Lisa Hume MacIntyre, Archaeologist & Good Friend…

Many of my long time readers may remember Lisa Hume MacIntyre but for those of you who don’t let me give you a little background. Lisa is an archaeologist and I got to know her back in 2013 when we did two “Detectorist vs. Archaeologist” debates on Relic Roundup, the American Digger podcast.

Afterward we stayed in touch and are now good friends. We chat online and frequently discuss happenings in our related fields.  Do we disagree? Sure, but we do it in a civil way and move on to more important things like dogs, books, food, wine and family.

Lisa has penned a couple of guest posts for Stout Standards in the past and she kindly offered the following, knowing I’m nursing a bad foot and drinking way too much wine. Thank you Lisa…

Lisa Hume MacIntrye – 2021

For those who know me hello again! For those who don’t let me introduce myself. My name is Lisa and I’m an archaeologist. Why do I always feel like I’m at an AA meeting when I say that? I met Dick online around 8 years. We went on to became good friends. Dick found out my son had cancer and had no insurance at the time. He started a fundraiser where he, and many of his fellow detectorists donated merchandise which raised over $7000. Grateful cannot begin to describe our feelings.

In the process I met and got to know a little more about detecting, the people who love the hobby, and the tension between detectorists and archaeologists. I was naïve. What I had learned from my teachers, and later, many colleagues were that detectorists were my enemy. They destroyed archaeological sites. They looted priceless artifacts. They erased history.

Dick and I had many, many conversations on this subject. I learned this was simply not true for most detectorists. There was warranted anger and much mistrust. Most of the people I’ve met are good people. They don’t destroy. They don’t steal. Many of them even know more about history than half the people in archaeology. Especially those interested in a specific niche like the Civil War era.

Lisa Hume MacIntyre

I wish I had known now what I didn’t know 30 years ago. I wish there was more I could do to form a marriage between the two groups. I wish I could share my knowledge while absorbing yours. Because there is valuable knowledge in both groups. Working together, learning from each other would be nothing other than a gain.

Unfortunately, many archeologists can be power hungry, controlling, rigid, jerks. (As I’m sure many of you know) I know because I’ve worked with them. Being a woman archaeologist is extremely tough. This is a man’s profession. I’ve been shut out, shut down, and told to shut up! I developed a GIS model for a site we were digging. It revealed some very valuable information and even won first place at a symposium. It was a joint effort with the Geology Dept. My lead archaeologist refused to use the program. I tried on many occasions to get permission to use detectorists on digs. I was shut down every time.  I eventually walked away from the profession.

I am in no way saying all archaeologists are bad people, or that this will never work between the two groups. Many places are now routinely using detectors. Though from what I can dig up (pun intended) it is more prevalent in Europe…which has much better antiquities laws than the US). I just recently saw an article where US classes are now teaching metal detecting in archaeology. Another lean towards shutting out detectorists? I don’t know. I live in an area where the archaeologists are very unyielding (for lack of a better word) What I am saying is the younger generation needs to continue this fight for a better relationship as younger archaeologists enter the scene with, hopefully, better attitudes and more diversity. Changes have been made but so many more are needed.

I helped start the battle. But I am now also dealing with another battle, cancer. It has been a three-year battle and I’m doing very well. But chemo takes it out of you. I would love to see a continuation of mergers. I feel like it is a great loss to our history to not learn each other’s expertise and how at the end of the day we are simply people with a common goal. I will always offer what I can.

Thanks for listening. Please stay safe out there. No worm medicines!




Filed under Metal Detecting

23 responses to “Lisa Hume MacIntyre, Archaeologist & Good Friend…

  1. Hi Lisa:
    Bloody well said. All power to you.
    In my limited experience I’ve found archaeologists to be in the main, decent people and the younger generations of them realise that we’ve all got to get along together. But as you know, there is a tiny, bitter minority, who go out of their way to insult not only Detectorists in the most foulmouthed manner, but also their more skilled peers. In my view, they are in need urgent psychiatric counselling. They are to archaeology what the iceberg was to the Titanic.
    My very best wishes with the ongoing chemo therapy. God Bless you.

    • Lisa MacIntyre

      Hi John! Seemes like I worked alongside that tiny bitter minority. (Maybe tiny is the operative word here.) One in particular. He may have actually found the long lost Ft. Caroline. If he did it is an incredible find for history, though I suspect he will claim all credit as he has yet to mention any of us who worked many years with him on same search. Maybe I’m the one who is bitter!
      Thanks for the best wishes!

