Monday, February 25, 2013

Does find recording stop looting?

Earlier this month I was discussing the differences between the situation in Italy and in England and Wales. A reader in Rome has emailed me to ask, if Italy adopted the same scheme as in England and Wales would it encourage more widespread looting of archaeological sites?

Let me take a well-known example from England: the Crosby Garrett Roman helmet. What do we know of the helmet's find-spot? Can we be certain of where it was found? Did the finder (or finders?) report his (or their?) discovery immediately? Why did the helmet not receive appropriate detailed conservation? Why is the present proprietor of the helmet undeclared? Why is this archaeologically and historically significant helmet not on public view? (The present anonymous owner did let it appear in Bronze at the Royal Academy.) Why has the present legislation failed to ensure that this part of England's heritage was saved for the nation?

These types of question were asked in a forum piece for the Papers of the Institute of Archaeology in 2010.

So would a Portable Antiquities type-Scheme be appropriate for Italy? I suspect not.

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3 comments:

rickwitschonke said...

I wonder how it is fair to evaluate the effectiveness of the Treasure system of England and Wales based on the handling of an object which is not even covered by the system?

When I asked Lord Renfrew if he thought that the adoption of the TA/PAS model in other "source countries" would reduce looting, he replied that he thought it would.

Rick Witschonke

David Gill said...

The present system did not protect the helmet. thank you for your comment.

Paul Barford said...

"... evaluate the effectiveness of the Treasure system of England and Wales..."

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is NOT "the Treasure System". They are two entirely different things. One records items in private hands, the other secures certain objects for public collections.

Having the Helmet summarily "recorded" (I use the term loosely), it may fairly be observed, has in fact produced remarkably little actual information about the object and its context of use and deposition.

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