Tuesday 18 August 2015

Greece: rise in looting during economic crisis

(stock image)
"The economic crisis has led many Greeks to antiquity looting and smuggling, with most of them being first-time offenders with no criminal record, says a National Geographic report." ("Antiquities Looting Increases in Crisis-Stricken Greece", Greek Reporter, 18 August 2015). And the shortage of cash has had a double impact. Budget cuts have left state agencies unable to deal with the situation. It is "estimated that in all of Greece there are only about 60 employees who work exclusively to prevent and disrupt looting".

Sunday 9 August 2015

Time for a thoughtful reduction in UK metal detecting?

It is clear that the controversial pastime of metal detecting in the UK, even in cases where finds have been officially reported, has occasionally placed so much strain on limited public funds that the treatment of archaeological sites was compromised and fell short of best standards. One such case, for instance, concerned competing claims on the public purse by events at Creslow and Lenborough in Buckinghamshire during October and December respectively last year.

In light of the recent shrinkage of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and other severe cutbacks in funding at both national and county level for the UK heritage sector at the present time, I wonder if British metal detectorists have accordingly scaled down the active pursuit of their hobby to allow scarce and already stretched resources to be focused on priorities such as dealing with genuine chance finds and discoveries or the urgent demands of emergencies and 'rescue archaeology', where sites are actually under immediate threat. There appears to be a strong case for thoughtful detectorists to curtail their digging in potential sites that are not under immediate threat and find other ways to amuse themselves in the meantime until funding to support their hobby in a reasonably responsible way has improved.

Many of those hobbyists proudly claim that the activity is primarily for the public good. Is this then a time for them to restrict their pastime willingly in response to the current situation or to simply carry on regardless?



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