Friday, February 19, 2010

They are "only East Europeans"

Over on the UKDN metal detectorists' forum, one of the forum moderators who goes under the name of "Baldric" (the name of the character played by Time Team presenter Tony Robinson in the Blackadder series) writes about three You Tube videos made by some metal detector-using artefact hunters in Russia (here, here and here):

That is total destruction of any historical context, especially that last one, the wooden case was originally intact and these guys just ripped it apart. Just because they are East European/ Russian does not excuse this wanton damage. I cannot condone this sort publicity, it is the very worst of what we are ALL labelled as by the archaeological hiarachy, who think that we all act in this manner.

What this particular eastern (little 'e' please) European archaeologist thinks is that "just because they are East European" is an offensive statement. Many metal detector users in eastern Europe (where the hobby is the subject of legislation) are a good deal more ethical in their collecting practices and do less damage to the archaeological record than their UK counterparts. So what about the bloke that dug the Staffordshire hoard for several days and only called the archaeologists when his kitchen table was full of gold?

That does not mean of course that what we see in these Russian videos is any the more acceptable practice either of course.

For those who can see the thread (you have to register first with the tekkies) there is some really revealing censorship going on here. Keith from Northumberland first saw the videos and thought they were exciting and he decided (under the thread name "nice finds") to share this with his tekkie mates. He wrote: "foreign videos i no (sic) but its nice to watch them coming up like daffodil bulbs". One 'Jacobean Ken' had time to reply "Wish it was me" before "Baldric" remonstrated as above. Keith, obviously understood the gaffe he had made [and apparently was to such an extent upset about it that forgot how to use the present perfect tense], answered:

"sorry guys the subject title should of (sic) bean (sic) .... nice finds but poorly excavated. maybe one of the forum moderators can change it for me."

One of the Forum moderators did change it... to "nice finds VERY poorly recovered" adding, "I guess these will be doing the rounds in certain circles. The kind of PR the hobby does not need eh".
Eh. What however is the important point for us here is NOT so much that some Russian guys went out hoard-hunting with a metal detector and found some wire money, Alexander II copper coin hoards etc. but the blatant attempts by UK metal detectorists to cover up the self evident fact that not all of the members of their community by any means think and behave like the official propaganda would have the rest of the world believe.
Northumberland Keith did not post the videos as an example of bad practice - far from it, but by two in the afternoon of the day it was posted, the whole thread was renamed to make it look as if he had.