  2. john taylor

    hello! Lisa! I am humbled by your attitude towards detectorists. “arkys” “KNOW” what we do, and assume “most’ of us are thieves,and destroyers of historical sites and other public properties. well to a certain extent, they are correct. there ARE some in our hobby who do exactly that, but of course will never admit to it, and seldom, if ever get caught.

    the vast majority of detectorists DO, in fact abide by the rules, and leave sites the way they found them, with minimal ,if any, damage. the thievery is a direct result of ‘stealthily” sneaking onto private property with no permission granted, and yes, THIS also exists on a limited basis. i see absolutely “no” reason why “arkys” and metal detectorists can’t pool their resources, and “talent” to better mankind. the metal detector ‘should” be considered a “tool of the trade”, so to speak, and NOT used to threaten the arkys pursuit of artifacts that provide a better understanding of mankind’s endeavors throughout history.

    in my view, both “parties” should set aside their differences, and enter into a realm of cooperation for the betterment of the world at large.

    j (2-stabs,waitin’ on 3) t.

    • Lisa MacIntyre

      Hi John! Completely agree. Imagine if we worked together? One comment I used to hear a lot from archaeologist was, “Why should I teach them for free what I had to pay to learn?” How should I respond to that?
      2 jabs…waiting on booster!

      • john taylor

        hi Lisa!
        so everyone can benefit! that’s why! it’s better than shooting oneself in the foot just because you don’t like the looks of it! we need to cooperate instead of tearing each other down! both parties share a love of history, the difference is that both parties have a different approach, however,he end result is the same, recovery of arrtifacts,coins,..etc..etc ..that, in the final analysis benefits both disciplines.

        j (2 stabs,waitin on booster too!) t

  3. john taylor

    hi reverend! John! I would presume you are referring to the “administrators” who sit on the “top of the pile” (so to speak). the ones who are ignorant of the “business” end of a trowel! as most are familiar, the body “rots” from the head on down! I’m just sayin’

    j (2-stabs,waitin’ on 3 ) t.

    • Hello JT:
      I refer to that tiny minority in archaeological losers who because they lack intellect preside over failed careers, added to which is an underlying bitter resentment of those who gone on to become distinguished in their particular fields.

      To compensate, these losers embrace radical politics (usually hard Left socialism, though they themselves live like capitalists) to bring ALL and ANY historical research under political control…their political control. Here the ‘party line’ on interpreting the excavated data is stringently applied. For instance, I’ve heard it said Stone Age man was the first communist.

      Metal detecting will never replace archaeology, or vice versa, but we can help them and they can help us, with neither faction losing their identities.
      i’m just sayin’

  4. Joe

    Beautiful, wise words, Lisa. It’s always a win when 2 opposing sides can come together for a greater good. Whether it be in politics, religion, business, and yes…even metal detecting/Archeology.

    As you say, numbskulls exist in every walk of life, but it’s my honest opinion that most people in this world are good souls – like yourself. Kudos to you for going up against the status quo in your profession!!! Change can never happen without sacrifice and a bulldog of a fight, and you’re obviously a bigger person than some of your colleagues, for seeking to make inroads into the detecting community.

    I’m just a lowly coinshooter myself, and I don’t think any of my finds would interest an Archeologist much. But the reality is that there’s a minority in your profession who simply hate all detectorists, as a general rule. Hopefully your efforts will change that one day. I believe they very well may.

    On the other side of the equation, more than a few in my hobby aren’t very fond of Archeologists. This too is wrong, and we obviously have some work to do on that ourselves. As you yourself illustrate through your actions, not all in your profession are mean, scary people looking to outlaw our fun pastime.

    I offer you prayers and wish you a full recovery on your healing journey. We need you strong, as there is more history to find and barriers to break down 😉

    P.S. – Speaking of “looting sites”, please have a word with Dick about this. You should’ve seen my mini bar after he left my house last time!

