Saturday, August 18, 2012

August 18th 2012: Archaeological Asset Stripping in Cambridge

In two posts on another blog:
Detecting Under the Microscope: Eleven Rings from Avebury
Metal Detecting Under the Microscope: Vandalising Artefacts

I describe how I was alerted to an eBay seller of dug-up artefacts by a reader (who coincidentally also happens to be a pal from Heritage Action) who was doing some Internet trawling (or is that "trolling", eh, BM?). The name of this Cambridge-based internet dugup antiquity seller is "decorativehandpainted2010". The first post discusses eleven quite clearly metal detected objects all for sale by this individual, and all stated to be from Avebury.
The second post describes what this seller is doing to metal detected archaeological artefacts. Items such as this 'Stunning Medieval Bronze Ring Cleaned &  Polished'. "Stunning" is not a word I would use, but certainly "cleaned and polished" it is, so much so you can see the seller's reflection in it and it's not a pretty sight.  
Polished at my local jewellers with a jewellery polishing machine. Bright. Circa 15th century AD. Found in Eynsham,Oxfordshire. Lovely condition. Inner diameter 19mm. Ref 2003.
Funnily enough in the PAS notes for conservation of finds made by "members of the public", no mention is made of the use of a "jewellery polishing machine". I doubt whether there are many archaeological conservators trained in their use. If you look at this sellers current offering of 126 antiquities on sale, 79 are brought up be searching the description for the word "polished", and only 25 for the word patina (five of those refer to all traces of patina REMOVED). This seller has transformed the artefacts he is selling into glittering geegaws. Glittering wearable trophy geegaws for showing off  ("Oh that? Yes'it's quite unusual, isn't it? Medieval you know, isn't it just so cute?"). But that is not all this (Cambridge?) jeweller can do to ancient artefacts, oh no! Read the original post.

Once again, is Britain's Portable Antiquities Scheme going to take an interest in any of this and take a stand against this kind of treatment of archaeological material? Don't hold your breath.

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