Painting Us With a Broad Brush…

My last post “Just leave it in the Dirt” garnered a lot of views but very few responses but I can’t say that it surprises me. We read articles like the one in the Boise Weekly,  get angry for a minute or two, then forget about it.  I mean after all no one was banned or arrested right?

I kept reading this article and while at times it promoted our pastime it also made us out to be less than honest. Take the following for instance….

“Items that are out there on public lands, they’re part of our history,” said F. Kirk Halford, deputy preservation officer and state archaeologist for Idaho’s BLM office. “People should think of it like an outdoor museum. You see it, touch it, take pictures, take notes, then leave it behind. When you go into a museum, you don’t take stuff away.”

Sorry but I find that ridiculous.  We can touch it (can we pick it up?), take photos, notes and then just leave it there. Is that it?  If so just when will Mr. Halford or his fellow archaeologists come along and do the same?  When will ‘they’ recover that historically, breathtaking find and announce it to world?  I mean after all that old coin or belt buckle will surely wind up in a museum.  Or will it?

I also love the term “public lands”.  I understand that Mr. Halford is implying that whatever is buried on public land belongs to everyone, but if it’s not found just how does the public benefit?  Also are we not the ‘public’?


Then there’s this…

“The artifacts should be owned by the public and not privately,” Altschul said. “It’s important that those items sit in the dirt. Once it gets out of the dirt, if it’s not recovered adequately, it’s just a thing on the shelf. It has no importance to history. You’ve lost the entire story of what that piece meant, and you lose all ability to reconstruct the past, the settlement of the West and how people lived”.

Apparently we cannot search for, find, recover and own anything.  Frankly I will take a thing on the shelf to nothing at all, and the implication that we never try to document finds or share them is just more self serving, ‘we can do it better’ BS.  I am also willing to bet that there are relic hunters out there who can run rings around archaeologists when it comes to identifying items and documenting their provenance. Remember too that archaeology almost always relies on guesswork!

And…when Mr. Halford says “It’s teaching people to go out and steal from the public.” I get really pissed. The implication we are stealing is not only uncalled for but an insult to all of us.  Just when might we expect the archaeological community to get off their ass and do just a little more of what we do?  Apparently it takes money. Government money. Our money.  Without it all they can do is piss and moan about the guy with a metal detector who is out on the weekends trying to have fun. You know, that guy who sometimes finds neat things. Things that every so often make headlines and archaeologists jealous!




Filed under Metal Detecting

23 responses to “Painting Us With a Broad Brush…

  1. jamie

    You make good points Dick, but there is so much wrong in the world, who needs the added stress of worry about this long standing battle.

    We all have battles to fight, and for me detecting is a hobby that I will defend, but for now I have other more pressing matters.

    Sorry to say, but just telling it like it is.

  2. Robbie

    Most all metal detector users leave the grounds just as it was before they retreive an item…you can’t tell where they had dug. Can an archaeologist say them same?? I think NOT.

  3. If you have emailed me and not received a reply my email has been down now for 24 hours. Hoping they fix it soon.

  4. Big Tony from Bayonne

    Sorry to hear about your email headaches! I hate when that happens.
    Another point to “Leave it in the ground” – are they saying that we should leave the discarded dangerous junk items too? Lead – of all types – pesky scraps of metal of – oh well to numerous to list here…..Should we leave behind the rusty nails? We need to start sending letters to these folks to keep them busy. That is a good first step because you can’t sue someone that just states their opinion – no matter how lame it is…..

  5. I am also willing to bet that there are relic hunters out there who can run rings around archaeologists when it comes to identifying items and documenting their provenance. <<< Definitely!!!

  6. Generally speaking, the man-in-the-street gets f**k all from campaigning politicians – it’s always ‘ jam tomorrow, vote for me’.

    How about detectorists getting some fire in their guts and saying to these assholes, ‘ What are you going to do for my hobby?’ No action…no vote…you dig?’ I can tell you now where votes count, they take the easy option….it’s better than picking cotton! So, make the bastards pick cotton! It’s your vote, use it to help YOU!

    For every lost vote, a politician needs TWO to break even. Detectorists have REAL POWER… should they have the guts and the nerve to use it.

    It’s the only chance for your hobby you have. If the hobby goes tits up don’t back on here whingeing and whining; you got what you voted for!


    John H

    • Unfortunately Bubba we are not organized enough to make that happen. Too many “if it don’t bother me who cares” and no one to direct traffic.

  7. Then, the end is nigh!

  8. Friday Am….still without email.

  9. Big Tony from Bayonne

    Sorry to hear about your email. Is it your provider? Or a PC issue?

  10. Big Tony from Bayonne

    Oh that’s a bitch! Hopefully they credit you. At least your server is emailing folks with updates from your blog. Although I suspect that many folks are out and about these days. There shouldn’t be much activity via email – hopefully folks are out detecting while we still can….I plan on getting out tomorrow morning after this humidity passes here in NJ

    • Todd Hiltz

      These Arch’s would never find the relics Dave and I dig up every weekend. They would never dig in the areas we do unless there was a known historical event in such area. We research and read a number of books on colonial life in early America and can identify 90% + of the relics we uncover. If and I stress if… Any of these relics made it to a display in a museum, how many people would get to see them? More eye balls can enjoy them online than would in a museum. Besides all of these relics I dig would surely hibernate in the back room of a museum and probably never see the light of day again.

      • Todd you are so right. You and Dave are examples of what I meant when I said “I am also willing to bet that there are relic hunters out there who can run rings around archaeologists when it comes to identifying items and documenting their provenance”…

        Unfortunately they just like to sit on their ass, complain and find joy in leaving things in the dirt. Just more of the same ole rhetoric we’ve been hearing for years.

  11. Big Tony from Bayonne

    Hello Todd, you are right and I understand totally. Today many more people use the social network sites to view and comment on our items. And the smaller items that we find seem so much more important when posted then in a museum.

  12. I’ve got a huge container of lead in my basement, perhaps I can take it to Idaho and sell it for fertilizer?

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