Sunday, 29 November 2015

Palmyra Museum Loot Intercepted in Turkey?


I was suspicious of this news item and decided not to report it, but Sam Hardy has had a closer look, discovered several different and muddled versions, and decided: 'Antiquities, looted from Syria’s Palmyra Museum, seized while for sale on the local market in eastern Turkey? No'. He discusses and illustrates the two items reported. Both are pretty crude fakes. He describes the sellers as at best "exploitative but incompetent opportunists" rather than regime agents or tax-paying middlemen in cahoots with ISIL.

Vignette: vase not from Palmyra

UPDATE 12th Nov 2015
 To clarify, by "pretty crude fakes" I meant not the antiquities they were claimed to be. I agree the vessel is more likely to have been as a modern decorative item and not even to be intended to masquerade as an antiquity.

Turkey and the Syrian Opposition


Allegations from Tehran, 'Turkey arms Daesh in exchange for oil, antiquities' Press TV Nov 29th, 2015. The question is to what degree Turkish aid sent to Turkmen rebels in northeastern Syria is taking place and to what degree these supplies are reaching ISIL.

Vignette: Turkey


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Heritage Vandalism not just in Syria


It is not just in warm countries that delinquents with destructive tendencies take it out on the heritage, in Britain this week, a teenager was sentenced for starting a fire which gutted Fleet All Saints Church in Hampshire. His name is Daniel Finnerty. Many medieval churches have had the lead sheeting which covers their roofs stripped off to be sold by heritage vandals, this allows water to penetrate and weaken the structure of the building, causing collateral damage which can cost millions to fix - on top of re-roofing the building. Cultural barbarism is not the exclusive preserve of the stereotypical 'Muslims' of the xenophobic demonisations of the ant-immigration brayers.

What’s to be done about a Shrinking Passive PAS and a Milieu that Just Doesn't Get It? ?


Heritage Action have a thought-provoking text: 'PAS is shrinking. It really matters. So what’s to be done?', 28th Nov 2015. A tweet of a disgruntled FLO indicating that eighteen years on, the metal detectorists in her region really have not cottoned on to what the PAS means to them. As HA point out:
What did PAS ever do for us?” You mean apart from PR and ID services, massive positive advocacy to the Government, landowners and the public – and survival, and all completely free? Nothing mate.
I'd say enough is enough a failed social experiment in educating the tekkies is a failed social experiment. It did not work, time to STOP, and think of some other more holistic and more effective way of dealing with the Looting Matters.

Vignette: If the hat fits, we need to think of other ways

"Who owns art" turned into "Safe harbor" debate


The dealer and collectors' hackneyed argument "who owns art (anyway)?" began losing steam when faced with the rightful riposte that its not so much about "whether" to collect, but "how", it's not about ownership but standards and best practice. As a result they've drifted away from that, and redirected attention by depicting what they do as some form of "opposition" to a partly mythologised Hostile Other ("who threatens the values we all hold dear"). In other words they are attempting to garner support for extremist views by scapegoatism.

Thus we have seen the emergence of the "Safe harbor" trope in recent years. This has gone on alongside the "ISIL makes money by looting sites" trope (which in itself is the same kind of rhetorical and social engineering tactic which can be suggested to have its origins in the group of academics and activists gathered around the US Department of State). Dealers and collectors are currently being vilified (quite justifiably in my opinion) for failing to adapt to the changing circumstances in which the market finds itself by demanding and producing documentation verifying licit provenance (collecting histories) of the objects they handle.  Instead of responsibly buckling down to find ways of doing this and establish new standards of best practice in the industry, they strike out on a tangent. Employing a Two Wrongs argument has always been their main escape  and here it is too. For a long time collectors have claimed that by hoiking artefacts out of their archaeological context or removing them from a monument, they are "saving art" ("saving art for everybody by putting it in my private collection"). Unwilling to think up more sophisticated excuses, this is the one they are going with in the industry's 'ISIS-Crisis'.  Suddenly they start presenting the whole heritage debate in terms of "Syria" (but rarely post-2003 Iraq) and "the fight against ISIL" (as if ISIL was the only foreign group of militants anyone ever need to 'think' about).

Their argument goes like this:
"ISIL destroy monuments" they say (linking to no end of shocking ISIL propaganda videos showing them doing precisely that).
"This art is extremely important, the most important thing in this whole conflict", they say (falling haplessly into the very trap the provocation has set up for them).
"This uncivilised behaviour must STOP"  they say (showing they share the same values as the rest of us)
"We must bring everything we can carry off to our country where it is safe" they say (assuming their country will never become in any way a threat - the Paris seven attacked a theatre and restaurants, they could have done the same in a museum),
"regardless of how we get our hands on the art, the art is more important than anything else, it is OUR heritage and we wants it", they say.

First of all, Syria, Iraq and other regions of the MENA area are conflict zones, when Europe was last a conflict zone in the lifetime of our parents (and sadly for some in southern and eastern Europe the lifetime of our generation too), cultural heritage was damaged. Some artefacts did get evacuated to the US - and in some cases like the Hungarian Royal Crown, it took the Americans a long time to give it back after the War ended (I have discussed other removals of items from Europe in 1945 by the US, both state-sponsored and private, elsewhere in this blog. Russia likewise has stuff "evacuated" from the front line in 1944/45 which still has not come back). Obviously, despite the existence f international conventions and what we all would want to be otherwise, destruction of monuments and heritage (and much else besides) is what happens in any social conflict. Unfortunately there are inevitably those who see the breakdown of the old order in such situations as an opportunity to take things which would otherwise be unavailable. They take them for themselves - or more often than not for sale.

While we can all agree that the destruction of heritage must be prevented and halted, gathering up the loose bits and taking them out of the country as trophies to an imagined philanthropism (which in reality is masking greed) is quite obviously not the way this can be achieved. In particular this is not the case when the introduction of these desired things onto the market is potentially doing its part to perpetuate the conflict (it is not enough to attempt to dismiss the issue on the grounds that there is contention in the shadowyness of the antiquities market about the scale at which the latter is the case).

There are a huge number of issues that need to be debated around the simplistic gung-ho "America (or France) Saves the World's Art" argument. This is especially the case when it primarily comes to the public domain when used merely as a deflecting tactic by the dealers' lobbyists (see what Peter Tompa and the ADCAEA are up to) and big-colonial-museums-must-have-more-stuff brigade (James Cuno is the poster-boy). We need to examine very closely the motivations of those who support such schemes, and - in particular - look at the effects on the citizens of the source countries.

