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BRITARCH  February 2012

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Subject:

Re: The perverse incentives forcing amateurs to dig up sites

From:

"PETTS D.A." <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 3 Feb 2012 21:22:06 -0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (199 lines)

ok- let's look at your suggestions
 
1. First amateurs who identify sites to be recognised as the finder in all reports referring to that site.
 
Absolutely- I fully agree- indeed whenever it is relevant and appropriate the identifier of a site should be mentioned- indeed as far as I'm aware, it is standard practice. Of course, it depends to a certain extent on context - if I say, "There are many round barrows found in the Chester Hills of Tatshire" - I am not going list all of them and mention specifically who identified them. This has nothing to do with an amateur/professional divide. Often in the sites I've mentioned in my work I frankly have no idea whether the person named as discoverer is amateur or a professional. Significantly, there is no way I can identify the discoverer if they do not identify themselves by reporting it to an appropriate location (e.g HER). This is basic courtesy and academic practice- the status of the discoverer should not (and in my experience doesn't) make a difference.
 
2. Where possible, amateurs finding sites to be consulted about work on th site and to be involved in further work
 
Fully agree- although again it doesn't make any difference whether the discoverer is amateur or professional. If someone is known to have a particular interest in a site then the usual procedure is to keep them in the loop where possible. Of course again it's context specific- I wouldn't expect to be consulted about archaeological work on a minor crop mark I identified after mooching about on Google Earth on a Saturday night. I would expect to be in the loop if I spent a lot of time doing additional map work, field survey, library research and discovered a significant site. But again, this has nothing to do with amateur/professional, it is basic courtesy.  Once more, an amateur can only be kept in the loop if they have reported the site, recorded an active interest in it with the appropriate people (again, usually an HER).
 
3. Any artefacts from such sites will be covered by treasure trove rules wih if anything higher rewards where the site is kept intact.
 
 I'm afraid you've lost me there- in England (and I know you are in Scotland where the rules are slightly different) the finds all belong to the landowner (unless it's 'treasure' when the treasure act kicks in). Having identified a site where treasure is subsequently found gives no legal or moral right to any financial results- and this applies equally to professionals and amateurs. 'Treasure' has been found on archaeological digs, but in all my time in archaeology I have never heard of any archaeologists involved in their discovery benefitting financially from it in anyway. This issue of financial reward resultant on finds made seems a complete non-issue. Just doesn't happen- amateur or professional.

I re-iterate, the only way for a site (and its discoverer) to be known about is if it's reported to an HER or similar. Being 'dog in a mangerish' about sites seems rather pointless to be honest As Andrew said, all HERs in my experienve are more than happy to record who found a site. More importantly, by cultivating a good relationship with your local HER officer, you are far more likely to be kept in the loop and information to be shared - for example, I know when I was working with an HER, I knew a local guy was researching a particular holy well. By happenstance whilst looking for something else I came across some 18th century drawings of the site whilst looking for something else entirely- because the guy had been in contact regularly and had shared his information I was able to pass on my discoveries to him. If you want people to recognise ones discovery or research the key thing is to make it easy for them- publish it, get it out there in a local journal or just the quarterly newsletter of your local archaeological society. Once it's in the literature, then the site (and authorship) can be cited, referred to and becomes better known. If you don't share then you can't complain if no-one acknowledges your work; in the worst case scenario (and I've known this happen), someone else will find the site, publish it and get the recognition - not in a deliberate attempt to grab someone's glory- simply because the original discoverer had never shared their material (and on a more practical note, if you don't share the information how do you know the sites not been discovered before).

Mike, I have to agree with Paul, you seem very vehement on this matter, suggesting you feel you've been stung or hard done by in a particular case. As I said, I'm not saying that every professional is courteous, sharing and socially responsible (and believe me, neither is every amateur...). However, all I can say is that in my experience the situation is far far more positive than you imply and long may it continue that way

cheers

David





 
 

________________________________

From: British archaeology discussion list on behalf of Michael Haseler
Sent: Fri 03/02/2012 18:21
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] The perverse incentives forcing amateurs to dig up sites



David,

the simple fact is that I feel people like me are being taken for a ride.

You want us to behave like professionals ... to respect sites, to not
dig them up ... but then you expect us to write up our work for free
with no surety of recognition or involvement in further investigation of
site and the really stupid thing is that unless we dig it up we are
specifically excluded from any kind of financial reward under treasure
trove.

In short ... the better we try to be, the better we respect the
archaeology, THE LESS WE GET REWARDED!!!

So, let me put forward what I see as fair:

1. First amateurs who identify sites to be recognised as the finder in
all reports referring to that site.
2. Where possible, amateurs finding sites to be consulted about work on
the site and to be involved in further work.
3. Any artefacts from such sites will be covered by treasure trove rules
with if anything higher rewards where the site is kept intact.



