No reason at all. Currently national or State-wide co-ordination of finds made by US detectorists exists, nor are there any ‘signposts’ directing researchers who for example might want to track down expert detectorists in US Civil War artefacts, or even, the sites of skirmishes, campsites, or river crossings. Only detectorists are pro-active in historical research with new data added daily.
To negotiate this fragmentation, a central State agency similar to the UK’s PAS is required. At the very least, a central register of detecting experts along with their sphere of expertise will prove invaluable
This from the UK’s PAS website:–
The Portable Antiquities Scheme is currently developing its potential as a tool for “lifelong learning”. The Scheme’s database now holds nearly 700,000 [soon to reach 1 million] objects and over 300,000 images. The records of these objects that our staff, volunteers and the public contribute are quite often the only chance we will get to document their existence. The database provides us with a record of their attributes and an image (if available.)
We make our data available freely, under a creative commons licence, for the academic and lay communities to use for their research. We also have a team of finds specialists (the National Finds Advisers) who are available to answer queries on specific periods/ object types.
Quite apart from its value as an unrivalled research source, the PAS overwhelmingly represents and records finds made by metal detectorists. The UK’s PAS is the perfect template for a US-style version.
A PAS serves several functions; not least by addressing that which Rob Bendus, State Historic Preservation Officer and director of the DOS Division of Historical Resources told the Press: “Artifacts are a finite, non-renewable resource. When they are taken, destroyed or stored in private collections without being documented, they, and the history they represent, are gone forever.”
Bendus ironically, proves the value of a UK-style PAS-type scheme in the US. At a stroke, it shrugs off two anomalies; firstly, by supporting private collectors. Secondly, the State is sanitized of pandering to, or supporting, the totalitarian dogma promoted by the same politico-archaeos working to agendas to outlaw private collections and collectors.
The problem is these detector-hating apparatchiks with their rabid heritage dogma have demonstrably, the ear of easily-led politicians.
Collecting is both wholesome and legal. With a PAS in operation, the State gets to see and record all that’s found and is thus able to purchase from finders those items it wants and at the going commercial rate. What could be fairer?
For the detectorist, the PAS is a boon. Every artefact recorded has a provenance. Should the State not want to buy it, it’s returned to the finder with a written provenance proving it was legally found, a fact that adds confidence in the buyer and in the value to the piece itself. Indeed, it further protects at best the detectorist from unfounded accusations of theft, misappropriation or at worst, a night in the slammer!
Why would anyone oppose such a brilliant scheme? Just take a look at Florida’s bureaucracy (for example) and the detector-averse archaeologists, academics, and State officials (for example), who feed the red-tape monster. Archaeologist Lisa MacIntyre excepted! Now she’s a go-ahead gal, who, with the right support could pioneer ground-breaking changes across the State.
In the UK the PAS – now nearing 1.5million detector-found items – is central in providing priceless information on 656 research projects ranging from Master Degree level through to archaeological society projects.
So, why not a Portable Antiquities Scheme State-side or elsewhere? No reason at all.