Museums, Dealers and Collectors Getting Hands on Foreign Ancient Objects


Jonathan Tokeley Parry and friend
CBC Radio recently re-ran material first broadcast in June 2015: 'Who Owns Ancient Art? Part 1' ( Friday November 20, 2015)  Listen to Full Episode 54:00' and 'Who Owns Ancient Art? Part 2' (Friday November 27, 2015) Listen to Full Episode 53:59.

The blurb reads:
When the the Taliban and ISIS destroy ancient artifacts, the world responds with outrage. But where should that outrage lead: taking ancient art out of the country of origin? Or would that amount to what some have called neo-colonialism and cultural genocide? Just who owns ancient art? That's the central question that Paul Kennedy explores in this two-part series, produced by contributor Anik See.
Among those interviewed: Jonathan Tokeley-Parry, Matthew Bogdanos, James Cuno, Nika Collison (member of the Haida Nation, and curator at the Haida Gwaii Museum.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Friday Retrospect: What the Supporters of "Partnership" Ignore


In my opinion, those who think that we will get that much-needed "best practice" from UK metal detectorists by patting them all on the head, cooing and being everso-nice are deluding themselves: 'UK Metal Detecting: Heritage Action Challenged Again (Yawn), by a Newbie '. After presenting some thoughts on the typical sort of responses we hear from a typical range of metal detectorists, I conclude, I think not without reason:
In my opinion, long term observation of this phenomenon indicates starkly that it's a waste of money trying to outreach to those that resist education. And its a waste of time British archaeologists persisting in  faffing around at the tax-payers' expense trying to achieve the unachievable for the only reason that its easier to deceive yourself and others that its different than it is, than actually taking real action to deal with the problem of collection-driven exploitation (CDE) of the archaeological record head on.
Nobody has thought fit to challenge that point of view. Ask your FLO why not.

[Mr Currell by the way never came back with any more of his Jim-Bob 'justifications'. I doubt that this is because he reconsidered his opinion and decided to STOP pocketing the evidence of Britain's past.]

 


Iraqi Smuggler caught


Smuggler apprehended by Iraqi commandos NW of Baghdad in possession of ancient antiquities. To whom were they on the way?

Wick Hoard Mashup


The Mail account of a new hoard buried in or after the reign of Marcus Aurelius (c. 160) has to be one of the worst-written in recent years (Sarah Griffiths, ' Hoard of Roman coins dating back to Mark Antony are discovered in Welsh field ' MailOnline 26 November 2015). It should actually be about the Treasure inquest, because the hoard was found some time ago. The text of the article wanders round random topics in a wholly confused way, the ultimate in British portable antiquities dumbdown. Without the space-filling waffle the main facts are:
A hoard of silver coins [....] have [sic] been discovered in a Welsh field [...], the 91 coins have been hailed by history experts as 'a significant find' and could be worth 'tens of thousands of pounds.'[...] They were unearthed by two friends out walking in a field near the small village of Wick in South Wales [...] Consultant psychiatrist Dr Richard Annear, 65 and John Player, 43, came across the small pot containing the money, including three particularly old silver denarii. They reported it to curators who were able to remove a chunk of soil containing the delicate find safely. 
Except the photo of that "delicate pot" shows the archaeologists did not do a very good job of it. It is not explained how "walkers" found a buried pot with coins. Perhaps they have X-ray eyes that can see through soil. But no, the problem seems to be that the reporters today found it in some way embarrassing to mention they'd been using metal detectors. As Edward Besly explains:

 Posted on You Tube by Wales News TV




 

"Detectorists" Responsible detectorists caught "Nighthawking"


Fans of the comedy series "Detectorists" will probably be disappointed by the second series which has not really got anywhere at all and been very lacklustre in the comedy, last night's was the penultimate episode (there will be a Christmas special which is currently being filmed [spoiler alert], part of it in the BM Treasure department). The storyline still has not really taken shape, but I really enjoyed the comedy in the last episode of the walkie-talkie commentary on the "stakeout" of an aircraft crash site (apparently with Nazi gold).

What was interesting though is that the arrogant two-man "team of elite detectorists working with the museum" were nabbed "nighthawking", showing that the boundary between the two worlds is just having the right piece of paper (in this case a MOD search licence). Given that the majority of detectorists present finds to the PAS, or flog them off on eBay without showing any kind of signed search and take agreement, or finds allocation agreement whatsoever, the boundary is a fine one.

Many 'responsible detectorists' will claim to be an elite, separate from the law-breakers, but ask them for a piece of paper to show they have gained full ownership rights by a formal agreement  and it seems not all of them have any such thing. This brings us close to the fourth category of illegal artefact hunting identified recently by the Glasgow criminological theorists (see 'Whatever happened  to the "Glasgow Fourth"?' Tuesday, 5 March 2013 or search for "Glasgow Fourth").



Edinburgh finds Photos, Coins though are Probably half way round the world by now


In order that dealers and collectors can keep an eye open for them, the National Museum of Scotland manages to find after all photographs of the coins  of dates "1555, 1601 and 1604" stolen there September 2nd, which could well have travelled half way round the world and back in that time....  National collection shambles.  Oh, if you are a taxpayer up there, you've just lost assets worth, they say, "£20,000", while they've been looking for the photos. Go here for the pictures of three coins and two alleged suspects. I bet they'll find neither after all this time.


English Artefact Hunting: And When PAS has Gone, We Will.... ?


The British love the Portable Antiquities Scheme of England (and for the moment, Wales). Metal detectorists love it because it spares no effort to totally legitimise their exploitive hobby. Archaeologists love it because it gets metal detectorists out of their hair and produces all sorts of "data" (I use the term loosely) to study. The public love the constant flow of ooo-ahhh glittery Treasures each with a neatly-packaged story to go with it (such as the stereotypical "local man does good, surprises the experts" kind of stuff).  Local government so far have been happy that by funding a cheerful lady in an attic room at the end of a long corridor to do the metal detecting head patting and keep Bloomsbury in touch, they can show the public all sorts of said glittery treasures (not making too much noise about who actually pays the Treasure ransoms so it can go in the local museum instead of a private collection).

