Reading Between the Lines…

Okay, with regards to the roundtable discussion sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation….

I watched the entire broadcast again, and listened to all the “you stroke mine, and I will stroke yours” comments, but when it was over I realized that we are we are still two drastically different camps, pretending to care about each other, but it’s not working, and hasn’t for many, many years. The one plus is that we have the internet, the technology to continue talking, and hopefully the next “roundtable” will be more balanced and not a four arkie to one tekkie affair.


A few observations and take aways….

At the 6:26 mark Matt Reeves, the director of Archaeology at Montpelier, states “one thing archaeologists feared is that, as an archaeologist, if you worked with a metal detectorist you would essentially be “validating” what metal detectorists do and there would be more metal detecting”.  Hmm, well at least he was honest.  They have never and will never validate what we do.

Later in the discussion, at around the 49:20 mark, they tackled a question about archaeology’s opposition to collecting, and was there some way to bridge the gap. Their response was pretty much a resounding NO!  Apparently no one, except the archaeological community that is, can have a collection of anything historic, be it a relic or coin.  Hmm, well, forgive my rudeness, but they can all kiss my ass!  I will collect what I want, and yes, even sell what I want if I choose to, and do not need their approval to do it.


Confidence is not ‘they will like me’…. Confidence is ‘I’ll be fine if they don’t’ 


If you can’t sit still long enough to view the whole video at least watch the last part, starting at around the 45:15 mark. That will give you some idea of just where we stand with these folks.  The fear that metal detecting would become a “legitimate hobby” and their unfavorable view of the PAS pretty much sums it up.

Perhaps down the road things will change, but it will not be in my lifetime. This online roundtable was nothing more than a “feel good” attempt at saying, “hey, we’re at least reaching out to you”, when it reality it was nothing more than an hour-long “we know better than you” promotional show.  I will however leave you all to come to your own conclusions.

I know I will hear from those of you who say I am being unfair and being too negative. That’s fine. You are entitled to your opinions.  I just have too many years under my belt trying to work with the archaeological community, and you can only piss in the wind so many times…

Finally, if they really wanted to reach out to us why do they charge for the  Montpelier program?  Seems THEY get paid, and get to use our expertise to further their goals. The participants?  Well he or she pays $750 for four or five days, and that does not include meals or travel.  That’s just not right.

Here’s hoping you can tear yourself away from that detecting forum to watch….




Filed under Metal Detecting

8 responses to “Reading Between the Lines…

  1. I agree with you Dick. We don’t need them to “validate” us. Some detectorists are better researchers and historians than these so called “Archaeologists” and they basically say that if they don’t work with us then we’re not legitimate. If they haven’t noticed, we are growing in numbers, and as you have said, we really do need a national voice. I don’t have all of the answers, or even a few of the answers but I do know one thing for a fact, they won’t keep me from enjoying my hobby and I’ll never need them to validate me or the hobby that I choose to enjoy. Hope all is well on your end!

    • Thanks Rob. Honestly I have pretty much given up on the national organization thing. Not sure why but no one seems to really care. Guess it will take some drastic event for them to wake up. As for me, I am hanging in there…thanks for asking.

  2. jimnick

    Don’t despair. In a small part of my small country (Belgium), things changed in only (although quite a long time in metal detecting) 20 years or so. In the nineties, archaeologists were strictly agains relic hunting. There was the same basic rule than in France, quoting something like “everything that lies in the ground belongs to the State”.

    Yes, even on private property.

    Fortunately, thanks to good examples around us (UK and the Netherlands), where the collaboration between detectorists and archaeology was very good, the rules changed in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium (we are a “ferderal state, each region votes its own rules). These new rules are blissfully simple.

    -Everyone may ask a “metal detectorist” license.

    -Archaeologists are “metal detectorists” by essence.

    -To receive a license, you must be at least 18 years old, be free of criminal records, and have basic arcaeological techniques knowedge. Those who don’t have the archaeological knowledge can attempt short sessions to get the basics.

    -Archaeologists will be able to involve licensed metal detectorists when working sites of interest.

    It’s a bit more detailed than what I wrote, but my english is somehow limited to school knowledge and Beatles songs.

    Well it started on january 1, 2015, and the licenses are delivered without problems.

    Sharing knowledge has always been the motor of evolution.

    Good luck & HH

    • Jimnick, thank you for commenting and offering encouragement. Thanks as well for the details on how things work in Belgium. I have not kept up with all the European regulations as I once did. Interestingly here in Texas they still claim that everything in the ground, and waters belong to the state.

      Hope you will continue to share your thoughts and ideas in the future. We need to hear from others across the globe, and as you said, sharing knowledge is absolutely necessary. As for your English, it is very, very good, and who doesn’t like the Beatles?

      Have a great day and strike it rich…

  3. After watching the roundtable, the undertone for me was that metal detectorists represent a slippy slope. That by validating metal detecting they are in essence validating collecting. And, that collecting is the antithesis of archeology. My imagination fills with images of old time gold prospectors, “You better stay away from my claim.”

    To this extent, I think metal detecting is misjudged. As Scott so elegantly relayed that most metal detectorists want nothing more than to share their proud discoveries. We see so many of these finds on a daily basis in the social space. I am not sure if it exists, but the percentage of new artifacts found by the metal detectorist in America as compared to that of the archeologist has to be extremely lopsided in favor of the former.

    The trick is in not in using ethics to invalidate but to centralize, geo-tag and credit all the historical discoveries into a centralized trust. I really like Scott’s way of putting it. One of the most fun things to do in metal detecting is sharing and gamifying our finds. It seems that we are just a minor step away from centralizing in a more useful way.

    • John, I am all for sharing, but I do not want to have to give my finds to anyone and be content looking at photos of them. Also, once we take away the physical part of collecting, why buy a metal detector?

  4. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against collecting at all. I just think that we are already sharing finds online in the social realm. If we could just round that into a common collective I think it would benefit everybody and shed a very favorable light on the hobby.

    • Perhaps but I don’t think archaeologists will be happy with photos and related data. Doesn’t matter that they sometimes have an overabundance of a particular item, they want more.

      Please, when you have time, read Peter Tompa’s recent post, as well as links he included.

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