Paint Me Suspicious!


I saw the following link yesterday and after reading it through a few times and I wanted to share my thoughts….


First off this to me is just another example of the archaeological community offering a crumb to the detectorist. 

The cost for this class is $165 for the two days and that apparently does not include lodging.  So add in that and of course your travel expenses.  Why doesn’t Modern Heritage or Minelab  pick up the tab?

Next you will be required to sign the following ‘ethics pledge’.

“I will neither purchase nor sell artifacts. I will not detect on any property without written permission of the land owner. I will record all discovered sites within 30 days with the state site files. I will keep records on the location of all materials I recover. I will not excavate any targets below the topsoil/plowzone. I will not disturb any human remains. I will report sites threatened by development or other actions to the state archaeologist or state historic preservation office. I will share data and knowledge with professional archaeologists. I will partner, when feasible, with professional archaeologists to assist in the preservation and study of archaeological resources. I will strive to be a responsible avocational detectorist. I understand that violation of this pledge may result in my name and contact information being removed from the APP database of responsible avocational detectorists.”

Maybe I missed something but where is the pledge for the archaeologist?  I would personally never sign this pledge despite the “professional recognition” being promised.  I can read between the lines and I am fine without that certificate or accreditation.

Next I found the following offensive….

“This class is intended for avocational metal detectorists who are serious about working with professional archaeologists”

Was it really necessary to insert the word “avocational” (as in amateur) and come on, when have detectorists NOT been serious about working with archaeologists? We’ve been trying for years and years to no avail.  All that has happened is we’ve helped them do their work and in the process we lost more and more areas that were once available to us.  So let me ask….when will the archaeological community be serious about working with us?  When will they speak up and tell a city or town council that the park they have closed is not really of any historical significance? The answer of course is never. They want it all.

One of the topics in this course will be “A discussion of why partnership is advantageous to both parties, and ultimately benefits our historic resources and heritage”.  Willing to bet that the advantage will be theirs and not ours. Just a hunch….

Then we have “The delineation and the ethical expectations for both professional archaeologists and avocational detectorists.”  The key word here is ‘delineation’ as in “let’s be clear it’s our way or the highway. You will be told to do what we tell you and not one thing more.”

I know what I’ve said here will result in a lot of negative responses but it’s based on my 40 years of detecting and experiences with archaeologists.  I no longer pee my pants or drool over the possibility of working with them.  When “they” decide to step up to the plate and help “us” then I may change my mind. Until then I am not a second class citizen or detectorist and I am tired of pissing in the wind.



Filed under Metal Detecting

45 responses to “Paint Me Suspicious!

  1. Yep, that just about usurps the US Code of Ethics. I doubt seriously whether any detectorists were involved in formulating this laughable code of ethics. $165 for the course? Better spent on treasure maps perhaps. JMO.

  2. Lisa MacIntyre know I respect you immensely. Hell, I even like you! So I am going to respond first, as a friend, second as an archaeologist.
    “offering a crumb to the detectorist.” Could this not be seen as reaching out?
    “where is the pledge for the archaeologist?” We do have a pledge. It is basically the same as above. We take classes on proper excavation techniques, preservation, ethics, procedures, theories, history, documentation, and laws. Does everyone abide? I have no idea. Probably not. I know I do. But then neither do all detectorists.
    “Avocational” simply means non-professional, hobby, non-degree. All of which detectoring is, correct? I don’t see that word as demeaning. It does not mean you are not serious about said hobby.
    “Willing to bet that the advantage will be theirs and not ours.” I’m not sure I understand how the advantage will only be to archaeologists. Do you mean monetary? Because I can tell you from experience, you will not get rich in this profession. Getting your name in print? The bonus for an archaeologist in this respect is funding. To get funding for a dig is a long arduous process that is often met with a great big NO. Making a name for yourself helps. Another thing that helps is finding something that is of great interest to the public. Our little Ft. Caroline (The lost fort of NE Florida) is of so little interest we constantly fight for funding. Historical findings are an advantage to everyone.
    “delineation…let’s be clear it’s our way or the highway.” I think if I were taking a class in the methods of archaeology excavations I would expect to be taught in their methodology. I would expect that detectorists should also be open to the fact that archaeologists methods are from decades of research in what works and what doesn’t. I don’t think it means they are not open to hearing detectorists methods as well. At least I hope that is not the case, as detectorists also have decade of methods as well.
    I think we need to stop looking at this like “when THEY step up” or when “they” do this or that. We have to move past this “they did this so Im not playing anymore”…from BOTH sides.
    BTW…I also get really hurt from all the name calling and career bashing. It works both ways. I am a good archaeologist and worked very, very hard to become one. I am ethical, open minded, and compassionate about my work. And I am very proud of my accomplishments. I also believe there are more good detectorist than bad. Just like I believe there are more good archaeologists than bad.

