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Portable antiquities, pragmatism and the ‘precious things’

Moshenska, G; (2010) Portable antiquities, pragmatism and the ‘precious things’. Papers from the Institute of Archaeology , 20 24 - 27. 10.5334/pia.336. Green open access

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Abstract

The metal detecting debate splutters on, its latest iteration framed rather unhelpfully in the context of a discussion of looting. Without wishing to belittle the importance of either of these issues, I would argue that a more constructive discussion should be grounded in less confrontational terms. In my opinion our task is not, as Gill suggests, ‘to bridge the gap between the archaeological community and those involved in metal detecting,’ but to mend the divide within the archaeological community between the minority of archaeologists who use metal detectors as a principal tool of fieldwork, and the majority who do not. It is a measure of this community’s widespread elitism and class snobbery that the most feckless professor of prehistory with a string of unpublished excavations is likely to be afforded a thousand times more respect than the most diligent member of a metal detecting club. I am delighted to see that David Gill has turned his attention to the thorny issues of treasure policy and portable antiquities in England and Wales. Few people can be as well informed of the broader international context and significance of these issues than this terror of the auction houses and scourge of weasel-like art curators. As I would hope and expect, his analysis of these issues is subtle and well informed, drawing on an impressive range of quantitative data. Nonetheless, there are a number of points in his discussion of metal detecting in Britain, and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in particular, that I disagree with or would like to examine in more depth.

Type: Article
Title: Portable antiquities, pragmatism and the ‘precious things’
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.5334/pia.336
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/pia.336
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1329021
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