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Showing posts from July, 2018

Michael Lewis on Metal Detecting

Michael Lewis has been talking about metal-detecting as part of the V&A Culture in Crisis Programme. He has stressed the benefit about searching ploughsoil. But what about the findspot of the Lenborough Hoard?

Lewis moves to discuss why the metal-detecting community has not signed up to the revised Code of Practice.

He touches on the issue of possible "criminal" elements who are out to loot archaeological site, and give the "hobby" a tarnished reputation.

The interviewer, Laura Jones, asked about the loss of context as a result of metal-detecting. Lewis talks about finds from below the ploughsoil, and suggests that there needs to be immediate archaeological help. He mentions the Watlington Hoard and the wait needed before the excavation could take place.

Lewis discusses the Staffordshire Hoard (but see here) as one of his favourite finds.

It would have been interesting to hear Lewis talk about the so-called Crosby Garrett helmet and the accuracy of its reporte…

Debating the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Back in 2010 I was invited to write a forum piece, "The Portable Antiquities Scheme and the Treasure Act: Protecting the Archaeology of England and Wales?", for Papers from the Institute of Archaeology.

In the light of the discussion around Sam Hardy's analysis of open-source data on metal-detecting for cultural property, I thought that it would be interesting to see how the forum piece has been cited by using data from the publisher's website, Research Gate, and Google Scholar.

Excluding self-citations, articles are as follows:
Campbell, Peter B. (2013) The Illicit Antiquities Trade as a Transnational Criminal Network: Characterizing and Anticipating Trafficking of Cultural Heritage, International Journal of Cultural Property 20(02), pp. 113-153 DOI:, A. (2017) Floating culture: the unrecorded antiquities of England and Wales. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 23(9), pp. 785-799.Efrat, A. (2012) Getting Governm…

Alexander the Great from the Roman Forum

A marble head of Alexander the Great has been seized in New York (reported in "Judge Orders Return of Ancient Limestone Relief to Iran", New York Times 23 July 2018). It has been reported to have been purchased "in good faith" by the Safani Gallery in Manhattan. The head had passed through Sotheby's in December 2011 (lot 9) when its history was recorded as:

Hagop Kevorkian (1872-1962), New York, most likely acquired prior to World War II The Hagop Kevorkian Fund (Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, November 22nd, 1974, no. 317, illus.)  A.N. Oikonomides, Chicago
The head was recognised from archival photographs from the finds from excavations in the Roman Forum. The head appears to have been found in 1910. It was then placed in the archaeological store of Museo Forense. The head appears to have been removed from the museum by 1959.

See also "Request for Return: A marble head of Alexander the Great as Helios, the Sun God", ARCA 24 July 2018. 

Metal-detecting in context and open-source analysis

In 2017 Sam Hardy wrote 'Quantitative analysis of open-source data on metal detecting for cultural property: Estimation of the scale and intensity of metal detecting and the quantity of metal-detected cultural goods', Cogent Social Sciences, 3:1 (2017) [DOI: 10.1080/23311886.2017.1298397].

More recently there has been a response: Pieterjan Deckers, Andres Dobat, Natasha Ferguson, Stijn Heeren, Michael Lewis, and Suzie Thomas , 'The Complexities of Metal Detecting Policy and Practice: A Response to Samuel Hardy, ‘Quantitative Analysis of Open-Source Data on Metal Detecting for Cultural Property’ (Cogent Social Sciences 3, 2017)', Open Archaeology 4, 1 [Online]. Their unconvincing paper made an attempt to dismiss Hardy's careful research. 

Sam Hardy has now written an extended response, 'a response to a response on metal-detecting and open-source analysis', Conflict Archaeology (26 July 2018). Deckers et al. will need to revise their confrontational response.

Operazione Demetra

Earlier this month the Italian authorities issued a statement about Operazione Demetra with its focus on Sicily [press release, 4 July 2018; Carabinieri]. One of the key elements is that arrest warrants were served on individuals in London, Barcelona and Ehningen. They are listed as:
VERES William Thomas 64 anni, residente a Londra;  PALMA Andrea 36 anni, originario di Campobasso, residente a Barcellona; MONDELLO Rocco, 61 anni, originario di Gela, residente a Ehningen. Veres appears to be the same individual who handled the Steinhardt gold phiale when it passed through Switzerland ('Caveat emptor', The Economist 16 September 1999). He also appears to have sold ancient coins, largely minted in Turkey, to the British Museum. (A British individual with the initials W.T.V. was arrested in an antiquities related incident near Seville in August 2017.)

It appears that two auction houses in Munich are under investigation (John Phillips and Justin Huggler, 'Italian police smash £30…

Potential Kress-funded project on cultural property

Liz Marlowe is looking for professors who teach courses on issues of cultural property/heritage/looting/archaeological ethics/art market, etc., who are based at a U.S. college or university with a campus museum.

She is looking for participants in what she hopes will be a large, important, Kress-funded project.

If you are interested and/or would like more details, please contact her at