Thursday, December 30, 2010

Publishers Beware! Candy has the Dirt, and is Happy to Sling it

[category: metal detectorist lobby nonsense]

Metal-detectorist-not-metal-detectorist Candice Jarman seems to have a fixation on my personalia. Again he returns to the subject of my qualifications and CV (here (as an aim), here, here and now here)
Academics are usually proud of their qualifications and achievements - but Mr Barford can't seem to provide any credentials for himself. Is he an archaeologist or just a wannabee? Several correspondents tell me that he actually supports himself as a translator! My stats show that several visitors come to my blog searching for 'Paul Barford CV'. Let's hope their number include a few potential book publishers - they clearly need better informing!
That would be nice for the detectorists, publishers refusing to handle anything written by "the Barford guy" because of something they read on Candice Jarman's spite-blog. Dream on Candice. I doubt that we will be seeing Candice Jarman's full CV on the Candice Jarman blog or any other proof this person really is who the blog's author claims.

As for who we both are and what we stand for, let the reader judge from the words we write. Let them in particular note the way "Candice" claims to speak now for metal detectorists
Well, Mr Barford's response shows just how little this self-proclaimed 'expert' (but in reality total ignoramus) knows about metal detecting
This is despite him originally claiming to be merely a collector of Bronze Age antiquities (that has now disappeared from his profile) who merely has "many metal detecting friends - all of whom report their finds to the PAS and only search with the landowners['] permission". Candice claims to be a rather attractive blonde secretary (who, the profile originally reported happens to be a lesbian, but that too has now been modified). The tone and style of the posts on the Candice Jarman blog however are identical (except for one characteristic which is interesting) with a series of posts on another blog a while back, called "Barfordisation" (although the blog has been 'deleted' traces of it can be found in Google cache). This was exactly the same mixture of spite, snipe, snideness, gossip, dirt-digging and sly innuendo. The author was clearly aiming to discredit the author who was questioning the practices of UK metal detectorists and the PAS. He also claimed to be "in the legal profession", and depicted himself as a man.

Then there was a "Steve Welton" who about the same time decided to create a Wikipedia page on "Paul Barford" containing the same mixture of spite, snipe, gossip, dirt-digging and sly innuendo masquerading as fact and obviously intended to discredit me. Lawyer Peter Tompa accepted it as fact. Interestingly, although that page appears not to be available in the Internet any more (?), Candice's attempts to reconstruct my "biography" contain the same errors. If Candice is basing his conclusions on an old downloaded copy of the discredited and deleted Wikipedia text, he should say so, for fear that we might connect him with the (fictitious) Steve Welton.

Candice is, I think we may be sure, a man. It seems to me a foregone conclusion that he is one of the ten thousand UK metal detectorists who do not like people writing about them. He aims to discredit me as well (?) as what I write. He is not however being honest with his readers, writing under an assumed identity, and making claims about artefact hunting and collecting ("we all ask four standard questions", "we do not seek productive sites" etc) which he knows are misleading bare-faced lies. Then there are the ACCG-clone arguments that it does not matter anyway. I write under my own name, present things as I see them and indicate why - with all the consequences that this entails. It is a shame that Candice cannot bring himself to do the same and engage in a proper discussion.

Gentle Reader, it does not take a university degree to be able to log on to a UK metal detecting forum and read what these people write behind the bland facade that their closed access forums maintain. Then you can easily make up your own mind how much there exposed on those forums is glib declaration of "responsibility" for show, and how much pure naked self-interest, greed and - yes - ignorance lies just below the surface. Just what is it that people like Candice are trying to defend by their aggression and glib denials? What are the parallels with the attitudes (and indeed methods) of the US coiney lobbyist? It does not take a degree either to look at this evidence and make up your own mind what actually has (and has not) been achieved by millions of pounds worth of "archaeological outreach" to these people. Make up your own mind how much has yet to be achieved, and whether voices like Candice's in denial show how likely it is that it ever will. Neither does it need any degree or qualifications/credentials to raise the question, identify issues, and suggest we should be discussing them openly.

That after all is the declared aim of Candice Jarman's "People's Archaeology Blog". Has she got a degree which provides the "credentials" to provide: "a forum for examining how archaeology is done in the world today"?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

WATCH OUT, Candice is Out to Get Ya!

