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Full Version: The danger of \'Private\' collections
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Quote:</em></strong><hr>Most of these privately found helmets would likely have never been found through proper archaeological excavation, and I therefore believe that it is better that they are brought to light, even under these less-than-perfect circumstances, than to never be discovered at all, eventually rusting away to nothing.<hr><br>
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Dan,<br>
I find this comment very worrying. You make it sound as if these 'relic-hunters' are doing us a favour! They most certainly do not! Apart from a small community of people who search designated sites such as building spots where the earth is disturbed, by far the most of the artefact illegally dug up in Germany are 'found' by people seeking profit only. They systematically search the woods (especially now in eastern Europe) in teams with professional equipment, destroying each site to rip out the valuable pieces.<br>
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"Less-than-perfect circumstances", indeed! You obviously have no idea of the damage that is currently being done to the archaeological record in Germany these days, and which is going on at such a large scale that the authorities are unable to stop it from happening.<br>
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Quote:</em></strong><hr>In fact, using the Gutmann collection as just one example, artifacts in private collections are sometimes published more quickly and exhibited to the public much quicker than many similar objects languishing for years in the storage areas of 'public', museums staffed by professsional archaeologists. Remember too, that some of the most important museums housing Roman military artifacts, such as the Kam at Nijmegen, was originally a private collection.<hr><br>
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The Gutmann and Kam collections were indeed private, but it is very unfair to use them as an example here, because both were collected during times when there a) was no proper archaeological sciense and b) there were no laws against selling archaeological items privately.<br>
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Quote:</em></strong><hr>We will never fully curtail this illicit searching. By outlawing it, you only insure that the objects will never be studied scientifically. <hr><br>
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By accepting illegal searching you will absolutely ensure that all of these objects will never bring the knowledge they would have if reported when found.<br>
Sure, archaeologists in any country don't have the funds to search all and everything, and indeed rarther leave sites alone if they don't have to. After all, archaeology is destroying, and the archaeologist knows that the future will bring better techniques.<br>
But illegal robbers don't care for that. This is not a case of 'salvaging' or 'rescuing' items, this is only for the money.<br>
And even if not, no-one should be blinded by a piece of metal (jewellry or a helmet) and completely ignore the circumstances of that piece in the ground. We have done that in the past all too often, lokking only for the gold and ignoring the wood and textile, to our everlasting regret today.<br>
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Quote:</em></strong><hr>Fantastic finds are brought to light all the time by private detecting enthusiasts in Britain, who report their finds to the authorities since they know they will be fairly paid if the museum wants the object. In the less-enlightened countries of continental, "Old Europe", important finds are secretly sold away on the black market, for the finder knows if he reports it, the object will be taken from him without payment, and he himself likely fined. <hr><br>
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The Portable Finds Scheme in Britain is a good one, but it does not prevent much illegal digging, because in Britain as well as on the continent, organised crime has found this 'relic-hunting' to be very profitable. Whole fields are dug up with heavy machinery in one night to find some gold pieces, detroying all.<br>
But hey, these pieces would otherwise have been lost to us, right? <br>
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You make it sound as if anyone reporting a find is fined! That is certainly not the case. Anyone reporting a chance find does not get fined - only those who have been illegally searching are fined! And why should they keep it? Does such a piece not belong to the whole community? But no, it should be sold on to the rich, so that the 'peasant' can earn a meagre living?<br>
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Quote:</em></strong><hr>This is the greatest tragedy, and largely preventable if the professionals did not have such a haughty attitude, much like the nobility of "old Europe" forbidding the mere peasants from hunting on their royal estates. It is good that there are buyers for these rusty military objects, for the private searchers will never stop looking for coins and jewelry of precious metals. At least now, with collectors, they may also sell their bits of military equipment that they otherwise would leave behind or later throw away. <hr><br>