    • Lisa I knew you would be on my case….

      First I understand what avocational means but why not simply “detectorist”?

      I tried for years to get the archaeological community to work with us and it was simply a waste of time. I think if they really want to help and work with us come up with a program like the PAS. I am willing to bet it could get done real fast IF they really wanted to do it and IF they really wanted to close the gap.

      The pledge, in my opinion, is not needed. If they don’t trust us then why bother to attend this class?. Isn’t the fact that someone is willing to pay $165 plus expenses enough to indicate their interest and dedication? Whatever happened to a handshake? Also do they expect people taking this class to travel afterward and not get paid for their time and expenses?

      Also I can assure you that the majority of tekkies are not keen on sharing the location of their finds. Not because they found them illegally but because it would probably result in it being placed off limits.

      As for advantage I don’t see much upside for the tekkie. They pay the money to attend, sign a pledge and perhaps travel to a distance to work on a project later on.

      Lastly I know that you and most archaeologists worked hard for your degree and are above board in all your dealings. I just resent seeing so many areas being closed to detectorists for no legitimate reason and the archaeological community could help here but they refuse to do so. Why?

      Now having said all this do I have send back that bottle of wine? It’s half gone…..

  3. Gary Kemper

    Thank you for this site. I will be paying attention.

  4. Gary Kemper

    “Willing to bet that the advantage will be theirs and not ours.” I’m not sure I understand how the advantage will only be to archaeologists. Do you mean monetary? Because I can tell you from experience, you will not get rich in this profession. Getting your name in print? ”
    I find it interesting how you point out that you think it might be “monetary’ and “name in print” that you think the detectorists object to. You can make all the money you want and get your name in print if you wish. Just don’t do it by blocking people from what you feel is yours.

  5. Lisa

    Gary. I was merely asking. There was no evil connotation intended. And I do not feel that anything is mine. I do not own anything that I dig. It belongs to our history. It belongs to all Americans.

  6. Lisa

    Dick. I want my half empty bottle. At least I sent you a full one. Geeze.

  7. Lisa

    Point taken on the avocational. I still honestly don’t think anything was meant by the use. I do agree that there are too many that push against detectorists. If they wanted it done it could be done. Unfortunately I hit a brick wall a lot when I push this subject. Still not giving up though. Point taken on the code thing as well. I’m thinking it all has to do with our friends the lawyers. Understand on the sharing. But that is where we will have to agree to disagree. If its private land there are no laws saying they have to give it up. Don’t let paranoia get you on this one. I agree with you on the cost. Seems to me it should be offered free. I mean the archaeologist are getting free labor. As for closing things down. I honestly plead ignorant here. I’m not aware of this happening so I should not comment. Enlighten me on this.

  8. Lisa the PAS type of setup would seemingly give you what you want and would please the tekkie too but it won’t get done anytime soon. Why? Because it won’t set well with the archaeological community. They would have to accept us on a higher level and they will never do that.

    As for areas being closed I am referring to parks, beaches, etc., that we are losing as the result of state or city ordinances most of which are bogus. We always seem to hear is “it’s an old park” or “we abide by the state’s ARPA regulations”. It’s a situation where an archaeologist could help us out but they have never done so and in fact love it when we keep losing places to enjoy our pastime.

    Sorry about the wine…

  9. Hi Lisa:

    A PAS isn’t just about appeasing Tekkies. We are here and here to stay, despite what you (that’s your peers) might think. The clock can’t be turned back and there are thousands of Tekkies out there who do things, maybe not how you’d like them, but as how they see fit, and do what they do to an ethical code they designed for the pastime they want in a modern world.