.[category: metal detectorist lobby nonsense]

As Candice Jarman announces on his hate-blog:
Damien Huffer, aka Mr Barford Jnr, who also has an anti-collecting blog, which has run for three times as long as this one, has just 3 followers! Oh dear Damien - but maybe more on this gentleman later!
We see here the usual tekkie/collector technique of dealing with criticism, label it "anti-collecting" and attack the person of the author to the general applause of other oafish collectors who apparently see no alternative to such behaviour.

The Questions They Ask!

Some metal detecting bloke called P.A. Hewitt sent some comments to Candice Jarman's blog which the blog owner regards as "pertinent" (to what?) and "important", so Candice repeats them, in a post called: 'How about answering some questions Mr Barford!' (for somebody who claims to be a secretary in a legal firm, Mr Jarman's lack of a firm grasp on the punctuation of written English is puzzling). The fourth question is a renewed call for personal details, and querying the right of an observer to question or comment on what he sees happening. The other three questions are as follows:
1. Most finds by detectorists (and fieldwalkers) are made in soil disturbed by ploughing and are therefore NOT in archaeological context other than in very broad area. Indeed, many items found are probably isolated losses, dropped long ago, with no archaeological context anyway. So how are the finds 'decontextualised'?
Many finds made by artefact hunters are coming from them searching 'productive sites', the location of which they guard jealously (there would be no reason NOT to release findspot details of genuine isolated chance finds, searching the spot would find no others, yet detectorists guard ALL findspot information of all of their finds). The precise distribution of finds in ploughsoil is often the subject of archaeological study the bibliography of the works in English on the 'archaeology of the ploughsoil' which discusses this and which I put on the PAS Forum a while back seems not to have made much of an impact in the world of metal detecting. I hereby give the PAS permission to put this up as a standalone page or incorporated into a broader resource on the topic on their website. The finds are decontextualised by being taken from these complex patterns without the information on the distribution of other components of the pattern not fully documented because the finds are not "collectables" in the commercial sense. This is what makes the difference between what an artefact hunter does and the work of a true amateur archaeologist (some of the works in the above-cited bibliography were written for the latter).

2. How would Mr Barford propose to prevent the items within the ploughsoil from being further damaged by modern machinery and chemicals? I am told that coins found long ago were generally in much better condition than those found now, due to widespread use of fertiliser.
First of all, mere anecdote is not enough to "prove" that this effect is either general or significant. I question whether the evidence has been properly marshalled to achieve this - in the forthcoming book there is a whole chapter discussing the evidence for and against this based on published studies. It is concluded that this is a myth, but the reader will have to await the full presentation in the book. What I would "propose" doing in cases where a threat is recognised and there is no means (for example through the conservation-bases Stewardship Schemes) to prevent it, is to conduct the work in accordance with the procedure laid down in the English Heritage document "Our Portable Past". It is notable with regard these conservation schemes that there is discussion on metal detecting forums (for example the thread "No-Till farming methods") where these schemes themselves are presented as a threat to metal detecting. No ploughing means no artefacts brought to the surface from the erosion of buried archaeological sites! (let us recall too the recent discussions about the "depth advantage"). So it seems the "concerns" expressed about plough damage by metal detectorists is really just a front to allow them to continue hoiking stuff out of sites as they want.