All this is about to end. In May the PAS underwent a silent shakeup, and is now under new management in a precarious financial situation. As I predicted (and it gives me zero pleasure in being proven right here) the 'local partners' are dropping away. Recently it was Norfolk (you can sign a petition here), now it is Lancashire. Details of the approved Lancashire County Council heritage and other cuts are available here. Rescue are raising questions about how this will affect planning and its role in archaeological resource management. Meanwhile the local FLO is worried:
  7 godz.7 godzin temu  Reading this makes me think my host museum is actually on the list of museums to be cut :-(
 So, in the case of the PAS, it's no longer really a question of "what would happen if..." but "what measures do we have in place to deal with the situation when....". So, what measures have the archaeologists supporting artefact hunting and collecting in England have in place? Wishful thinking and naive hoping only? Of course 18 years of the incessant presentation of archaeology as something anyone with a metal detector can do and get "good results" has not exactly been very helpful in persuading local authorities that HERs are all that important in the public eye as vote-catchers.

All that is needed to tick off the 'archaelogical provision' is a smiling volunteer in an attic room at the end of a long corridor of dusty boxes containing an archive printout of the former HER in a museum prominently displaying a few heaps of coins and a gold torc in some well-lit cases and a few "recent metal detector finds in the news" by the gift shop.

Vignette: Time running out.


Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Silent Crisis of the UK


John Harris, 'End of austerity? A silent crisis in local services tells the true story' Guardian Thursday 26 November 2015
Over the next five years – and possibly for even longer than that – the kind of dire, drastic cuts councils have been forced to make since 2010 will be continuing. Indeed, the situation looks more impossible than ever. To quote one very reliable source: “Even if councils stop filling in potholes, maintaining parks, closed all children’s centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres and turned off every street light, they will not have saved enough money to plug the financial black hole they face by 2020.”
It seems that in the UK, certain sectors of the heritage are doomed to
fall into the same fragile category as libraries, parks, bus subsidies, welfare advice, help for homeless people, transport to school for children with special educational needs, and more: a great roll call of the basics of any halfway civilised society, either under threat, or disappearing fast.
Here is a summary  from the CBAof what the Chancellor's plans mean for the historical environment.

Norfolk Petition, Not Enough Cats?


Shock-horror
The Save Norfolk's PASt petition has nearly 1000 signatures, pretty poor considering how "important" people say they think archaeology is. Also pretty unimpressive that we have perhaps 16000 metal detectorists, every single one of whom benefits from the umbrella of legitimacy the PAS (begun in Norfolk) offers their exploitive hobby. Without the PAS the hobby (and the public's picture of the heritage) would not be what it is today. It is pretty incomprehensible that this has so far not received very much support from this "history loving" community, if nowhere else. Perhaps more cat photos are needed to attract attention. The bottom one symbolises metal detectorists who apparently will not "see the meat" ever unless it jumps up and hits them in their faces, then they do the "OMG" face, tap furiously away at their keybords, send an irate copy-and-paste letter to their MP, and generally run around like headless chickens for 19 days, before losing interest.

"Can't see a problem M8"

Bulk Lots from Israel? Not a Good Idea Perhaps


Some Israeli dealers sell uncleaned lots of coins, by the bucket load. I've had a few run-ins with a mouthy Jerusalem dealer who does this. Anyway, no names are given but:
" 9 min9 minut temu Hoard of ancient coins and jars seized by Israel's Antiquities Authority from North Israeli antiquities dealer".
but it seems it is another dealer involved.
Police and Israel Antiquities Authority agents on Tuesday arrested an art dealer from northern Israel after finding him with over 3,000 illegally obtained ancient coins — valued in the tens of thousands of dollars.  The suspect, a resident of Kibbutz Beit Hashita and a licensed antiquities dealer, was charged with attempting to sell the objects he illegally acquired to buyers abroad, and to do so without an export permit. The IAA said in a statement on Thursday that investigators found over 3,000 coins — some over 2,000 years old — and lead and ceramic objects in the man’s home. By Israeli law, antiquities found in Israel are property of the state, and the IAA must be notified within 15 days of discovery. [...] The man said he assembled a large portion of the coin collection by collecting them in the fields near the kibbutz and cleaning them in a lab in his home, the report said. [...] The man, whose name wasn’t immediately released for publication [admitted] to illegal sale of antiquities and exporting antiquities without a permit. He was released to house arrest and his artifacts and computer confiscated by the authorities. Formal charges are expected to be brought against the suspect in the coming days. 
It is still unclear how in the light of the local laws, US dealers can claim to be buying "1000 uncleaned coins found in Israel" legitimated by an Israeli export licence. Can they explain that and say from which licensed dealer they were acquired?

Conflict Archaeology Bibliography


Chris Jones has a useful 'Conflict Archaeology Bibliography' Gates of Nineveh November 25, 2015
"a bibliography of academic works related to conflict archaeology, cultural heritage protection during armed conflict, and the use of archaeological and historical arguments in armed conflict. This bibliography will be regularly updated and suggested additions are encouraged".

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Two Rallies, Two Counties: Success and Failure


Ann Byard in a hard hat (Twitter)
John Winter, 'All Our Yesterdays – Anglo-Saxon Burial and Brooch' 26 November 2015.
1) Weekend Wanders rally, West Hanney in Oxfordshire, Sunday 21st December 2014, a multiple Anglo-Saxon coin deposit found by metal detectorist Chris Bayston. FLO in attendance Anni Byard, the Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) for Oxfordshire. Metal detectorist prepared to wait for results. Searching stopped, site protected, archaeologsts brought in, context of find documented. By contrast:

2) Weekend Wanders rally, Lenborough in Buckinghamshire, Sunday 20th September 2009,a single Anglo-Saxon brooch found by metal detectorist Paul Coleman ("row upon row of coins stacked neatly"). FLO in attendance Ros Tyrell, the Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) for Buckinghamshire. Metal detectorist did not wait. Keyhole hoiking commenced immediately, hoard emptied onto tabletop in the evening, context of find totally lost.
So, it seems the main deciding factor in turning collecting into archaeology is the person and character of teh Finds Liaison Officer whose job it is to liaise with finders to get good practice. As Mr Winter's account suggests Buckinghamshire that day apparently experienced FLO Fail, even though there was a good example to learn from five years earlier in a neighbouring county. Tragic.