    The choice is: embrace them, respect what they do, and the manner they do it, or alienate the public’s interest in history. Now, you and I know, that in this argument the tail (all your lot) is wagging the dog (us lot). The times they are a -changin’.

    Better we meet in the middle and embrace a PAS type of thing and I suggest you should be in the vanguard of the new movement.

    Best regards

  10. Gary Kemper

    It belongs to our history. -Lisa

    If I found a coin or a buckle last week is that not history? If I pass that down to my children or grandchildren is that not history? I mean real,natural history. If an archeologist would find that same coin or buckle and say that is history and would plan on presenting such item as history up to the point when it was found,are they not altering history?

    • Lisa MacIntyre

      Gary…I’m not sure I understand what you are saying.

      • Gary Kemper

        If a detectorists finds an item and does whatever they wish with that item history lives on.If a detectorist or an archeologist or a combination of both find an item and do whatever they wish with it the history lives on as well. If anyone tries to claim that the history of an item up until the point it was recently found is more important than the future history there is no way to prove that.
        By finding an item and displaying it and touting it’s past history can be done by anyone. That does not mean that it is more important to do so than whatever else anyone would do with it.
        Therefore claims that an item in the hands of someone that is planning on displaying it are more justified is not true.
        If anyone wishes to find an item and display it there is nothing wrong with that as long as nobody is forcing them to do so.
        If someone is forcing someone to display an item that they found that is wrong.

      • Lisa MacIntyre

        Gary….the displaying of an item is just one piece of the history of that piece. Anyone can find an artifact and display it. But what can you really tell me about that artifact? Can you tell me who it belonged to? Can you tell me what the people did for survival? How they lived? What their houses were made of? Their ideologies? There is this huge misconception that archaeology is only about digging up artifacts for display. That is but a small piece of what we do. I think that is the whole idea behind classes like this. To show people, who have this misconception, what we really do.

      • Gary Kemper

        ” But what can you really tell me about that artifact? Can you tell me who it belonged to? Can you tell me what the people did for survival? How they lived? What their houses were made of? Their ideologies?” _ Lisa

        No Lisa 50 years from now I would not be able to tell you that because you would have altered that natural history by interfering with that artifact and controlling it’s natural progression. A detectorist that does what they wish with an artifact keeps that natural history going.

  11. If you wish to respond to a particular comment try to do so underneath where it says “reply”…..that way some of the comments will make more sense. Thanks…

  12. I’m appreciative of the fact the class is happening and would be there had I not already committed to attending my 30 year class reunion that weekend. $165 for the 2-day class, especially with the cred of the presenters, is a bargain and there is likely zero profit coming out of it. Putting on events is very expensive.

    I have worked with archaeologists pretty regularly and have found the experience rewarding and enjoyable and look forward to doing it again. I have never been treated as a second class citizen, ever. I am, however aware that I normally deal with more liberal archaeologists who have open minds about working with us.

    Hell, I’ll be presenting on a panel to Archaeologists at the SHA conference in Seattle this year… and consider it an honor to represent (some) of the detecting community. Not all of the detecting community will like what I have to say, or my openness to these partnerships, but that’s just too bad.

    I don’t consider the amateur label at all offensive. Amateur just means you’re not getting paid to do the work as your profession. It’s a hobby. I have a different profession, and if an Archaeologist tried to do it, I’d call them an amateur.. Detecting is not my profession… I’m avocational for the hobby and for the archaeological approach to leveraging my skills. My payment is my love of detecting, and adding to the data set from which history is told.

    I appreciate Archaeologists rigor and methodology because I mostly understand the archaeological process (I am still learning.) It seems many detectorists do not… and they do not want to learn.

    • Scott I guess your experience with archaeologists is not at all like mine, and if working with them means I have to sign that pledge you are correct, I am not interested in learning. Good luck….

      • Lisa

        So of I don’t make you sign a pledge will you let me teach you a few things?

      • Just a couple of thoughts:
        1. I’m wondering what would happen should one of these ‘responsible avocational detectorists’ ever get paired with Loyola’s, Daniel Amick.