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If find this what you say very incomprehensible. You are saying that illegal digging is good? Why should an ancient object languish in a private collection, where it belongs to some rich person? Now that is the old feudalistic idea returned - if you have money, you shall have the good stuff! Some 'peasant' will receive a price (mostly far below the value - it is, after all, illegally found) but the 'nobility' who can afford it will either sell it on or display it to their 'nobility' friends. OK, sure, now that is the right way!<br>
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The professionals do not have a 'haughty' attitude, they are dead scared of those ripping out the gold and destroying the rest in the process. But what if everyone was allowed to dig everywhere they wanted? The archaeological record would be destroyed in a matter of a few years, with all the modern equipment available today. A few tidbits would come to light, sure, maybe even your 'alternative' Varus battlefield, but all soil marks and perished traces of everything our ancestors, would be gone. Our children and their children would be left with nothing.<br>
It is true that private searchers will never stop looking for coins and jewelry of precious metals, but we must do our best to stop most of them destroying our past in the process, and preventing them from throwing away any oblect at all!<br>
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I agree absolutely that legal finders should receive a reward, if they did not break any law. I'm against private collections though, for these will always create the markets for illegal digging.<br>
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Valete,<br>
Valerius/Robert <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub45.ezboard.com/bromanarmytalk.showUserPublicProfile?gid=vortigernstudies>Vortigern Studies</A> at: 3/28/04 10:43 am<br></i>
Hi Robert,<br>
I absolutely agree with you. I've had a great controversy with a friend of mine, who also tries to dig out archaeological relics, although not for money. He thinks, he is doing good thinkg, arguing that most of these relics would not have been found by todays archaeologists, because of lack of money or interest to do some research at those sites. He didn't want to understand, that by his digging he damages or destroys the sites. If somewhere in the future a professional archaeologist will do some research in that area, he will not be able to put the finds into context, because the site will be damaged or completely destroyed by amateurs. The same is for the finds my friend (or any other amateur) can dig out. OK we have some fittings and buckles here or perhaps even a helmet, but we will never know when and why these items have been buried there, because of the amateurish digging, which destroyed the site. I'm not saying every amateur must always destroy everything around for some golden coins, but often it is so.<br>
It is very dangerous to accept such "archaeology".<br>
Greetings<br>
Alexandr<br>
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<p></p><i></i>
Robert, Alexandr,<br>
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I did not say illegal hunting was good. I said it was an inevitability that people will always be drawn to 'finding buried treasure' no matter the fines and punishments.<br>
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Once we accept this inevitability, I then said the more enlightened British are at least making the best out of a "bad" situation by exerting some "control" over their private diggers by their more generous and sensible attitude such as compensation for fines, and working together with archaeologists. As a result, far more finds are brought to museums than in continental "old" Europe, where showing the finds to the authorities would lead to no compensation, fines, and confiscation of the objects.<br>
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And yes, it is a good thing now that the diggers (who would still be searching for coins anyway), now at least, do not throw away the bits of military equipment, but sell them instead, and some of these are studied and published.<br>
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And Robert, while the Kam collection is indeed an old one, the Gutmann collection was built in the last 20 years. It is a shame no government was willing to buy the collection intact, so now the pieces will be dispersed throughout the world.<br>
So also yes, the late collector Gutmann has increased our knowledge of Roman (and ancient military equpment in general), by his activities, including an impressive array of scientific publications. There are many others who have helped these studies as well. Many of the new sites of the Augustan campaign in North Germany (including Kalkriese), were brought to light by the effort of private detectorists.<br>
They are an inevetibility. Whether the scientists harness their efforts for the good, or make them their enemies, and disdain cooperating with them, is their decision, but they will ultimately 'lose' by choosing the latter.<br>
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Dan<br>
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Quote:</em></strong><hr>I then said the more enlightened British are at least making the best out of a "bad" situation by exerting some "control" over their private diggers by their more generous and sensible attitude such as compensation for fines, and working together with archaeologists. As a result, far more finds are brought to museums than in continental "old" Europe, where showing the finds to the authorities would lead to no compensation, fines, and confiscation of the objects.<hr><br>