Ms Byard has been mentioned in this blog a number of times, not always coming over too well, but at least here she did what her job description requires, so praise where praise is due. And as far as Lenborough is concerned, criticism where criticism is merited - though don't hold your breath to hear any from the Portable Antiquities Scheme who we may easily observe institutionally have very little self-criticism. So I note from the programme that there was nothing at the PAS conference two days ago about 'Avoiding a Second Lenborough'. But a lot of "didn't we all do well?"

UPDATE 26th November 2015
Coincidentally, Ms Byard  points out herself today how well she's doing:
1 godz.1 godzinę temu
And here it is - 25,000th find - not much to look at but only the 3rd known!
Note the creepy retweet to Vaizey. Now, how many finds made in Oxford in that same period of time and pocketed by metal detectorists have not been recorded? Is it not valid to point out that this too is a statistic of which the public should be aware? If it is a valid point, why are the PAS keeping so quiet about it?



.

Another Good Initiative from SAFE

Over the past year, the SAFE team has been hard at work creating new public resources to be used by diverse groups of people wishing to advocate for cultural heritage preservation. Though still a work in progress, various components of our “SAFE Toolkits” will be released on our website over the coming months. These toolkits will be filled with resources available for public use. From posters to social media ideas, apps to event guides, specific toolkits will cater to specific needs, whether you’re a student, teacher, community volunteer, or museum educator. Cultural heritage belongs to everyone, which is why we want to encourage everyone to become a cultural heritage advocate. You bring the passion, we’ll provide the tools. To give you a sneak peek, today we present the ‘SAFE Passport’: a simple reminder to travelers and tourists about the damage caused by purchasing looted artifacts while abroad. 
Will "responsible dealers" be promoting this initiative?

War, More Than ISIS, Is Destroying Syria's Ancient Sites


'Tel Brak idols', on the market for years
By focussing on blackening the reputation of ISIL, analysis of satellite images shows that the media are giving a poor picture of the cure the actual extent of damage to Syria’s rich cultural heritage.
The team examined images of 1,450 ancient sites across the shattered nation and found that one in four has been damaged or looted in the civil war that began in 2011. More than half of those sites are in rebel-controlled areas, followed by those dominated by Kurdish forces. Damage at sites claimed by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, accounts for a quarter of the destruction, with the remainder in areas loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “It is quite evident that overall incidents of looting are much higher in Kurdish and opposition-held areas than in either Syrian regime or ISIL areas,” said Jesse Casana, a Dartmouth University archaeologist who is leading the analysis. This finding should not be surprising, given that looting tends to spike in places with no civil authority, Casana told a gathering of the American Schools for Oriental Research in Atlanta earlier this month. Contested areas, such as those around the ancient city of Aleppo, have suffered even more extensively than sites under ISIS control. [...] When the team categorized damage as minor, moderate, or severe, sites in ISIS-controlled areas were more likely to have suffered severe damage than those in other parts of Syria. “This could be read as evidence of more organized, potentially state-sanctioned looting in those areas,” Casana added. 
Of course, this is more or less what Sam Hardy and I have been saying all along, for at least two years now. But it is nice to see the Americans catching up. I would say though that there is a need here to look at the phenomenon diachronically. In this and Sam's blog are documented examples where areas now in the control of one group were looted well before the group now there consolidated their current hold. The article is interesting for the mention of how even the team backed by the DoS has had problems getting access to up-to-date satellite imagery.

Andrew Lawler, 'War, More Than ISIS, Is Destroying Syria's Ancient Sites' National Geographic November 25, 2015

"The world must find ways to intervene and protect antiquities when nation-states cannot do so"



In his latest text, James Cuno argues we should send in the Blue Helmets to Syria and Iraq to "save history" ('ISIS Rampage: A Threat to Cultural Heritage That Belongs to All' YaleGlobal, 26 November 2015)
Deteriorating security in Syria and Iraq, and the tenacity and complexity of ISIS, requires a multilateral response from the international community, and a rethinking of how it can overcome the inherent limitations and obstacles of the nation-state–based regime for the protection of cultural heritage. If the heritage destroyed and under threat by ISIS “belongs to all Syrians and all humanity,” as UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has claimed it, the international community must find a way to overcome the limitations imposed on cultural heritage by the United Nations.
One wonders though whether this is a serious suggestion , or whether the President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust is simply trying to score points in his long-running neo-colonialist battle against UNESCO. 

Dr Cuno avoids detailing how this would operate. There is a vicious war going on in Syria and it's not much better in Iraq. How many men and women would be needed to protect one site from ISIL militants intent on looting or destroying the next Nimrud or Mar Elian or the barrel bombs of the Assad regime? How, actually would he like to see this done? What weapons would they us? Light sabres, fighter plane squads strafing anyone who comes near an ancient site in their own homeland?  Who would take the decision which of the tens of thousands of archaeological sites and cultural monuments ("belonging to us all") people will be sent to die and kill for? On which criteria will such a selection be based? Religious, commercial (tourist value), ease of access, archaeological potential?  How many troops would he send into the war-zone what would they do there in real terms and how would their safety be assured while they were doing it?  Do Mr and Mrs Cuno have sons serving in the armed forces who he'd send to save a few nineteenth century graveyards etc. from bulldozing? Would he sacrifice his sons for a Roman arch and row of sun-bleached columns in Palmyra? Really?


Save Lancashire's Heritage Petition.


Save Lancashire's Heritage - please sign the petition.
Lancashire County Council has made proposals that will devastate Lancashire's heritage. [...] the closure of 5 museums in the next year [...] funding to heritage will be sliced by 93% in the next 2 years [...]  all staff will be lost (including many specialists) [...] Remember once its all gone we can't get it back

Nobody "Doubts", but Nobody has "Proven Anything" either


Daniel Rivero has a rather ill-titled article in Fusion ('Meet the lonely online warriors leading the fight against looted art', November 24, 2015) but the ending is worth quoting because blackguard dealers will be putting a different spin on things:
While the researchers I spoke to don’t doubt that looting is going on in ISIS-controlled territories, nobody suggested that there is an uptick in goods from the region flooding the world markets. And no researcher has definitively drawn a link between patternized looting and the funding of the largest terrorist organization in the world. So if looting and selling is going on, as many suspect, it’s happening in an investigative vacuum. Everyone is talking about it, but no one is doing actually actively, anything. Not even one case has been proven", Tsirogiannis, of Trafficking Culture, told me. “Look what I do,” he continued. “I am producing evidence, identifying objects, objects I find are being repatriated, and all this proves that my research is correct, that my thesis is correct. So why on an international level is there still not even one team that works on [ISIS]?” If the international community doesn’t work together either through academia, governments or NGOs to fund researchers like him (but not specifically him, he wanted me to stress), then the hope of identifying and dismantling these organizations across the world is greatly diminished, he said. “Within the last fifteen years we have five lost opportunities for examining how and if antiquities are leaving conflict zones. We lost Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria,” Tsirogiannis warned. “What about Yemen?” I asked him. “Yes, yes. Yemen too, you’re right. Six countries in 15 years,” he said. “Tell me: What does this mean for the future of the world?” he asked. “This is escalating into something bigger.”
poor old Yemen, always getting ignored. By the way Mr Rivero, it's not just "art", this is archaeological evdence being trashed for the buyers to pocket.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Old-Looking Objects Seized from Dealers in Iran


