Friday, February 18, 2011

Due Diligence

In a recent post to one of his many blogs, self-styled archaeologist Paul Barford (in his usual extremist fashion) significantly misrepresented and distorted the facts objectively presented in my recent post on the logistics of provenance documentation:

Consistent with his past misinterpretations, Barford ignored practical realities in favor of reiterating his peculiar interpretation of obligations collectors must satisfy before they can be considered "responsible" or "ethical" according to the views of Mr. Barford and his fellow thinkers.

Such views would have more importance had not almost everyone of importance in British archaeology abandoned such perspectives in favor of the sensible approach embodied in the Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme. To Barford and his fellow thinkers compromises are anathema because they allow judgments to be based upon common sense, and what has been considered in describing politics as "the art of the possible."

Mr. Barford does not ever want to see the concept of "ethical collecting" actually become politically or practically possible. It has always been his true goal to raise objections that cannot possibly be reconciled with practices normally followed in collecting and dealing in minor antiquities, including ancient coins. What is wrong, obstructive and unjustifiable in all this is not the concept of socially responsible antiquities collecting itself, but the unreasonable conditions its critics seek to impose.

The public should realize that Mr. Barford and his like are doctrinaire conservatives, whose views cannot be altered by such insubstantial considerations as fact or practicality. Dogma is being exalted in the same manner which prevailed when Galileo urged his critics to simply look through his telescope and see the truth with their own eyes.


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