Just leave it in the dirt!

The following article was shared on the “I am a detectorist and I vote” Facebook page and I had to share it here and comment….


Well for starters we once again we hear the archaeological mantra “It’s important that those items sit in the dirt”.

I don’t know about you but I am damn tired of hearing this. It gets old real fast!  Let them sit in the dirt for who and for how long?  The highway crew? The shopping mall developer? The farmer? The tornado, hurricane or flood? Jeezus I just don’t get it.

Apparently we are supposed to stop enjoying our pastime and wait for archaeologists to discover that particular piece of ground, that particular area of interest, then request the funding they need to excavate it and… if we’re lucky somewhere down the road whatever they find just “might” show up in a museum exhibit where we can see it.  On the other hand my best guess is that whatever they recovered would be stored in a drawer, waiting to be labeled or else deemed redundant and not worthy of public display.


Then when referring to the show “Diggers” there’s this comment… “It promotes people treasure hunting and unfortunately they don’t give the proper message. It teaches folks that it’s OK to go out and find this stuff and sell it. It’s teaching people to go out and steal from the public.”

Well yes it does promote treasure hunting and what the hell is wrong with that?  Likewise just what is that “proper message” Mr. Halford is referring to?  I also resent his use of the word “steal”.  It’s totally uncalled for and just wrong.  Do detectorists sell their relics or historical finds?  Most every tekkie I know does not but that is not to say it doesn’t happen.  Then again do archaeologists ever sell items they’ve found?  I suspect they do but don’t wait for them to share that little secret with you.  After all that would be “stealing” from the public too wouldn’t it?


Folks I am telling you we must find a way to counter this kind of misleading BS and we better start soon.  We are treading water and losing ground every day.  I’ve talked before about the need for a viable and very strong national organization and I won’t harp on it again.  I am 73 and whatever happens to the pastime won’t affect me that much.

How about you?





Filed under Metal Detecting

16 responses to “Just leave it in the dirt!

  1. Robbie

    There have been many “official digs” where the reports and finds are NOT available to the general public. How is that benefitting future generations if only archaeologists know the results of the excavations? And I’m sure those archaeologists that “found” all the King Tut treasures donated everything they had “found” to museums….right?

  2. gary killmer

    Hi Dick
    My quick suggestion would be to do something like I did which was set up a nice display of my detecting finds at a local library like I did in Kingston New York.

    So far I’ve heard lots of great things people are saying when they visit the library and see the display. I understand they may want me to run a program or a presentation about the detecting.

    In the display, I included information about how to properly dig a plug, the treasure hunter code of ethics, and piles of trash that I’ve removed from public and private places. I also included lots of printed pictures and information about the more interesting finds I’ve made.

    Perhaps displays like this will help sway people to look at detectorists in a more positive way and not the way archaeologist want us to look.

    Here is a link to a thread about the display and pictures if the display itself.

    • Gary thanks….great display! No question things like that appeal to the general public however I have my doubts that they would sway the archaeological fraternity. They just want us gone…

      • gary killmer

        I agree it wouldn’t change the minds of archaeologist. But it may sway local politicians to think twice about a law regarding metal detecting the next time that they hear about the big bad metal detectorists in the town park..

        If course it’s a double edged sword, who knows what way they can go…

  3. Treasure hunting is a legal and wholesome pursuit. Provided it is accompanied by all the prerequisite permissions, then whatever happens to the finds just so long as (in my view) they are logged and/or recorded. Whether they are sold to a collector, or kept in the treasure hunter’s own collection is again entirely legal.

    The fact that the single brain-cell loudmouths in the archaeological sphere object to the hobby and hobbyists, is on a par with those whingers who’d ban fishing. We have our own methodology, terminology, and standards. In the UK the PAS is a vital resource, well respected, and the basis to academic study, DESPITE what the politically-motivated loonies and their dim-wit bag carries would have the world believe.

    What Gary is suggesting is first class, A1, 24-carat public relations. It will bring in new members and open doors.

  4. John G

    Here is what I get when speaking to an archaeologists, which I have come across a few: “Oh, you are one of those” So I say, one of what? One of those stealing artifacts from in the ground were they belong. Amazing how narrow minded archaeologists really are. I lived in Italy for a few years and detected some places, (Not many legal places exist, seems most places are considered “Historical”) the archaeologists love us there. When we find something old it gives them the excuse to close off the land to excavate for ruins and such. When you ask a home/land owner in Italy if they mind if you detect their land, this is what they say: NO! and if you try detecting at night and find something you keep your month shut! I need this land to grow my fruits and vegetables, I don’t want the archaeologists/government closing off my land for the next 10-20 years to look for something I already know is there. Anyway, my opinion is that we actually can make their “archaeologists” lives easier and find more sites worth looking into!