3. When does Mr Barford propose that the archaeological fraternity will be able to bring into the national heritage the equivalent number of finds currently being recorded with the PAS (and the subsequent information it provides for research)?
Mr Barford proposes that getting decontextualised finds out of the ground is not the aim of (my part of) "the archaeological fraternity". It is not clear what Hewitt and Jarman understand by "research". Despite being 'recorded' in the PAS database, there are huge gaps for example in the documentation of the Crosby Garrett helmet which do not allow much detailed "research" to take place on it. The majority of the 800 or so "Treasure" finds dug up annually by Treasure hunters and now "brought into the national heritage", where are the full publications of the results of that "research", all the coin hoards with full inventories and die link details? The truth is that such research is NOT going on, except perhaps for individual select cases. Neither is there anywhere for it to be published in any detail. "Numbers" of course is not really the most important quality where data are concerned, reliability is a more important characteristic. How "reliable" are the data reported to the PAS by artefact hunters when we know that this can considerably increase their saleability?
It's hard to escape the opinion that Mr Barford would prefer artefacts to lie in the ground and never to be found! Further, where would the funding come from for archaeologists to excavate all these objects, write them up and conserve them etc?
Where is the money coming from NOW to get the finds found in uncontrolled digging by artefact hunters to be written up and conserved (how many metal detected finds from Britain in private hands are ever submitted to a trained conservator to stabilise, and under what conditions are they curated?). The whole point of conservation of a finite and fragile resource is exactly that, refrain from exploiting it away for short-term gain in favour of sustainable management and preventive conservation. According to the principle “Primum non nocere” yes, we would like the archaeological heritage left where it is when it is otherwise unthreatened, for future generations to deal with as they see fit, and not leave them an archaeological full of holes and wheelbarrow-loads of by-then totally decontextualised artefacts in the antiquities market.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Candice's First Conquest...

One "Dusty" on the Rally.UK forum has noticed there is a blog by Candice Jarman about Paul Barford and decides to draw other artefact hunters' attention to it with all the high-school eloquence he can muster:
this Candy person really don't like this Barford and after reading some of barford papers I can see why hes a compulsive weirdo and liar he makes thing up as he gos along - good luck Candy you need it with that pratt.
"Dusty" can apparently read, while "Swarfy" is quite taken with the photograph:
Candy certainly dont like im does she! mind you I would report everything to her if she was Essex based wouldnt you !!
Mr Swarfy is so excited that Candice might be an FLO that he forgot his punctuation. "Rod1" (who "does it for the buzzzz") agrees in a thoughtful contribution exhibiting equal command of the English language:
get her out every day if pos that what i call happy hunting makes detecting and finds a lot beter to show her what you have? good find dusty didnt see that paul barford will have a look again when candys not on there he he ha ha!
Now, really folks I am by no means "making up these quotes as I go along"; there really are such people out there and they have metal detectors and artefact collections and current British policies mean that the fate of a large part of the archaeological heritage is in their hands.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Candy Just Does not Get It, Does He?

It seems that the person posing as "Candice Jarman" is not terribly clued up on who he is attempting to gather information on for his next attack. In reply to my last post about his attempts to get Yahoo discussion list members to provide information in order to attack blog-owner Damien Huffer, he writes:
to reiterate: it is perfectly legal to metal detect with permission on private land in the UK, it is perfectly legal to collect provenanced and unprovenanced antiquities that legally left their countries of origin before 1970. Period! It is illegal to metal detect on private land without permission and on scheduled ancient monuments and to loot archaeological sites. For those that do there are legal penalties. Period!
Golly, and Damien Huffer's blog is about metal detecting in the UK is it? Is that why He (Candy) is apparently intending to go after him now? Shurely Shome Confushion here?

Well, we all know what is "perfectly legal" ("no US law was broken" eh?), what the questions which collectors should be addressing concern are the limits of ethical collecting in the international antiquities market. "It's legal innit?" is the stock in trade of the detectorist and bent dealer alike. Oddly enough, as anybody except Mr Candice can see, in my main blog UK "metal detecting" are seen in the wider context of artefact hunting and collecting as a whole. I really do not see any reason why the phenomenon cannot be examined in that wider context.

Mr Candice has a pretty inventive imagination, he does not believe there is any such thing as a no-questions asked market in antiquities, reckoning that collectors of, for example, Bronze Age dugups always ask questions concerning legal title and provenance. Obviously this Candice does not buy antiquities through the big well-respected London auction houses where the answers to such questions are simply not proffered, not to mention other dealers - Timelines for example. Candy obviously has never come across US coin collectors who - to judge by the way these items are routinely ("traditionally") offered for sale without any such information - could not care a hoot where stuff comes from, including buying apparently unreported finds from UK metal detectorists and collectors. Oh, it's legal all right - so Candy sees no problem no doubt.

However, the fact that British artefact hunters and collectors do not perceive the existence of a problem does not mean it does not exist, merely reflects their refusal to see the wider context of what they do. Candice Jarman's blog illustrates the degree to which they resent it when others point this out. Instead of however arguing the case in a reasoned manner we see the same tendency for personal attacks as is exhibited in other parts of the no-questions-asked antiquity collecting world.

