I was alerted by my friend Butch that National Geographic had published a new article about detecting, and was pleased to find they had given both sides of the detecting conflict. Most articles in wide-spread publications omit the detecting story – or are so inaccurate to be ridiculous. This is probably the best I’ve seen in a while.
Good job, Butch.
I had this to say about it…
There are three underlying assumptions in this article.
First… the archaeology community has unlimited resources and will be studying every possible site “soon” so we better stay away *in case* they get to it. And this includes already-well-documented sites! When you do the math, this just doesn’t add up. Sure they should have the right to declare some sites off-limits, but hoarding around “someday-maybe” just rubs people the wrong way.
Second is an assumption that “historical context’ is a concept that the detecting community just can’t grasp. We need to just get our artifacts and bolt off to Ebay. I do not think that this is true for those of us with experience. We know the artifacts tell a story, and we want the story to be told. And we want to be PART of telling the story!
And lastly, the assumption that the detecting community cannot be trusted to document and report their finds into the data set so that professionals can consider them in a broader context. The resolution is lower – GPS coordinates are not as accurate as dig gridding, for sure. Think of it like digging test holes at a larger scale. I agree that this requires some sort of accreditation and permitting for accountability (just like hunting and fishing licenses.)