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The Portable Antiquities Scheme is about to stage a conference asking “Can Detectorists be Archaeologists“.  If the PAS was honest it would be a very short conference for it would start and end with a simple statement:

Yes of course they can. However, searching at random, targeting only metal artefacts, doing it for personal pleasure or profit and, in the great majority of cases, not putting what you find on public record for the benefit of others, is damaging and in each instance the antithesis of archaeology. Proof lies in the fact that any archaeologist who acted like that would be sanctioned and expelled from the profession.

Clearly, PAS knows all that but shamefully it is attempting to morph the difference by saying: This conference explores the various ways in which detectorists (working alone or with archaeologists) have undertaken archaeological fieldwork“. Fine, but it’s expressing in a coded fashion a basic truth which they are frit to say in the public arena: “Yes OF COURSE detectorists can be archaeologists – but only if they act like archaeologists.”

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