A Tabletop of goodies saved from
entering the antiquities market
Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) 'Objects of historical interest seized in Tehran' Cultural Heritage Iran in Pictures November 24, 2015

The objects, including gold jewelry, silver coins, a seal that dates back to the Sassanid era, and figurines, were seized in three sting operations which led to the arrest of six smugglers. As many as 278 historical objects and 10 fake antiques have been seized from smugglers, the director general of Tehran provincial Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department said. The objects, including gold jewelry, silver coins, a seal that dates back to the Sassanid era, and figurines, were seized in three sting operations which led to the arrest of six smugglers. After laboratory examination, the items will be sent to museums to be put on display, the official said.
You can look at the photos ("released by the Iranian Labour News Agency") yourselves. If they see only "ten" fakes here, I really do not know what's going on.

Sam Hardy on Verona Museum Theft


It is worth taking a look at Sam Hardy's discussion: 'Were Verona Civic Museum’s paintings stolen to fund terrorism, stolen to order to supply a collector, or just stolen?':
Seventeen paintings have been stolen from a museum in Italy. They are theoretically worth €15 million/$16 million/£10.5 million though, whether they were stolen to be sold or stolen to be kept (then sold), any black market value may be far lower. The bigger question, right now, is why they were stolen…

PAS Puff Booklet Available

 

More PAS propaganda promoting artefact hunting and collection:
7 godz.7 godzin temu
'50 Finds from Cheshire' is now available from the Grosvenor, Weaver Hall, Lion Salt Works and Congleton Museums :)
But the thousands of metal detected and pocketed finds unreported and unrecorded are available nowhere, except here: eBay British Antiquities 2,578 listings today.

When are the PAS going to present the other side of artefact hunting and collecting to its public audience (who pay for it)? Where is the booklet that presents artefact hunting to the British public in the context of the publc concern over "looting" (the same thing of course) in Iraq , Syria and Egypt? Where is the PAS information about the issues surrounding buying antiquities on eBay? (There is one, who knows where to find it and direct members of the public there?)

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Kingscote Illegal Artefact Hunting: Update



The three artefact hunters caught by nightvision cameras at Kingscote, Gloucestershire (Cotswold farmer claims detectorists 'raping land of Roman history' 12 October 2015), have still not been identified and reported to police by any of the UK's 16000 "responsible" (I use the term loosely) artefact hunters. they have simply vanished into thin air, despite relatively clear images of their rather distinctive physiognomy being broadcast on national TV and figured in newspapers. Certainly, there is more than a handful of metal-detecting individuals out there who knows very well who these people are, but "ambassadors for the hobby" that they are, have decided to "keep sztum" and let these men continue to get away with what they are shown as doing on the BBC. UK metal detectorists claim to a man "we are not all nighthawks" ("we all hate nighthawks, they get us a bad reputation") but every single one of themkm who covers up for culture criminals are themselves tactitly accepting the anti-social and criminal mentality as part of British metal detecting. It is time for the really responsible deectorists to speak out, the merely declaratively responsible ones will not. Where are you?


TAKE A GOOD LOOK at this behaviour, for these are precisely the sort of people the PAS wants to grab more and more millions of public quid to make into the "partners" of the British Museum, archaeological heritage professionals and to whom they want us all to entrust the exploitation of the archaeological record. Take a good look and decide what you think about that as a "policy".  

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Trove of Antique Roman Coins Found in Swiss Orchard without a Metal Detector



'' Discovery News

A Swiss fruit-and-vegetable farmer in Ueken, in the northern canton of Aargau, Switzerland spotted some corroded green coins in a molehill in his orchard in July while inspecting his cherry orchard. He reported the find and after months of discreet excavations, archaeologists were able to document a hoard of 4166 bronze and silver coins (total weight 15 kilos), one of the biggest such treasures ever found in Switzerland. The coins date from the reign of Emperor Aurelian (year 270-275) to that of Maximilian (286-305), with the most recent coins dated to year 294. Because the land had been farmed, and despite all the rubbish collectors try to foist off on you about fertilisers, the coins were in good condition. Because the hoard had not been found by metal detectorists, it could be excavated properly (unlike hords in Britain hoiked out roughly like the Lenborough Hoard) and it was found that "some of the coins, made mainly of bronze but with an unusually high silver content of five percent, were buried in small leather pouches".
How much the coins are worth today is beside the point, Matter said, pointing out that the farmer would not be allowed to keep his treasure. “He will likely get a finders fee,” he said, “but the objects found belong to the public, in accordance with Swiss law.” The Ueken treasure is set to go on display at the Vindonissa de Brugg Museum in Aargau.
So, why does Britain "need" artefact hunters?

Paris's plan to protect cultural treasures from terrorists


Croquembouche
There seems to be a general lack of discussion of the French government's notion of providing "artefact asylum" (Jonathan Jones, 'Asylum for artefacts: Paris's plan to protect cultural treasures from terrorists' Guardian 20 November 2015; Ed Adamczyk, 'Hollande proposes that Syrian antiquities be brought to France for safekeeping', UPI Nov. 17th, 2015 ). The original text here.

- "a new European database of stolen cultural property": Why not? But can we amalgamate it effectively with other existing ones? But then, in terms of antiquities, the French seem not to have noticed that everybody has been saying for yonks that a database of objects known to be stolen helps not a jot with freshly-looted objects. We've got one of those (ALR) and it's not working. 

- "a European Monitoring Centre to scrutinise the illicit art trade": Absolutely, the more the merrier, but why just scrutiny? Let us have proper regulation. It has to have teeth.