On 03/02/2012 17:55, PETTS D.A. wrote:
> Mike
> I do find this idea of the 'professionals' feathering their nests at the 'expense' of amateur a frustrating and perplexing cliche. The majority of the professionals I know go regularly and significantly over and above the call of duty to work alongside community groups and individuals,. Equally, across the country there are countless groups and individuals who quite happily work with professionals doing serious good work without anyone feeling on either side they are being exploited or 'cut out' of the loop.
>
> Just off the top of my head, in my stamping ground, there is great collaborative work with local groups being done (or done in recent years) by the
> -North Pennines AONB http://www.northpennines.org.uk/Pages/Altogetherarchaeology.aspx
> -my own work at Binchester which involves significant collaboration with the Durham Northumberland Arch&  Arch http://binchester.blogspot.com/
> -Swale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group http://www.swaag.org/
> -Coquetdale Community Archaeology http://www.ccarch.co.uk/
> -Durham and Northumbeerland Rock Art Project http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=1634
>
> All involving professionals and amateurs working together quite happily wihtout anyone getting the hump, feeling exploited or demanding reward.
>
> LIke a previous comment, I've often reported sites I've found at the weekend to the local HER- to be honest, I've no idea whether I've been credited- never checked.  In my experience when a site is reported to the HER (I'm not sure why you reported a site to the Treasure Trove people), the information is put on file, so the information about the discoverer is recorded. I'd certainly not feel that it was somehow 'my site' just because I reported it. Yes, if it was a site I was really interested in I'd feel a little protective- I'd probably ask the local HER officer to let me know if anyone else became interested in it. If they were, I'd approach them and look to see how we could collaborate. What kind of recognition do you want? If you want more people to know about it, as soomeone suggested, submit it to Archaeology in Scotland or knock up a note for your local archaeological journal, create a blog/website- the outlets are endless
>
> I'm particularly flummoxed by your idea that someone could 'profit' from it- how precisely would Joe Bloggs reporting an Iron Age widget pit in Upper Trumpington be exploited financially by Professor Jones at Lower Trumpington University- I'm unclear
>
> Enough of this carping- your picture of an exploiting and brooding 'profession' exploiting a willing but gormless army of amateurs for professional recognition and financial reward (ha!) simply isn't born out. I'm not denying occasionally there have been the off clash of personality, occasional exploitation (on both sides), but overall the picture is incredibly positive
>
> David
>
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________
>
> From: British archaeology discussion list on behalf of Michael Haseler
> Sent: Fri 03/02/2012 17:19
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] The perverse incentives forcing amateurs to dig up sites
>
>
>
> Vince,
>
> what I'm really annoyed about is the perverse incentives.
>
> Like most professionals, most amateurs would be happy just to get
> recognition - a reward would be nice, but recognition is more than
> enough for most.
>
> Unfortunately, given the huge power imbalance between amateur and
> professional - and a lot of amateur bashing I've seen here over the
> years which to be honest hasn't endeared me to professional - I'm not at
> all happy with the idea of relying on the goodwill of someone I don't
> know to receive the proper recognition for my work. Indeed, some here
> seem to think us amateurs should go out of our way to encourage our work
> to be taken by academic or commercial archaeologists who can then claim
> all the credit.
>
> All I really want is surety that my work will be recognised - the only
> way I can see to get that is to go out with a spade and dig up the site.
>
> And to be frank, as far as I can see this is simply short-sighted
> professionals feathering their own nests at my expense ... over-playing
> the importance of "paid" work and downplaying the important role of
> amateurs who clearly have just as much right to have their work
> recognised and just as much right to have a say over what happens to
> their sites as anyone else.
>
> Mike
>
> On 03/02/2012 16:18, Vince Russett wrote:
>> Afternoon, chums! (and especially Mike)
>>
>>
>>
>> I don't see the split between professionals and 'amateurs' here,
>> especially since I regard myself as a bit of both, having been trained
>> in the amateur world and worked as a professional for just over 20
>> years.
>>
>>
>>
>> Sites don't need to be necessarily excavated to find what they are.
>> Earthwork survey, walkover survey (if ploughed or infested with
>> badgers), geophysical survey (cosy up to your local university or big
>> group that has bought its own kit), documentary and cartographic study:
>> you can find a lot of things out without digging.
>>
>>
>>
>> Check out this web site of a community archaeology group I work with to
>> see what can be done without excavation (well, we did one small
>> excavation to test some geophysics in an area about to be trashed by
>> graves).
>>
>>
>>
>> www.ycccart.co.uk<http://www.ycccart.co.uk/>
>>
>>
>>
>> Vince
>>
>>
>>
>> Vince Russett
>>
>> County Archaeologist
>>
>> Development Management Group
>>
>> North Somerset Council
>>
>>
>>
>> Our Historic Environment Record is now on-line: Go to the North Somerset
>> web site (http://www.n-somerset.gov.uk <http://www.n-somerset.gov.uk/> <http://www.n-somerset.gov.uk/>  ) then use the tabs Environment /
>> Conservation / Archaeology/ Historic Environment Record. Enjoy!
>>
>>
>>
>> Landline: 01934 426456
>>
>> Mobile:    07919 265644
>>
>>
>>
>> Please note my work hours are usually 8am to 4pm
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Keeping in touch
>> Do it online - visit our website at www.n-somerset.gov.uk
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