Vignette: Bronze Age antiquities.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Important Things Responsible Collectors Talk About

From an Ancient Artifacts Collecting forum near you, Candice Jarman is on his witch hunt again:
Hi Folks, Anyone have any info on Damien Huffer? You know the sort of stuff I am after - you can contact me offlist for discretion and privacy. Thank you! Take care, Candy
Damien Huffer has a fine blog devoted to questions about the ethics of collecting of antiquities from Southeast Asia, not exactly the sort of thing you'd expect a British metal detectorist to consider a threat, but it seems Candice Jarman's after all the dirt on him all the same. And Mr Haines is apparently perfectly willing to let his "responsible" forum be used to gather dirt to fuel personal attacks.

So when are collectors going to stop all these personal attacks on their critics and get on with engaging with their arguments? Or is making up stories about the "Other" about the limit of their abilities? "Metal detectorists", what more can one say?

Photo: Damian Huffer at the 2009 TAG Conference.

Mayhem and Disruption Among Yahoo's "Responsible Collectors"

Tim Haines, who runs Yahoo's AncientArtifacts forum for them says he appreciates my contributions, but is scared what would happen if they (he) allowed me back...
Altogether I'm not too worried about a bit of low level Barford. I would not wish to censor the group so that his views do not appear in it at all: as members well know I am a strong believer in free speech. Paul Barford did in fact provide a very valuable contribution to this group and raised awareness of the ethics of antiquities collecting enormously here.
Having said that, the huge disruption which was caused by his presence here outweighed the value of his contribution to such an extent that his continued membership of the group was simply not a viable option, and he will certainly not be reinstated.
Well, it is not wholly clear from this, is it, whether he is saying that I disrupted his group by criticising no-questions-asked collecting, or whether he was unable to control his "responsible collector" members and prevent THEM from disrupting the forum when I did. Anyone who cares to log on and look through the archives will, I trust easily discover that it is actually the latter. As he admitted to me, he had had enough of "the bickering and bitching of others caused by your posts and your presence". The root of a lot of the problems with the Ancient Artifacts discussion list is poor list leadership on Haines' part. Anyone who cares to log on and look through the archives will find this a frequently expressed opinion among members whenever one of the frequent unpleasant arguments breaks out on various topics (often with nationalist overtones in this international group) - and yet Haines hangs on.

Obviously for Mr Haines, it is easier to get rid of the topic of how precisely to practice the glibly-claimed "responsible collecting" than to manage a frank and open discussion about the topic when in fact the vast bulk of his members have little or no interest in how responsible is responsible. However and whatever they collect, they all nevertheless consider themselves as "responsible" because they belong to a "responsible collectors' discussion list". That is despite the fact that responsible collecting is not really discussed there in any detail, but they "have" got a Code of Ethics (compare it with this). Big deal if it means nothing.

There is a clear parallel with UK metal detectorists who were all "responsible" until PAS produced a Code agreed with a number of other organizations defining that term. Then they found it necessary to write an alternative code so they could all fit in the alternative definition... Yahoo's artefact collectors evidently prefer just to shut their ears to any kind of questioning what exactly is meant by "responsible collecting" and cannot cope with their glib assertions being questioned. They start "bickering and bitching" amongst themselves.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Note to Comment Posters

Due to the nature of this particular blog, I reserve the right to reject comments which do not adhere to the guidelines outlined below:
Main reasons for rejections are, but not restricted to:
1) you seem to be a spambot advertising something, or
2) you are offering your own artefacts for sale (100% rejection rate), or
3) your comment is totally unrelated to the post it is supposedly commenting on and deflects discussion away from the topic;
4) While robust debate is acceptable, use of an overly aggressive tone and foul language intended to offend is not;
5) You are simply writing how much you hate me and my blog, and that I am an arrogant, evil extremist - and what you'd do if you met me in the street. This adds nothing to any discussion;
6) You are clearly a sock puppet (anonymous profile, hidden details for example) or impersonating somebody else, simply out to make trouble and waste time;
7) You are using the blog as a means to contact me with information or with questions, or asking me to remove something, and specifically ask me NOT to publish the comment (which I always honour);
8) Your comment deliberately or unintentionally gives away information which I suspect, or know from other sources, is sensitive (e.g., relates to something under investigation for potential criminal activity).

