Mr. Barford's Provenance
by Paul Barford
I would have thought it recognisable by most normal people to be a rather risky task to attempt to write a biography (and psychological profile) of someone you have never met and have not the faintest idea of what he did where, when, with whom, why and in what order. But that is basically what the ACCG's Dave Welsh has just done, making it all up as he goes in his latest ad hominem "Ancient Coins" commentary There is very little in this entire ill-researched text which is true, apart from my name being Paul Barford. Most of the disparate pieces of information Welsh hangs on that name are false or misrepresented. Really, really pathetic.
Yes, there is something pathetic in all this, and it certainly is not my account of Mr. Barford and his brief career as an archaeologist during the 1980s, and how he came to become a document translator and language consultant in Warsaw,
Mr, Barford apparently believes that it is possible for him to rail at collectors, dealers and detectorists in unpleasantly sarcastic, denigrating and confrontational terms, ceaselessly berating them for not conforming to his own personal concepts of collecting, dealing and detecting ethics. without anyone consequently making a searching and critical enquiry regarding what his actual academic and archaeological qualifications are. He apparently believes that this brief statement which appears in his blog:
"British archaeologist living and working in Warsaw Poland. Since the early 1990s a primary interest has been research on artefact hunting and collecting and the market in portable antiquities in the international context."
suffices to establish him as a renowned expert whose statements of opinion must be accepted as gospel because he is, don't you know, an ARCHAEOLOGIST.
So far as I, or anyone else interested in his actual qualifications can determine, he failed to matriculate from the Institute of Archaeology in London, then worked for a few years in a junior position doing fieldwork in the UK. In 1986 he moved to Poland, where he became first an assistant lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw, and later was appointed as an Inspector of Ancient Monuments in the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.
In 1989 Poland was shaken by the victory of the Solidarity movement, and a non-Communist government was sworn into office on 13 September 1989. It immediately adopted radical economic policies which transformed Poland into a functioning market economy over the course of the next year. By 1990 Lech Walesa had been inaugurated as President and the communist Polish United Workers' Party dissolved itself to re-emerge as the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland.
Thereafter, there is no evidence that Mr. Barford has been gainfully employed in any position related to archaeology. In the absence of any published account of the departure of Mr. Barford from his position as Inspector of Ancient Monuments, it is reasonable to assume that this departure took place late in 1989 or at some time during 1990.
Since these positions did not involve archaeological fieldwork to any significant extent, it is fair to say the Mr. Barford has not actually practised as an archaeologist for more than twenty-five years, after a brief and undistinguished fieldwork career. Yet he presents himself as an expert on the subject, whose opinions should be accepted by the public as definitive, even by those whom he berates.
No sensible person would consider following the "professional" advice of a doctor, lawyer, accountant or engineer who had only worked in his profession for a few years, without earning any particular distinction, and had left that profession twenty-five years ago.
In December 2010, bemused by the irrationality and audacity of these apparently unsubstantiated pretensions, I posted in this blog the following:
"The Unprovenanced Archaeologist"
"Mr. Barford has had much to say about the iniquity of offering artifacts for sale or acquiring them, without disclosure of their provenance. He is, however, freely voicing what are clearly intended to be taken as the opinions of an expert, without adequately disclosing his own claim to be considered an expert. It is time for Mr. Barford to disclose HIS provenance."
Why has Mr. Barford not followed the example of others who present themselves to the public as experts, in publishing a detailed and factual curriculum vitae?
I have done so myself, and so have Wayne Sayles, Peter Tompa, Arthur Houghton and many other leading numismatists who have at one time or another been the subject of diatribes in Barford's blog.
If Mr. Barford does not like to have his credentials called into question and speculated upon, the simple and obvious solution is to publish them.