        2. Perhaps all would-be ‘avocational’ detectorists attending this course should hand over all their collections of artifacts as they cannot be collectors and arkies at the same time. I can see a market niche here as well, for metal measuring sticks to prevent digging lower than the topsoil – another requirement ‘avocationalists’ will have to sign up to!

        Keep smilin’

  13. Hmm, just what do you mean Miss Lisa?

  14. Okay, let me try once again to state my case and my concerns with the proposed program…..

    1. No problem with the basic concept or premise. Share with us your techniques but do it without charging us please. If Minelab can donate $40,000 to the Task Force and sponsor “Minelabbing Day” all over the world, certainly they can find a little extra to pay for this.

    2. I and I think most detectorists would never sign the pledge presented and in fact I see no reason to sign any pledge.

    3. Accept us as equals, despite the fact that you have a diploma and a degree. We appreciate your credentials but we are tired of being the lowest common denominator when it comes to enjoying our pastime.

    4. Next lets have a “well balanced” roundtable discussion about the problems we face today and how best to solve them.

    5. Make an effort to help us when we are facing unreasonable State, county and city restrictions and bans. As it stands now you keep pushing for more and seek to control every plot of ground in the country. It’s unfair and only widens the gap between us.

    6. Finally why not cut to the chase and have a discussion about how we can draw up a Portable Antiquity type of plan for the US?

  15. I agree on all points except two. The equality. I don’t think we are equal. I think archaeologists can teach detectorists things we have learned in academia while detectorists can teach us things they have learned in the field, for example. I am in no way saying I am better, just that there has to be things i know that you don’t, and vice verse. When it comes to knowledge, on any subject, I don’t think there are very many equals. We can always learn from another, no matter what we think we know.

    The second is plots of land. But that part comes from the environmentalist in me. I wish we could stop destroying beautiful pieces of land everywhere and leave them untouched by anyone. But, knowing that wont happen, I can see your point. I don’t think we should open up public lands but I understand the stopping of banning detectorists from everywhere.

  16. Well at least we have a few areas we agree on….not bad. Guess we will have to see what happens to this proposed program and what follows.

    Until then you are not getting that half bottle of wine back.

  17. Such archaeologists always complain that coins and artifacts in the trade have no recorded find spots. So, they are demanding that detectorists never sell anything. They have all of that tied up in a neat little little package, don’t they? This one goes into my Catch 22 collection!

    • Lisa MacIntyre

      I think if you are making a case for selling artifacts then you are asking for a double standard here. Take me serious I am only here for history just like you, however, if I want to sell something and make a profit then that is my right? I’m not saying if you should or should not be allowed to sell artifacts. That is a whole other discussion. But you cant accuse archaeologists of having this all tied up when selling artifacts is something we do not do (or shouldn’t do) and something we do not support. And FYI. Coins are different. Coins on public land less than 100 years old are not illegal. And anything (With the exception of Native Indian and human remains) on private property is legal.

      • Lisa, I will have to disagree with you. What I’ve found over the years I found legally and as far as I am concerned it’s mine to do with how I see fit. Having said that I’ve only sold maybe two or three items over almost 40 years, none of them of historical interest or value.

        As for coins: Using your example above was I wrong to sell a 1796 Large Cent last year? It was found on private property that was about to be razed and I had permission.

        I feel certain that the overwhelming majority of detectorists do NOT sell their finds and there’s nothing they enjoy doing more than sharing history when they find it.

        Now if I dug down two feet and found an old kazoo would that mean the early inhabitants had a band?

      • Gary Kemper

        I doubt that we will see any signs in the future (where the forced control of an item is presented) such as – ” This item is here today because it’s natural progression through history was stopped the day we forced someone to give it to us for presentation.”

        Not only will some want to control the history of an item they will also want to control the presentation of the real reason that item is where it is.

      • There is no double standard here at all. Professional archaeologists are bound by certain codes of ethics. Individuals are bound by their own morals. Expecting or demanding that individuals obey a set of ethics imposed on a professional organization that the individual does not subscribe to is oppression.