    • I agree John but unfortunately they don’t see it that way. The thought that we minions can find anything historic or valuable irritates the hell out of them.

  5. Big Tony

    “Leave it in the Dirt” is an amazing article that was found in the Art and Culture section….give me a break.
    Even when we dig stuff up and display it in museums – (local or national or wherever) we are only showing a small part of our great past. It’s true meaning is never known because we were not there in that period of time.
    Artifacts are just that – a look into a period of time – it’s not the entire picture of what took place.
    So to just leave these items to decay in time – then our only choice to rediscover our past —- is to dream about it.

    • Yo BT from B:

      Leave it in the Dirt” is camouflage netting over an insidious intent. Blame treasure and relic hunters for ‘robbing’ history etc, etc,,etc, the usual BS. To the casual observer, its sounds plausible, but pop it under the microscope and the bacteria are clearly there!

      Call me an old cynic, but it’s arkie-speak for …”It secures our job prospects for the future, or until we can screw more funds out of the public.”


      John H

      • Robbie

        The Texas Historical Commission was established in 1953, and their mission is, and I quote from their website, “To protect and preserve the state’s historic and prehistoric resources for the use, education, economic benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations”. If the reports and findings from every archaeological excavation are only available to the archaeological community how is the public enjoying, learning, or benefitting from the information and artifacts that are being withheld from them?

  6. Ah, but you already know how I feel about that Tony….

  7. Excellent post this with excellent replies.
    People visit museums because they are interested in the past, and being able to see objects in front of them from years ago is a far better experience than reading about the object in a book. So to “Leave it in the dirt” is depriving people of this experience and I’m sure its not what the people want. To leave stuff in the dirt is the same as hiding our heritage like it didn’t exist which is the same as making it look like we didn’t exist. We need this knowledge from the past for all sorts of reasons, the main ones being it helps us to understand where we come from, why we are here and where we are going. It shows us where we are on the evolutionary scale of things.
    “Leave it in the dirt” is so absurd, its like saying “Leave us in the dirt”.

    • Janner it is indeed absurd but it’s their mantra and has been for many years. Me thinks they don’t like the fact that we are not only capable of adding to the knowledge base but that we do it far more frequently than they do.

    • Robbie

      Archaeoloists only can guess if an item is in the ground or not, especially stone and clay artifacts. Many non-metal items are subject to corrosion and will rust away over time unless it is located and retreived from the ground. I’m wondering if anyone answer this question. Has anyone outside of the archaeology field ever read or benefitted from any report or findings from any official dig?? If so could you please let us know what the benefit was, and how it helped the public.

  8. Big Tony

    Hey John H. you old cynic….oh well you asked me to call you that —–

    Yes there are undertones in that article…..I surmise they are only worried about their jobs and not the artifacts.

    Recreational Metal Detecting – (which the majority of us do) doesn’t effect any history. When I find coins from the past I enjoy displaying them and talking to others about them. I am still amazed that these folks only single out people with little shovels the size of a garden trowel….give me a break!

    Three weeks ago a group of city folks declared war on their park and said people don’t use it any more so we decided to dig it up and put in artificial turf…..they dug down about six feet – brought in stones – clay and then the fake grass. This park was over 125 years old and still going strong. How come these “leave it in the dirt folks” didn’t show up and stop this before the local history was sent to a land fill in another state? It’s gone now gone forever. In my home state of NJ – construction never stops and history gets destroyed daily. Why these folks do not understand that is beyond me.

    So stop it and leave the recreational metal detectorist alone. Grow a pair and fight the big guys not us doing our part to preserve old artifacts and share them with those who really care.

  9. Yo BT from B
    Oh they do understand about construction alright…new building works keep them employed, and the delays caused by archaeological excavations are passed on to the final buyer of the property. Arkies get nothing from treasure or relic hunters.

    If a survey were to be carried out to discover the millions of $$$’s customers are paying over the odds for newly-built properties where arkies have caused delays, public opinion is likely to turn hostile.

    I know of one incident where a building company poured concrete over a roman mosaic floor uncovered during construction work to prevent arkies coming on site and delaying the schedule.

    Oh yes, we pay for archaeology alright!

    John H

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