I prefer to know who I am talking to, if you have something to say that you think fit and proper to air in public, I do not see why you cannot do it under your own name. I write under my real name and frankly I do not see any reason, if they don't fall in the categories above, why others cannot do myself and my readers the same courtesy. If its worth saying, and you have nothing to hide, you can sign it with your real name.

Although my own posts here and replies to comments may on occasion be somewhat brusque or rough, I'd like to ask other commentators not to use the comments section of my blog to attack another guest here. I will not post what I see as personal attacks by third parties on other commentators. I have developed quite firm views on that due to my own experiences as a commentator on other people's blogs. Disagree with what was said by a commentator by all means, but ad hominem remarks addressed to a third party (or me) will most likely get your post rejected, take them elsewhere.

When comments come to me the return address is "no reply", so I cannot contact posters to tell them that I'd post their remarks if they'd consider changing the bit where (for example) they remove an email address or some other detail from an otherwise acceptable contribution to the discussion. All I can do in situations like this is reject the whole comment. I am prevented by the Blogger software from myself editing even a single word in a comment sent here, neither by somebody else, nor - annoyingly when there's a spelling mistake right in the middle - myself. The order in which comments appear under the post is the order when they are initially sent and not the order in which they were approved by the blog owner.

There is a word-limit to the comments section on these blogs. If you want to send a long reply (explaining something for example), it is best written in a separate document (Word for example) and copied and pasted into the comments box. That way if the system rejects it, you have a copy of the hard work writing a polite coherent argument and can try to repost it, split into several smaller chunks. But try posting it all in one go first.

If I am home, comments usually go up within an hour or so of sending. If however I feel the urge to write an answer (and, be warned, I often do), the comment does not get posted ('accepted') until the answer is ready. This is because if another reader comments on your comment while I am still writing, because of the way Blogger organizes them, their reply would then separate the original from my response to it and it gets complicated.

Finally I should say that this blog is all about freedom of expression, I have my opinions on a number of things dealt with here and since I live in a country where free speech is allowed, I therefore say what I think. Sometimes I make generalisations, sometimes I use specific cases to illustrate a point. In the latter situation it is only fair that the person or group mentioned ALWAYS have the right to answer and contest what I said - though I'd prefer them to do it in accordance with the 'house rules' set out above.

Thanks for visiting my blog, I look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Tale of Brave Sir Dave


It seems to me that there is basically something rather cowardly in Dave Welsh's actions posting his attack on the Ancient Artefacts discussion list with 2500 members and moneta-l with another few thousand from which I am excluded from answering. It seems to me that there is something very cowardly in Tim Haines' moderation of what he fondly imagines to be a forum about "responsible collecting", allowing such attacks on a non-member without allowing the victim the right of reply. Moneta-L long ago gave up the pretence of being interested in any open discussion of the issues.

Brave, Brave Sir Dave. Hiding behind his mates and discussion group exclusive moderation. You would not like to say the same to my face here or on my other blog would you? Thought not.

You Tube Clip from Monty Python's "Ye Pretencie of Responsible Coin Collecting for ye Weake of Response".

Anti-Barford Again

I feel discriminated against. At least when the Americans wanted to do a smear campaign against the elusive figurehead of Wikileaks, it appears he got a couple of free screws with two ugly slutty sex-on-first-date girls (one a "Christian") out of it. All I get is a decidedly unsexy balding obese coin dealing Jesuit-trained engineer from California attempting to misrepresent my professional biography in a post called " [Unidroit-L] Anti-Barford Blog [was RE: [Moneta-L] Arrests of 40 Spanish Coin & Antiquity dealers]" which has been cross-posted to an interesting selection of people: Tim Haines' Yahoo Ancientartifacts group, 'Moneta-L' (of course), Yahoo's CoinForgeryDiscussionList (eh?), dug-up scrap metal coin collector Scott Uhrick, and antiquity dealer 'Edgar Owen' . The text is extraordinary:
From what is reported in this blog, it seems that Mr. Barford left university with a “bac” after being enrolled in a graduate program that would normally lead to a doctorate. He has never publicly explained how that happened, nor has he published a CV detailing his education and subsequent contributions to archaeology.

