My March 10th post “We Can Dig It Or” really hit a nerve with my good friend in Warsaw. He was not happy with my comments, my philosophy nor my intent and decided to refute everything I said in order to display his prowess with words…a lot of words…confusing words. It’s called bullshit. You can read it by clicking here.
I had to respond…
I started off my post with…”We can dig it or wait for the next turn of a farmer’s plow, the next shopping mall, highway, used car lot, tornado, flood or earthquake. We can dig it or let it succumb to the elements, the next fracking well, quarry, man made lake or for all eternity. Then again we can dig it and share it with the public, or wait for that government funded archaeological expedition to discover it, dig it, analyze it, write about it, then store it away in a university or museum basement”.
“I wonder what the notion of “sharing with the public” of a metal detectorist’s haul actually is. Mr Stout’s lifelong collection of dugup relics for example? I suppose the PAS could be seen in a way as fulfilling this function, but Texas has no such Scheme. What, in any case, is being “shared”? “I’ve got this thing in a carton in my garage”, or “here is the precise information about the context of deposition and discovery of these items”? It’s not really likely to be about the context of anything discovered with a metal detector if Mr Stout continues:”
Next I stated…Frankly I am tired of hearing the archaeological community talk about context, i.e., nothing should be disturbed less all things historical will be destroyed. Check! Got it! Over and out! Bottom line… they do not want you, I or anyone to bother an as yet unknown, unidentified, undesignated, nameless and “what just might be” historic site.
“It’s what we call conservation. Likewise we don’t want pressed flower enthusiasts digging up orchid meadows, bird egg collectors climbing the elms to steal wild bird eggs, crazy guys with rifles blowing the heads off endangered species of mammals or birds, and fossil hunters bashing away at pre-cambrian Burgess shale outcrops, or people unscrewing the bronze plaque from a war-memorial. It’s what we call conservation, and most people see the sense in that. The metal detectorist however tries to prove that conservation is not what the public want”.
I then go on…How many visitors to a museum do you think really give a rat’s ass about context? What percentage…50%, 10%, 2%? What do you think? I am guessing that the only folks who care about context are archaeologists. Yes they have gone to school, studied hard, earned their degrees, but by and large their profession is based on a lot of guesswork and assumption. Better than nothing? Sure it is but let’s not pretend it’s an “exact” science.
His take on this?
“As for the profession, note the disdain for education. I suspect that Mr Stout’s actual knowledge of archaeological method is about as extensive as that of his guffawing and equally self-opinionated mate “Two-lessons Bill”. The narrativisation of a decontextualised find made with a metal detector, is that not far more based on “a lot of guesswork and assumption”? In what way is it not? Later on, Mr Stout reveals adherence to the misconception that archaeology is done as a haphazard “stumbling across things with a government grant”. If he’s been listening to Missy Lisa, I wonder just what they teach folk on the archaeology course at the University of Florida. According to him:”
The following is from Science Forums, and while the pros and cons are further debated this pretty much sums up MY feelings:
The next statement I made that he had a problem with….The archaeological community hates it when someone without a degree, someone who perhaps never even graduated high school, someone just having fun, finds a Staffordshire Hoard or Garrett Helmet….
“The problem with this find was not so much that it was found, but where actually it had been found, why the detectorists were up among the earthworks on unploughed pasture, and what happened to that find afterwards, leading to an almost total loss of information at every step of the way, beyond the simple fact that it “is” and some say its pretty (after restoration). Having “fun” is one thing, having fun at the expense of everyone’s knowledge of the shared past is quite another thing, and I think there is no reason to avoid discussing situations like this to see how we can change things. It is worth reflecting a moment about in whose interest it would be to prevent an change occurring leading to the increase of information deriving from hobby artifact hunting. What kind of people are they, and are they a majority in society, or a minority?”
Then out of the clear blue sky he finishes up with this..
“Over to you Ms McIntyre. These metal detectorists have been generous with their money and their opinions, now it is time to hear yours.”
And so it goes in Wally World….