- "a special fund to preserve and reconstruct imperilled antiquities": (as if we do not have any of those within Europe), but yes, let us make lots of money available for documentation, securing the fragments, repair and where possible,  anastylosis of destroyed monuments like Warsaw after WW2. How to raise it? Somebody suggested on the Guardian comments thread:
"What they should be doing is setting up an international treaty so that national police forces can confiscate looted antiquities from the shysters in Paris, London, New York, etc who have bought them on the black market, in fact there should be hefty fines on them to be used in restoring damaged antiquties".
and why not?

- "a programme to train more archaeologists in Iraq and Syria": and not just archaeologists. But then everybody's doing it - are they trainng them for the same things in the same ways? More co-ordination here needed. But having the personnel is not enough, they need places to work from and in, and resources.

- but "providing asylum for antiquities"? Which antiquities? Those from the market, or are they proposing shipping out the antiquities evacuated from museums in occupied Syria and Iraq now in the shrinking areas held by the regimes of these floundering states? The latter seems to be suggested here:
In an address to the 38th meeting of the UNESCO conference in Paris, Hollande said he would assemble a group of French archaeologists and local authorities to remove antiquities from Syria for safekeeping in France. His plan, he said, would protect artifacts from "fanatics who are attacking the living and the dead, all who have humanity today and tomorrow, and those of yesterday." Officials of the Syrian government say more than 300,000 artifacts have been moved to safe places within the country, including from areas controlled by IS.
How would this be arranged/ executed? Under what legal measures and safeguards? When will the material return, and to whom will it be returned and in what form? What happens if evacuating the stuff is seen by the Syrians as an admission that their whole state will be overrun and they do not want to countenance the possibility of defeat (and if that is the case, why is France going to rescue old stones and pots and not people)?

That is just a few of the points that come to mind. Where is the discussion?


Farmer Brown to speak at the Portable Antiquities Conference?


Another cogent post on the Heritage Journal which will be PASsed over in total (embarrassed) silence by the supporters of British policies on artefact hunting: 'Farmer Brown to speak at the Portable Antiquities Conference!'

And by the way, now the LavaPAS is being run by the BM's Department of 'Learning, Volunteers and Audiences', why is Farmer Brown not invited to speak at the conference? What kind of body is it that silences and ignores its critics, instead of addressing the issues at hand?

Friday, 20 November 2015

Coin Fondling "Independents": Two examples


Medal of Yavin (from Mint in box).
Ancient coin fondlers and other collectors like to imagine that by accumulating numbers of ancient artefacts ripped from their context and divorced from their findspots by documentation-discarding-dealers and middlemen  they are somehow participating in scholarship. When asked for any kind of textbook setting out a modern methodology of 'heap-of-loose-coins-on-a-table-numismatics' the proponents of this model fall into an embarrassed silence, before erupting in the typically dismissively aggressive response one would expect from this chip-on-the-shoulder milieu when asked for the specifics.

John Hooker (as he reminds us, 'FSA') decides to show us this brand of numismatics in action on the basis of the coins of Tarentum, and warns:
The complexities of mythology cannot be exaggerated, but whenever we have to add political and monetary history to this picture as is quite common in numismatics, it is no small wonder that the subject of numismatics can only be presented, academically, in an introductory fashion. No single work presents a complete picture of this coin, and the issues (including those of other cities) to which it is related. 
He then goes into a show-and-tell of a loose coin in a mode well illustrated here:
The medal of valor was engraved in [sic] a stylized flower that resembled an emblem used by the Galactic Republic of old. At its heart was a stylized a rising sun that symbolized the dawn of a new hope in the wake of the Alliance's victory over the Galactic Empire. [....] This medal was first seen being presented to Luke Skywalker and Han Solo by Leia Organa in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. Chewbacca's not being awarded a medal in the film was a source of discontent for many Star Wars fans. While a number of stories now considered part of Star Wars Legends, such as The Day after the Death Star!, confirmed that Chewbacca did receive a medal, Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo  and Chewbacca Adventure is the first canon tale to confirm this.
The reverse is fairly plain, with an inscription helping to understand what it is and where it is from, like most of the coins "studied" by coin fondlers:
Carefully recreated from original archival materials and fully authorized and endorsed by Lucasfilm Ltd. Constructed from solid die-cast metal plated with 18-karat gold with a rich matte finish. Suspended from an olive-green ceremonial ribbon like the ones used for military medals of honor. [...] Certificate of Authenticity.
Mr Hooker FSA will no doubt be able to explain the 'difference' between this show-and-tell and his show-and-tell about Apollo Hyakinthios based on Robert Graves' mythology book ("avoid abridgements") and the dolphin riders of Taras with its "looks like" comparanda.
We see, also, that the story of Arion is also conflated with Phalanthos/Taras but I think that mythological "drift" rather than syncretism is the most likely reason. I have also seen the dolphin rider on the Gundestrup cauldron described as Arion, but his identity as Taras is certain. A lot of the confusion about the Gundestrup cauldron is due to a lack of mythological/iconographic knowledge (especially of the Greek). 

More "special knowledge" claimed by the collectors, and the alleged ignorance of everybody else. The rest of us see a picture of somebody riding a big fish which is probably not intended as a dolphin, and that is as far as you can go without unbridled speculation and guesswork.


Mr Hooker FSA makes reference to "John Francisco (an independent scholar and numismatist)" but documents no addresses or personal data "to place his writings in context" as both Mr Hooker FSA and an ANA/ACCG dealer apparently deem is totally necessary behaviour in numismatic circles. We do not hear what it is he is "independent" of, unless it is the necessity of supporting any his 'scholarly' statements with references unless to a single general coin handbook and a Loeb translation of Pausanius. He is also cited as an example of numismatists "taking into consideration the many weight standards under which Greek coins were struck and the connected political/historical implications". What we find under the link he supplies is mostly in this sort of vein:
Okay, good. Let's see if I can come up with something ;) First of all, am I sure that we have all the types of spread fabric staters amongst the five? Emotionally, I am sure, but logically we cannot be sure. We have enough mints that are represented by only one, two or three coins that we should not have total confidence that we have it all. However, with that caveat, I have got a set of theories that I am following until I am either satisfied with them, or until they (individually or collectively) explode!! And you all get to watch! :)  [...]  together they make up a really nice set in the Pythagorean cosmogony given in Hippolytus. Animal (Sybaris' bull), Vegetable (Metapontum's barley ear), Metal (we would say mineral, Kroton's bronze tripod). The force of strife or war, (antipathy, Poseidonia's Poseidon wielding a trident) and the opposite force of peace or love (sympathy, Kaulonia's Apollo purifying himself at the valley of Tempe). Animal, vegetable, mineral, war and peace  [...]  I think that the Pythagoreans had a plan concerning what types for coins they wanted, but I don't think that that plan survived unscathed and was implemented completely. Laos may be an abberation, it may mess the whole Pythagorean "message" up, but it couldn't do that if it wasn't incuse. It is like a little guy giving the great Pythagorean system, the finger. "Yes, there are great gods, but there are little gods too and we're going to support the little guy." 
and here we see the coiney doing the equivalent with his mumbo-jumbo surmises.  You can make your mind up whether the form or content consist of any form of scholareship known this side of the planet Tatouinne.

