Saturday, 11 March 2017

A Must-read About Heritage Pocketers

This is a must-read:
Hardy, S. A. (2017). Quantitative analysis of open-source data on metal detecting for cultural property: Estimation of the scale and intensity of metal detecting and the quantity of metal-detected cultural goods. Cogent Social Sciences, 3(1), 1298397.  Published:
I was privileged to see a draft of the text and was very excited by it. It seems that the questions that Nigel Swift and I started asking a decade ago about the numbers, despite the best efforts of the pro-collecting lobby to dismiss, ignore, avoid the issue are at last being seriously addressed in academia. Well, what (not) a surprise, what Nigel and I have been saying for about a decade and a half has been borne out by Dr Hardy's research:
the statistics suggest that more people engage in unethical but legal detecting under permissive regulation than engage in unethical and illegal detecting under restrictive or prohibitive regulation. So, even if illicit trade is technically reduced by the act of legalising it, cultural harm is increased [...] permissive regulation is ineffective in minimising harm to  heritage assets, whether in the form of licit misbehaviour or criminal damage. Restrictive and prohibitive regulation appear to be more effective, insofar as there is less overall loss of archaeological evidence.
Now, what is the international academic community and heritage professionals going to do about it? Wait another decade, maybe as more and more of the portable heritage is selfishly pocketed without record? Pat another few thousand artefact hunters on the back for showing a few items here and there?

Vignette: pocketers are causing huge heritage losses.

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