        This, however, goes even further than that: If an archaeologist complains that collectors are in some way “bad” for selling something without a stated find spot, and then actively tries to perpetuate that by saying that finders should not sell at all, then hypocrisy is added to the oppression.

        A common misconception among archaeologists is that antiquity and coin dealers exist to make a profit. Perhaps there might be someone who fits that category, but after more than fifty years of collecting, I have never met such a person. The profit just enables them to continue and is no different in that aspect from an archaeologist who solicits funding.

        A friend of mine quit being an oilfield geologist to deal in coins and antiquities. After thirty years, he has yet to get the income (unadjusted for inflation) that he got from his previous job. He could return to the oil business any time, but he won’t because it is his passion. This is typical.

        There are two (broad) types of collectors: generalists and specialists. A detectorist is also a collector. Sometimes, certain types of things might attract his attention, while other types of things do not. A specialist collector sells the latter in order to be able to afford to get more of the former. After many decades of doing this, such a person can become the most knowledgeable person in the world about such things. This never happens with academics and only rarely happens with museum cataloguers or curators. Such people then write about their collections, and when they die often leave such collections to museums. This is the basis for most museum collections. I collect early Celtic art. In order to buy what is actually the most important piece of British Celtic art found in many decades:

        I had to sell another important piece of Celtic art. I don’t remember if I made a profit or a loss on the latter — it was irrelevant in any case.

        Being a generalist or a specialist is a personal choice, one is not better than the other. But archaeologists have no right to impose their views, through coercion or ridicule on other people’s moral choices and passions. I also think that they should set aside such prejudices and actually study what they are criticizing. A little self-examination would not hurt, either.

  18. Jeez….the wind of fresh air is at last blowing through the debate. Well done, well spoken, John Hooker.

    Oppression and browbeating are what most arkies are about, and some detectorists are simplistic enough to fall for it all – you’ve only to look at certain archaeo-blogs to see those who favour totalitarians regimes – or who lack the debating skills to fight their corner.

    I, you, and every other reader of this blog has the absolute right to sell, deal in, and find for themselves, ancient artifacts old and new. The law allows it.

    But, to increase the general common knowledge, these same people if they so wish, may share that finds data. Not to do so, is no less ethical. Arkies try to set the ethical standards others – in their view – should follow; but, who are arkies after all, to be the arbitrators of good taste or agenda setters. You, we, and I, have as much right as to tell arkies with their anti-views to get stuffed as they have to remonstrate with us. They are not right – in my view. Some of those opposed to our hobby have mental issues which become patently obvious when you reads their blogs…we have nothing to fear from them.

    I am a treasure hunter and damn well proud of the fact. I have never betrayed my country nor sold out for the Soviet rouble. I search for and buy artifacts when I want to, and support the rights of those who sell artifacts either as hobbyists or professionally, and I don’t give a rat’s arse for those who object – as some of them have already discovered.

    That said, I support the reporting of finds uncovered in the UK, to the PAS.

  19. Thanks guys, One of the mantras that a certain archaeologist uses against collectors and dealers is “no questions asked” and we are told we should be passing on the name of the previous owner of a coin or artifact. Here, and in many places, to do so would be breaking the law. Privacy laws usually forbid that the names of members of the public who sell something be then passed on by the person or dealer who buys it.

    It makes sense: to violate the law could embarrass someone who had to sell the family heirlooms, or it could be an invitation for thieves to come and look for more of the same.

    I don’t think that “an archaeologist told me to do it” would stand up in court as a valid defense if you are charged with violating privacy laws.

    I’m not sure whether inciting people to break the law would also be a crime, but you would think at least that it should be.

    • Gary Kemper

      I think what would be interesting would be a real progression of history shown by an archeologist that claims to be interested in the history of an item. A presentation of how a person found an item and sold it and made a house payment or fed their family or passed it down to a family member.

      When they talk about history they are not interested in some types of real history but only in the types of real history they promote. They want to control history which is their right to do if they find an item. They should not have the right to force people to prolong the history of an item in their way.

  20. Good point John. Thanks.

  21. Only when metal detecting is an accredited course, and we can earn a “Masters of Metal Detecting” degree from a university, will we ever begin to be taken halfway serious by the archaeological community.
    Until then, Happy Hunting!

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