  5. Lisa MacIntyre

    Hi Joe! Thank you for the very kind words. I’m not sure exactly what a coinshooter is but I’m quite certain it is neither lowly or uninteresting. That’s the thing. Everything we find in the ground is history. It tells a story of a person that once held that object. It may seem insignificant to the big shot looking for the find of a lifetime, but that coin, or poptop, or pottery sherd tells a human story. A history of us. Where we’ve been, what we’ve done, who we are. That right there is why I feel it is so worthwhile to share information. Small worthless objects in the dirt are essentially our story. Figuring out the story is such a thrill to me.

    Thank you for the prayers. I’m not giving up yet. They told me three years ago this was incurable. So far I’ve proved them wrong. I have more stuff to find.

    As far as Dick is concerned I gave up on wrangling him in long ago. Maybe a good padlock?

  6. njfella007

    Lisa, you’re VERY correct. I believe this is one of the areas where detectorists – including myself – must become more mindful. Most of what we find we casually categorize as “junk.” An old rusty rivet. A broken piece of a harmonica reed. And a zillion other whatsits (unidentified objects) that go into our trash pouch at the end of a hunt. As you say however…

    EVERYTHING has value. Value being a source of information that helps paint a bigger picture of a particular site. This might be one of the reasons your peers get frustrated with us. Admittedly, speaking for myself, I don’t look at what I’m doing/finding as academically as maybe I should. Not that I don’t get excited with the history I find…because I certainly do! But moving forward, I might have to be more mindful of the “junk”, for as you said so well, it ALL serves as clues to help put the jigsaw puzzle together.

    Dick, they had a deal on Schlitz, don’t hold it against me!

  7. Lisa MacIntyre

    Hi, New Jersey Fella? NJ.
    You have no idea how appreciative I am to hear you say those words. What a HUGE step in bridging an understanding of how all of our actions are part of a connecting picture. Something as small as a glass bead could be a clue to Native American contact with Spanish. Find a peach pit and a pottery shard in the same stratigraphic layer and suddenly you are establishing a story, a time-line. What happened here? Same goes, as you said, for everything found in the dirt. I’ve always suggested to document any find. Just a quick note. Or even a photo to make notes with later. You never know if it may prove useful someday. Thank so much!

  8. Tony

    Lisa, there is hope for the future not only dealing with archeologists but in dealing with your health.
    Stay positive you are in our prayers.

  9. wendell

    You are an honest, open minded woman and archaeology needs more people like you. Praying for you with your battle with cancer. Thank goodness you and Dick started communicating and respecting each others viewpoints.

  10. Lisa MacIntyre

    Hi Wendell. What a nice compliment! Really appreciate you taking the time to tell me.Thank you for the prayers.

  11. danhughes1

    I’ve never seen any of those treasure hunting “reality” shows, but I hear from others that they generally glorify stupid yahoos who dig their holes with power tools and yell and scream a lot when they make a find (a find that was planted just before the cameras were turned on).

    If THAT is the only exposure to our hobby that archeologists have, I don’t blame them for hating us. I’d hate us too.

    P.S. Lisa, a coinshooter is simply a treasure hunter whose main target is old coins (sometimes even new coins) rather than historical relics or precious metals.

    • Lisa MacIntyre

      Hi Dan. I have never seen any of those shows either but I suspect they are like all reality shows, staged and scripted for maximum drama. One has to hope anyone with half a brain sees them for what they are.
      Thanks for the explanation of a coinshooter. Do all detectorists have a specific item of interest they mainly look to find, like coins, brass buttons, etc.? Or a specific era?

  12. danhughes1

    It’s a big country, Lisa, and different areas have different concentrations. Many southerners are really into Civil War relics; Easterners like finding early colonial and Revolutionary War-era stuff. Out west it might be raw gold. But most of us hobbyists who have no specific goals, and we don’t care what we find as long as it’s interesting. I’m generally one of those; a pocketful of coins, both old and new, and that occasional gold ring are what keep me going.
    Because I’m also into old-time radio, one of my favorite finds was a 1935 Radio Orphan Annie Decoder Wheel!

  13. john taylor

    generally speaking, the vast majority of older hobbyists are attempting to find the rapidly diminishing silver coins that were used as pocket change from a long time ago.also there is a dedicated number of “jewelry” hunters that congregate at various beaches there are also, a dedicated group that enjoy just finding “recent drops”like more modern “clad” coins. my wife and me have lighted candles for you at our church. may god always hold you in the “palm of his ever lovin’ hands”..stay safe, and strong Lisa!

    j (2-stabs,waitn’ on “booster”) t.

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