Friday, October 7, 2011

But Don't "Metal Detectorists" Rescue Objects From Destruction?

Recently the apologists for artefact hunting have begun claiming that they "rescue" objects in the ploughsoil from destruction by farm machinery and agricultural chemicals. A typical example is here. Discussing this in detail is beyond the scope of this blog, while there is no doubt that the ploughsoil is a hostile environment for archaeological artefacts, after having looked at the evidence for this very carefully (it is a whole chapter in the forthcomng book I wrote with Nigel Swift - Britain's Portable Antiquity Heritage) I do not accept that the phenomenon is as widespread or as severe in its effects as claimed by the supporters of artefact hunting in Britain.

There is a difference between corrosion and damage which makes a find "illegible" and that which merely makes it less collectable (the difference between corroded crud normal on archaeological artefacts from certain soils and what collectors consider a "patina").

Vignette: patina on a Chinese bronze

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