Mr. Barford next was employed (rather briefly) in junior positions in archaeology in the UK before relocating to Poland in 1987, where he apparently has lived ever since. He was employed there in a junior academic position (assistant lecturer) and as an inspector of monuments. So far as I know, the above is all that is publicly recorded regarding his work as an archaeologist. If anyone can add to this, or correct any errors, I would be grateful for the information. Mr. Barford has a number of professional publications to his credit, including one book [The Early Slavs] with another in the process of publication.

To the best of my knowledge he is not presently employed in any sort of archaeological work, nor has he been so employed for a long time, although he did make a trip to Egypt not long ago where he had a chance to do some field work (it wasn’t clear whether this was as a volunteer). I have heard that he presently supports himself as a translator.

If the above is a fair appraisal of Mr. Barford’s actual professional credentials, one might question whether such a foundation is really in proportion to the critical edifice he has built upon it. Mr. Barford has been very free with criticism directed at those whom he sneeringly terms “coineys,” especially “coineys” who are also dealers.

In none of his remarks has he said anything about the professional qualifications of those whom he so freely criticizes. I think it’s fair to observe that many of his “targets” have resumes far more impressive than his own, and that Mr. Barford appears to know (or care) very little about numismatics
Not a sex scandal in sight. Damn! I am not sure what a "bac" is, but I don't think I've got one - but if somebody explains maybe I have without knowing it...

Is it my imagination or has Mr Welsh 'accidentally' forgotten a couple of degrees that Candy mentioned, and it seems he's got the sequence of "events" wrong. Supposedly I was "employed (rather briefly) in junior positions in archaeology in the UK". He also does not know when I "relocated". Neither is the position of "Inspector of monuments" in the Ministry of Culture a particularly "junior" position. Mr. Welsh claims to know my current archaeological employment history. Sadly he obviously knows less about all this than he thinks.

It seems to me that the internet-scholars of the Candy-Tompa-Welsh ilk are not particularly adept at using the resources available, Google Scholar gives more than just a handful of items published by me and from what I can see, that's about one third of what it says on my CV (which does not list translations).

Frankly I do not think explaining how whatever-it-is "happened" or publishing a full CV is one of the qualifications for being a blogger (even an "archaeoblogger").
So far as I know, the above is all that is publicly recorded regarding his work as an archaeologist. If anyone can add to this, or correct any errors,
I would be grateful for the information.
You know, archaeology is a pretty small world, I think various people all over the place have come across me, worked with me, quarrelled with me about methodology in a conference beer bar, or got really angered off by things I write and say - not just about metal detectorists etc. (Got a long screed out of the blue this morning about a chapter in a multi-authored publication, which is odd because its still in press). Whether or not these people really want to make contact with dirt-digging coiney people like Mr Welsh of course is a different matter. What's in it for them?
If the above is a fair appraisal of Mr. Barford’s actual professional
credentials, one might question whether such a foundation is really in
proportion to the critical edifice he has built upon it.
One might I suppose. If it were a FAIR appraisal and one was interested in personal issues.

Frankly I think the words of the coin dealers speak for themselves about what lies behind them, and I imagine mine do too. Mr Welsh's various writings about how ancient coins are found have as much weight whether or not we have ever seen a recent full length photo of him cuddling his rabbits on the internet, or a date-marked photo of him as a young man getting his engineering degree certificate from the Jesuit University of wherever-it-was. What he says about sites and hoards and all the rest is just as much nonsense for the reasons I have set out on my main blog, points he has never actually answered. No amount of look-at-me self advertising will change that.

I do not think I build any "edifice" on any imagined "personal authority" (neither does Wikileaks, whether or not Julian Assange is in jail or not does not change the contents of the leaked documents themselves one iota). I base my comments on the antiquities market on observing and interpreting what is going on, and invite every one of my readers to do the same. You do not need an archaeology degree to see that what is happening out there is highly questionable.

I'd say lets start asking the questions of the no-questions-asked collectors and dealers and ignore the slings and arrows and false arguments they spew out to stop those questions being asked. Let us see them actually address the issues raised instead of saying that this or that member of Joe Public is not qualified to be asking these questions. These are clearly questions that ALL the stakeholders in the past should be asking.