Hi Dan,<br>
Do you actually know the difference between continetal 'old' Europe and Britain in this area? There are so many different laws, I would not make such a comparison lightly. Again, I don't know any country in continental "old" Europe that would fine you when you would bring in an artefact. You would be asked to hand it over, but that would also be the same in britain, if the object is deemed 'treasure'. British law does not automatically let you keep it.<br>
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Quote:</em></strong><hr>And yes, it is a good thing now that the diggers (who would still be searching for coins anyway), now at least, do not throw away the bits of military equipment, but sell them instead, and some of these are studied and published.<hr><br>
You seem to miss my point. far less people would be digiging for coins if there was no market, and far more would be it it were allowed to do it anyway. And while you are rooting for that peace of helmet, these 'inevitable diggers' will have destroyed the context of that piece of metal, and make it virtually useless.<br>
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Quote:</em></strong><hr>And Robert, while the Kam collection is indeed an old one, the Gutmann collection was built in the last 20 years. It is a shame no government was willing to buy the collection intact, so now the pieces will be dispersed throughout the world.<hr><br>
I stand corrected on the origins of the Gutmann collection.<br>
But while it is to be deplored that it will be boken up, this collection, if excavated by the proper people after being alerted by the chance finders, would have been in a national museum, for all the world to see and study.<br>
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Quote:</em></strong><hr>So also yes, the late collector Gutmann has increased our knowledge of Roman (and ancient military equpment in general), by his activities, including an impressive array of scientific publications. There are many others who have helped these studies as well. <hr><br>
While I could not possibly say anything about Gumann who I don't know, I will say that he and others like him were not the proper people to do those studies. they created (helped create) a market by their willingness to pay lots of money to get these items for themselves. Writing papers afterwards does not redeem them of supporting criminal activities. best go to your local police department and ask them about the relationship between healing and theft. You may admire these people, I do not.<br>
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Quote:</em></strong><hr>Whether the scientists harness their efforts for the good, or make them their enemies, and disdain cooperating with them, is their decision, but they will ultimately 'lose' by choosing the latter.<hr><br>
It is not a question of the scientists being the bad people, it is the criminals who dig illegally. They are enticed by 'dealers' and 'private collectors', who then hide the pieces in their homes. Apparently, these 'private collections' are still legal. Very nice. Should archaeologists be cooperating with those who are in fact helping the robbers? Would you cooperate with kidnappers? I think it should be the other way around, and 'private collectors' should hand over their 'spoils' to the rightful owners, the people.<br>
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Valete,<br>
Valerius/Robert <p></p><i></i>
Robert,<br>
Short of shooting them on the spot, you will not stop the private searchers. Regarding them as criminals and enemies, however justified, will only mean the total loss of their finds from science and the general public, save for exceptions like Gutmann. Sometimes you must "deal with the devil" for the greater good. Of course, some archaeologist will disregard any find not made by their "own kind", and therefore share some guilt too, in depriving the public/science of information.<br>
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Dan <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

Although I agree with some of BOTH of your posts to some extent I do have a thought.<br>
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It sounds a lot like arguing/wondering why people still pick up prostitutes even when it is illegal.(in Canada) What came first?The person wanting the prostitute or the prostitute offering her services?<br>
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Parallels can be seen with the artifact argument. Is it the people digging & offering their finds to sell that is the problem or is it that people want to buy artifacts which makes relic hunters go find them?<br>
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If someone offered to sell you an artifact, would you refuse knowing that it might end up in some closet never to be studied? Or would you purchase it get it published and at least make something good from a bad situation......<br>
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food for though<br>
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Markus <p></p><i></i>
Hi Markus, Dan,<br>
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Yes, I agree this is a difficult situation. I have seen artefact from private collections which I would immediately agree I would have seen otherwise. Indeed dan, that has increased our knowledge of several items.<br>
