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Exactly 16 years ago a hurricane of looting was unleashed in the Iraq Museum, Baghdad and then roared all over the country to Iraq’s archaeological sites, the cradle of civilisation, destroying the memories of mankind in order to supply thousands of “respectable” middle class collectors in Europe and the USA, a process that is continuing today.

It can’t be stressed too often that it’s not just something that is happening far away. Today thousands of people of many nationalities will go out in the fields of Britain and most of them will take our memories for themselves, and not tell us, or to sell. It’s a reality that is constantly spun otherwise but is constantly true. So it’s to be hoped that the Rescue AGM, which is happening today, won’t resolve to change Rescue’s policy:

Rescue believes that unregulated hobby detecting and other fieldwork does not contribute sufficient value or information to our understanding of the past to justify the damage caused to the wider archaeological resource”.

Isn’t it true that metal detecting has to be seen as needlessly damaging unless it conforms to the standards and aims of Archaeology, not in just some but every respect?


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting


April 2019

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