I think that, should coineys insist on employing their specious argument that regulating the no-questions-asked market which masks the flow of freshly-surfaced illicit antiquities would in some way hinder their own brand of 'independent coin-in-hand scholarship', it first behoves them to show that  'heap-of-loose-coins-on-a-table-numismatics'actually merits the use of the term scholaship. A discipline has - by definition a body of methodology that separates it from uncontrolled inventive imagination and speculation. Let us see a modern textbook (preferably textbooks) setting out the basis for considering fondling of loose coins (isolated from their contexts of deposition and discovery) any kind of an academic discipline, independent or not (cue: more personal attacks on the questioner, but no proper reply).


 

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Switzerland's Tough New Stance on Freeports Will Shake the Art World


Geneva Freeports (Photo via: Geneva-freeports.ch)
I would imagine this is not a good time to be in the antiquities market, all the old stand-bys are gradually being eroded away. Like the no-questions-asked freeport system (Henri Neuendorf, 'Switzerland's Tough New Stance on Freeports Will Shake the Art World'  Artnet, November 19, 2015)
The Swiss parliament approved stricter regulations for freeports and customs warehouses yesterday, according to a government announcement. The regulations are part of a wider crackdown on money laundering, smuggling, and other illegal activities that Switzerland has launched. The amendment to the Swiss Customs Act, which comes into effect on January 1, 2016, also grants the Federal Customs Administration (EZV) new power to monitor and control the entry and exit of goods more efficiently and effectively. Under the new regulations, the government introduced a six-month time limit on the storage of goods intended for export. 
To enhance transparency, the identity of the buyer of the goods that are to be exported to Swiss freeports must be declared. With the introduction of the new amendment, the legislature wishes to ensure the required transparency towards domestic and foreign authorities on the stored goods.
The days of collectors hiding their prized artworks from tax authorities could be numbered. Furthermore, the black market trade in illicit antiquities and stolen artworks will be significantly impacted by the requirement to reveal the contents of the crates going in and out of the duty-free warehouses. According to the Swiss publication Cash, a 2013 report by the Swiss Federal Audit Office determined that the long-term storage of goods with great value was found to be indicative of illegal storage for the purpose of tax optimization or to circumvent trade regulations on cultural goods or weaponry.
One wonders when the dealers will set up another petition to "protect collectors' rights"....

Paris Talks on Illicit Antiquities


The role of free ports in the trade in illicit antiquities was discussed in Paris just recently (Ian Hamel, 'La Suisse dispensée de liste noire', 20.11.2015)
Jean-Luc Martinez, président-directeur du Musée du Louvre à Paris, a reçu une mission préparatoire du président François Hollande: faire cinquante propositions pour mettre fin au pillage et au trafic d’antiquités dans le monde. Sachant en particulier que 15% à 20% des ressources de l’Etat islamique proviennent de trésors archéologiques. [...]  Avant-hier, une table ronde réunissant une dizaine d’experts était organisée sur ce thème à l’Hôtel Drouot de Paris, haut lieu des ventes d’objets d’art dans le monde.

'Understanding' the Syrian Conflict...


John Robbie, 'The ultimate explanation of the Syrian conflict... NOT!', 10 November 2015

 

ISIL from the Inside


Jürgen Todenhöfer
German writer Jürgen Todenhöfer spent some time inside the territory of ISIL, and wrote several thought-provoking articles on what he observed, summarised here. His conclusion:
I firmly believe that ISIS currently is the largest threat to world peace since the Cold War. We are now paying the price for George W. Bush’s act of near-unparalleled folly; the invasion of Iraq. To date, the West remains clueless as to how this threat is to be addressed.
He thinks bombing is not the answer.

Here is his website, and (a different version) in English.

UPDATE 27th November 2015
Some more words worth paying attention to: 
Jürgen Todenhöfer, 'I know Isis fighters. Western bombs falling on Raqqa will fill them with joy', The Guardian Friday 27 November 2015.

 

Nok-o Haram and "Ethnographic art"


Turn your back on conflict antiquities,
would you buy freshly-surfaced 

"art" like this?
The Association of Dealers and Collectors of Ancient and Ethnographic Art are busy directing attention to deliberate destruction of monuments by ISIL and away from the wider question of conflict antiquities but the issue will not go away. It also affects that so-called "ethnographic" (aka "tribal") art. A report which came out just a wile ago indicated that 'Boko Haram kills more people than ISIS as total hits historic high' (Russia TodayGlobal Terrorism IndexBoko Haram has waged a bloody six-year insurgency in the region of northern Nigeria. Te map below indicates where they are most active

Boko Haram in Nigeria

Tribal groups in the region include the Sao, Massa, Fulani, Hausa. Objects from these groups do not figure prominently on the "ethnic art" market, but the Nok/Jos objects coming from the central-south area of this zone do (see the trafficking culture entry for them).Who knows how this stuff is surfacing on the market now? I suspect the dealers who pedal the material would prefer not to be asked.




The Explosion of Terrorism


Global Terrorism Index



You-Ess-Eh! You-Ess-AY!


Dollars for bombs:
The US government has approved a request from Saudi Arabia to buy more than 19,000 bombs and smart bombs for its air force, the State Department said on Monday. Congress will have to green light the deal, but the $1.29 billion dollar sale is likely to go through, and will replenish Saudi stores used up in their war on Yemen
Where they are bombing towns full of civilians, hit museums and also destroyed who knows how many historical buildings. But who cares eh? They aren't ISIL, so the Americans are obviously quite happy to take their dollars. Come on America, why the two-facedness? Why not just openly send a sales rep to Assad and one to Raqqa too? Lottsa dollars there, probably.

