]
>> I challange you that the PAS more than fills it remit of public outreach, 
>> in ways you have not even stopped to consider Paul.<
> My reply is that it is NOT doing so in so many ways of which it would seem 
> artefact hunters and collectors are unwilling to even take into 
> consideration Steve.
>
>
> 11) [Pete]
> > We do have a finite resource and yes we do need to
>> get it recorded,<
> Jeepers. Some of us feel instead that we should be doing all we can to 
> preserve it and not use it all up at once for short term purposes, like 
> somebody's personal entertainment and profit. The Valetta Convention must 
> be wrong then.  Oh and the IFA and the EAA not to mention the AIA. They 
> are all wrong. Maybe the PAS should tell them, and why.  I'd be interested 
> to see them try.
>
> Paul Barford
>
>
>
> 

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