Dayhawking – an old menace

It’s a question I and others have posed many times; Why are amateur archaeological ‘magpies’ not reporting finds to the Portable Antiquities Scheme? While official PAS figures show that it has nearly 1-5million detector-found artefacts on it database, whereas those having an archaeological provenance are almost non-existent. Why this huge discrepancy?

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Why Not a Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) for the US or Elsewhere?

ancient antique antique map atlas

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.

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The Global Heritage Alliance…

…Is a powerful US advocacy organization representing the interests of collectors, museums and the trade in archaeological and ethnological objects. As nearly all detectorists are themselves collectors to one degree or another, the GHA is on their side. They are also the beneficiaries of its powerful advocacy.

Among the GHA’s many priorities, it seeks, “…to restore balance in US government policy in favor of fostering appreciation of ancient and indigenous cultures and the preservation of archaeological and ethnographic artifacts for the education and enjoyment of the American public.”

The Global Heritage Alliance is governed by an eminent and internationally respected cadre of Native American Art experts, museum professionals, and authoritative numismatists, who are all at the top of their respective games: –

President: Arthur Houghton BA, MA – Archaeology and museum polymath. Currently President of the Cultural Policy Research Institute.

Executive Director: Washington DC, Attorney, Peter K Tompa – board member of the Committee for Cultural Policy, and a former vice-chair of the American Bar Association’s Art & Cultural Heritage Law Committee.

Treasurer: Robert Gallegos – Is a former President of the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association in which he has served in a variety of board posts.

Secretary: John Molloy – President of ATADA, the Antique Tribal Dealers Association, a professional organization dedicated to upholding standards in the antique tribal art field.

Co-Founder: Matthew Polk – Founder of The Historic Textile Research Foundation, whose mission it is to develop a database of textile related carbon dating information for reference use.

Dr. Gary Vikan: Serves on the Leadership Council of Johns Hopkins’ Brain Science Institute, on the Advisory Council on Culture and the Arts of the Salzburg Global Seminar, on the founding Board of Culture Kettle in Santa Fe, on the Committee for Cultural Policy in New York City, and is a Councillor of the Maryland State Arts Council.

Of its many facets, the GHA advocates something that’s close to mine and many detectorists hearts, ”…that archaeological digs be subject to reasonable regulation aimed at ensuring site security, the prompt publication of finds and the provision for fair, living wages for local employees.”

In the UK, hundreds of thousands of items dug from archaeological excavations languish in sheds, outhouses, barns and anywhere else that’s convenient – tragically without written provenance.

The recording of ‘finds’ from archaeological excavations ought to be mandatory especially when a third party – say a developer – is legally required to fund them. There must be   the attendant penalties for lawbreakers. Archaeology per se should be brought under the auspices of the Portable Antiquities Scheme to ensure proper recording.

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Coastal coins

One of coastal hunting’s great pleasures is – for me at least – searching the remoter stretches for sites where coins and other artefacts wash ashore. Intriguingly, you’ll never know precisely what’s coming your way and identifying artefacts, especially coins, can be a nightmare.  But help is at hand.

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Kismet, Hardy, et al.

Oh, how I’m loving this. It’s truly gratifying, heart-warming even, for an old sceptic like me, watching the anti-detecting brigade’s  turd polishers in full panic mode. Here they are rushing about  like headless chickens  trying to burnish both the heavily tarnished ersatz data that is Heritage Action’s widely censured ‘Artefact Erosion Counter,’ and Dr Sam Hardy’s laughable, academically slammed, anti-metal detecting research Paper.  The  fox of truth is running wild in the  henhouse of bullshit. *Update

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