Saudi Warplanes Target Yemen's Rare Historical Monuments

The order includes 5,200 Paveway II laser-guided bombs in their GBU-10 and GBU-12 variants, along with 1,100 of the more modern, longer range GBU-24 Paveway III.
There are 12,000 general purpose bombs weighing between 500 and 2,000 pounds and 1,500 devastating 2,000-pound "bunker busters," the BLU-109 penetrator.
These are designed to smash hardened concrete structures.
So they can blow real live people to smithereens even if they are taking shelter in bunkers.

The order includes 5,200 Paveway II laser-guided bombs in their GBU-10 and GBU-12 variants, along with 1,100 of the more modern, longer range GBU-24 Paveway III.
There are 12,000 general purpose bombs weighing between 500 and 2,000 pounds and 1,500 devastating 2,000-pound "bunker busters," the BLU-109 penetrator.
These are designed to smash hardened concrete structures.
- See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/us-approves-billion-dollar-sale-bombs-saudi-arabia-744641028#sthash.OGwm9t9I.dpuf

Lack of Transparency in the International Art and Antiquities Trade


"Our recommendations are therefore aimed 
at encouraging real progress with what appear
to be moribund aspects of the Government’s approach 
and tackling the apparent gaps in any strategy there may be".
(2003)
 

Rumoured to be a member of the Qatari Royal Family, the identity of the buyer of Sekhemka remains unknown, says Andy Brockman of 'The Pipeline':
In spite of the fact that the statue of Sekhemka was on public display in Northampton Museum for over one hundred years and was sold off in the most controversial of circumstances by the elected and publicly accountable Northampton Borough Council, the Department for Culture Media and Sport [DCMS] has ruled that there is no public interest in the public knowing who paid £15.76 million to buy the statue at Christie's in July 2014. A hammer price which was almost £10 million more than the auctioneers pre-sale estimate. The news comes as the result of a Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] request from the Northampton based Save Sekhemka Action Group [SSAG] who led the fight to keep the internationally important Old Kingdom statue on free display to the public and available to researchers. The rejection by the DCMS of any public interest in knowing the ultimate destination of what is an internationally important work of art and culture has once again highlighted the lack of regulation and transparency in the international art and antiquities trade. A situation which, critics in the archaeological and museum world argue, leaves the trade wide open to abuse by criminals wishing to monetise objects of dubious provenance or to launder dirty money.
Not that this would bother the British government which well over a decade ago (under Tony Blair) made assurances that it would be getting tough with the trade in illicit antiquities passing through the UK.... I do not think there s anyone out there that things it was even the slightest bit sincere when they said it (Palmer Report anyone?).

The Pipeline, 'No Public Interest in Public Knowing who Bought Sekhemka says DCMS' The Pipeline November 19th 2015.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

'Hollande proposes that Syrian antiquities be brought to France for safekeeping'


Ed Adamczyk, 'Hollande proposes that Syrian antiquities be brought to France for safekeeping', Nov. 17, 2015
French President Francois Hollande proposed a plan to offer "asylum" to Syrian artifacts and historical antiquities Tuesday. In an address to the 38th meeting of the UNESCO conference in Paris, Hollande said he would assemble a group of French archaeologists and local authorities to remove antiquities from Syria for safekeeping in France. His plan, he said, would protect artifacts from "fanatics who are attacking the living and the dead, all who have humanity today and tomorrow, and those of yesterday."
As Christopher Jones notes, neither France nor Syria are party to the 2nd Protocol to the Hague Convention on Cultural Property and Conflict "which is relevant since it's the 2nd Protocol that prohibits removing artifacts". In a thoughtful and challenging piece he examines the implications of two different concepts of war, the existing international conventions and suggests that protection of the cultural heritage is held back by our reliance on old paradigms designed within the context of an international system that is becoming less and less relevant in many parts of the world. He argues:
We need to consider new models for cultural heritage preservation that are not predicated on the continuation of the current Westphalian, United Nations-backed international system. We will need to consider unrecognized states, non-hierarchical power structures, open source insurgencies and systematic disruptions. Some of John Robb‘s work on networked resilient communities may be an interesting place to begin. (Incidentally this is a debate to which scholars of pre-modern societies may have the most to contribute). The Sykes-Picot imposed international system that has governed the Middle East since World War 1 is fading. Syria and Iraq will never again be the way they were, for twentieth century Arab nationalism is dead and gone. In the long term this sort of systematic instability may envelop the entire international system. Let us consider the future now, that we not be blindsided again.
Christopher Jones, 'The Endless War', Gates of Nineveh November 18, 2015.

What "Wasted Opportunity"? (1)


Over on the blog of "John Hooker FSA", we read a series of guest posts written by metal detectorist who calls himself "Dean Crawford — Living among the Dobunni" (sic). One of them allegedly concerns "a story of a wasted opportunity" and is supposed to be a critique on British archaeology. As one commentator suggests:
"Getting some archaeologists, or those who portray themselves as such, to think outside of the box is like trying to nail jelly to the ceiling. We are dealing with Luddites, of the kind who have relinquished with their bizarre views any hold over archaeology. These are spent people. Leave them in their academic squalor and move on! [....] Popular public involvement has arrived and they don't like it".
The post is intended to illustrate the point that archaeologists do not "think outside the box" as far as artefact hunting goes, and this is because they in some way resent public involvement. This seems a postulate worth examining more closely as it is typical of the chip-on-the-shoulder anti-establishment views held by many collectors and amateur antiquarians and those who portray themselves as such. Mr Crawford begins
"One of my colleagues has spent most of his life metal detecting the fields around Bidford on Avon, Warwickshire, meticulously recording all his finds. Hundreds of his Anglo Saxon finds have greatly enhanced what we know about the area at that time and a massive amount of numismatic information has been gleaned from his coin finds.
That is something that can easily be checked on the Portable Antiquities Scheme Database. The results for all Anglo-Saxon finds 410-1066 from the region around Bidford found by every single finder in the area, plus Mr "Living among the Dobunni's" unnamed mate hardly can be numbered in the dozens, let alone "hundreds".


I do not see what "great enhancement" of what we know about the area. The same dots on maps could be produced by plotting Anglo-Saxon place names at much lower cost. So that's the first lie published by the Canadian Antiquary Fellow in his campaign against British archaeology.

 
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