Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Portable Antiquities Scheme cited in Washington

It looks as if the UK's Portable Antiquities Scheme was frequently cited at last week's review of Article II of the MOU with Italy.

Peter Tompa, the spokesperson for the numismatic trade bodies the IAPN and the PNG, "advocated" that CPAC should ask Italy to "adopt" a PAS style scheme.

Wayne Sayles in the ACCG's letter of submission to CPAC wrote:
The argument that every object in or on the ground is part of an archaeological context may seem noble to some, but it is unrealistic. Literally millions of objects from the past are found every year. Must we record and control all of them? Of course not, and the British have recognized that rather obvious fact in their equitable Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme for the reporting of finds by the public.
What is unrealistic? The recording of "millions" of objects that are ripped from their archaeological contexts? Or is it "unrealistic" for the collecting lobby --- and remember that some speaking at the CPAC review were representing numismatic trade bodies --- to acknowledge or to accept that they contribute to the destruction of archaeological sites by their pursuit of objects?

The Scheme is elaborated by Sayles:
In 2007, the ACCG (through the kind assistance of Representative John Culberson of Texas) hosted a presentation at the U.S. Capitol by the British Museum’s head of the Department of Treasure and Portable Antiquities. Dr. Roger Bland addressed a diverse group that included two members of CPAC, representatives from the U.S. State Department, representatives from foreign embassies, the President of the Archaeological Institute of America and a host of other interested parties—including Mr. Culberson himself. Dr. Bland’s PowerPoint presentation, “Recording and Preserving the Past: Ten Years of the Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme in England and Wales”, is available online. In 2008, the ACCG and the Field Museum co-hosted Dr. Bland’s presentation “A British Approach to Antiquities and Buried Treasure” at the museum in Chicago. The well-documented benefits of this program in Britain could just as easily have been accrued by the people of Italy through the implementation of a similar program. The most notable benefit of the British system is that it encourages and rewards cooperation between amateurs and professionals.
I wonder if the staff of the Portable Antiquities Scheme share this view. Only this month Dr Pete Wilson of English Heritage has spoken about the destruction of archaeological contexts in England.

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1 comment:

Wayne G. Sayles said...

David;

Thank you for the extra publicity. It really does help us to reach across the aisle.

Regards,

Wayne

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