About John Howland

I enjoy reading most archaeologists' obits with the same fervour that many of them wait to read mine. Retired editor; but still an active treasure hunter and collector.

Last Chance to Have Your Say…ACT NOW!

Public Consultation on Treasure Act Ends April 30th

US Attorney Peter Tompa, a fierce defender of numismatists, collectors, and detectorists worldwide has posted a timely reminder. Ignore his words at your peril : – Continue reading

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Institutionalized Prejudice?

Battlefield archaeologist and television archaeology presenter, Tim Sutherland, who’s also a tutor at the University of York’s Department of Archaeology made an illuminating quote in an interview with The Post Hole, an archaeology journal run by the University’s students. Continue reading

The Hypocrisy of Archaeology – Or, Cornering the Market!

When ‘approved’ individuals burst into a burial chamber it’s called archaeology – or worse, rescue archaeology – but when the same is done by self-financed private explorers, or, archaeological entrepreneurs, the ‘approved individuals’ call it, somewhat  hypocritically  looting, or, tomb robbery.

What’s galling for many of the ‘approved’ self-appointed archaeological élite is that when knowledgeable but unapproved entrepreneurs come up with the goods – as they frequently do – their expertise becomes increasingly valuable to museums, scholars, and private collectors. In terms of research, the ‘approved’ élite are mainly reactive; unapproved entrepreneurs are proactive costing the hard-pressed taxpayer  nothing.

One of the insurmountable problems facing the nationalisation of all antiquities and its loathsome proponents is that unapproved entrepreneurs are in the main highly  knowledgeable generalists, while the ‘approved’ self-appointed archaeological élite are myopic specialists divorced from – archaeologically speaking – everything and anything outside their  spectrum of interest. The rivalry of the ‘approved’ self-appointed archaeological élite is dog-eat-dog; fighting for a recognition that no-one outside of archaeology gives a tinker’s cuss. Reality? That’s for lesser mortals.

For example, roman specialists will  gladly smash their way through the upper medieval layers with a mechanical digger without any thought of the vandalism being done to later periods of history.

So, what’s the fate of the artefacts recovered by these specialist vandals? Well actually, not a lot. Mostly they end up languishing unrecorded, unloved,  never to see the light of day locked away in alarm-free sheds, outhouses, in cupboards and boxes; often easy meat for burglars as was recently demonstrated.

Unlike experienced amateurs who regard these artefacts as valuable articles of trade, to be treasured, and preserved, the ‘approved’ self-appointed archaeological élite only see them as objects to be kept away from private collectors. Excavation reports too, are rarer than rocking-horse dung; those that do emerge blinking into daylight could well be collectors items in their own right.

It has been said that, “when the state crowds out the free market and its incentives, the quality of goods and services declines dramatically.”

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Here’s a Keeper!
At Davos 2019 recently, it was reported that Poland’s Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said he was happy that “more and more” Poles are returning home.

Well good for you, Mateusz. And there’s one sphincter I know with dual Polish/British nationality to whom you are more than welcome…

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