But turn it around, and think of the objects we will never see, or not until the owner dies or something, because they are owned privately, and adorn some grand villa somewhere. Sure, this may not be true (or less) of Roman artefacts when compared to, say pre-Columbian art, or Meso-American art. Or, for that matter, the objetcs stolen from Iraq, and rapidly sold on because there apparently were 'wish-lists' already circulating long before Baghdad had fallen.<br>
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Markus, Dan, while I agree with your comparisons, I'm sure you would see it in a slightly different light when I would compare the argument to international terrorism:<br>
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"Short of shooting them on the spot, you will not stop the ..... Regarding them as criminals and enemies, however justified, will only mean .... Sometimes you must "deal with the devil" for the greater good."<br>
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I'm sure we all agree that some facts of life will always be with us, and greed-induced crime is one of them. But I'm sure we all agree that to stop with law enforcement and agrre to 'work together' because it will always be there, is not the answer.<br>
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We should induce the illegal relic-hunters to work with us, not the other way around.<br>
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Valete,<br>
Valerius/Robert <p></p><i></i>
Quote:</em></strong><hr>Of course, some archaeologist will disregard any find not made by their "own kind", and therefore share some guilt too, in depriving the public/science of information.<hr><br>
C'mon Dan,<br>
Of course you know that no archaeologist will disregard finds not made by 'their own kind'. Yeah, let's poor oil onto the fire.<br>
Dan, atrchaeologists, as much as some would like to lump 'em all together, are by no means one of a kind. Some may snub illegal finds, but I have read enough articles which do indeed include such finds, and they are not the exception.<br>
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But what no archaeologist can do is support any conclusion based on such finds, because this information was lost forever when the amateur or robber pulled the object from the earth. I have read a few 'publications' where private owner are discussing finds, and most are simply bad or made full of wishful thinking. The sad part is, that is all it can be. If people like Gutmann can build such collections and discuss them with a degree of authority, then why do <em>they</em> not work with the experts, hand over their collections to a museum, and make the items available to all? But no, their was a big sum of money involved, which no museum could pay. Besides, would this not have meant 'paying for stolen goods'? maybe the collection was offered and refused for this reason? If so, too bad, and indeed a case where the law could have, no should have relented.<br>
But if much money was asked, shame on the 'collector'.<br>
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Valete,<br>
Valerius/Robert<br>
<p></p><i></i>
Well, basically it's a conflict between science on the one hand and greed and egocentrism on the other...<br>
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The fact that the antiquities market is bigger and more diverse than ever before - pottery, textiles and items of iron and brass are now valuable as well, instead of just precious metals and fine statuary - doesn't help either.<br>
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As for "shooting them on sight"...well, I have no quarrel with those detectorists who exercise their hobby in a responsible way, asking permission to check certain areas and who report their finds.<br>
Kudos to them, and sure, give them a reward and a pat on the back. Virtue should be rewarded.<br>
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As for the rest, modern-day graverobbers that they are...no, don't shoot them. But can't we at least force them to run naked for several rounds around the British Museum or the Museuminsel in Berlin and pelt them with rotten eggs? <br>
As for the collectors - just impound their loot and fine them. Let them prove their assets come from pre-existing private collections, or pay the price for stealing Humanity's common inheritance. <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub45.ezboard.com/bromanarmytalk.showUserPublicProfile?gid=chariovalda>Chariovalda</A> at: 3/30/04 10:25 am<br></i>
Well, the problem is, that the state institutions will never have enough money to pay for all the relics more that a private collector will. While some diggers could prefer to take a reward from the state for their finds, the majority wants to make more money, than the state can offer.<br>
Alexandr <p></p><i></i>
Aleksandr, that is so very true..<br>
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And even us re-enactors are 'guilty' of sorts, because with our re-enacting we actively kindle the interest of many people about the Roman past. I have no doubts about that - some of them will be buying artefacts some day.<br>
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Valete,<br>
Valerius/Robert <p></p><i></i>
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An interesting introduction to the problem of archaeologists and detectorists:<br>
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www.bbc.co.uk/history/arc...t_01.shtml<br>
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