Friday, September 13, 2013

Anti-Americanism and the Archaeological Blogosphere
by Peter Tompa

It's become increasingly apparent that the anti-collector rhetoric of the archaeological blogosphere goes hand in hand with anti-Americanism.  Archaeo-blogger Paul Barford may have deleted the latest evidence from his blog called "A Word from President Putin to American Collectors", but the point stands.

And it's not just Mr. Barford.  Another archaeo-blogger, Professor David Gill of University Campus Suffolk, is no less anti-American.  It's just that he's far more subtle about it-- while Gill even fixates on pottery shards being repatriated from American museums, he's been largely silent about the provenance of artifacts in other museums, particularly ones in places like Greece, Italy and Turkey.

Is "American Exceptionalism" really the driving force behind damage to world cultural heritage or has "Archaeological Anti-Americanism" diverted attention away from real solutions to the problem?


The archaeological blogosphere -- that Wolkenkukkuksheim in cyberspace -- reeks of verbo-flatus from archaeoblogger Paul Barford.

Earlier in his career, his talents were manifested in "The Early Slavs," an outstanding account of the origins and development of eastern European Slavic peoples. More recently he publishes in a far less desirable way, e.g. nearly everything said in his blog.

Mr. Barford's disagreeable, disruptive personality perfectly matches the UK detectorist community's characterization of him as an "amazing talking arsehole." This abrasive archaeo-fanatic is cordially disliked by nearly everyone who has ever had the misfortune to encounter him, personally or online in one of his cyberpersonae.

Barford revels in being as offensive to his betters (nearly everyone else in the world) as possible. His combative countenance positively cries out for a shattering collision with one's fists.

This observer has had more experience than anyone else in dealing with "That troll Barford" from his days as a member of Unidroit-L, an online discussion list focusing on cultural property law. Barford was "seen off" after less than a year as a member -- by a coalition of members outraged by his anti-collecting posts. The same fate awaited him on the Moneta-L and AncientArtifacts discussion lists, where the listmembers and listowners refused to tolerate his disruptive presence.

Mr. Barford is (as Tompa observes) rabidly anti-American as well as anti-collecting. Barford opposes many beneficial, honorable recreational activities Americans treasure as part of their personal freedom. His choice of residence explains his visceral opposition to personal freedom.

Poland (formerly a Stalinist communist state) was partitioned before the First World War between Russia, Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After WWI Poland was governed by a regime centered around the Obóz Zjednoczenia Narodowego political movement, little better in its brutal ways than the Nazis.

Poland was overwhelmed by a Nazi blitzkrieg in September 1939, when the brief defensive campaign was strategically unsound and became a dreadful fiasco, culminating in an attack on German Panzers by the Polish Lancers. 

In this Slavic Fascist tradition, it is fitting that Mr. Barford, who failed to matriculate from the Institute of Archaeology in London, practiced archaeolgical fieldwork for a few years and then moved to Poland, now resides in Warsaw, where he occasionally translates documents.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

No Answer
by Peter Tompa

I asked anti-American, anti-collector Paul Barford a simple question in the comments section to a recent post where he quotes a US Customs official as suggesting that exporting coins from Bulgaria constituted "cultural theft."  He's chosen not to post my question on his blog (despite claiming he posts all comments) or answer my simple question so I'll ask it here.

How can a Bulgarian coin imported into the US be considered "stolen" cultural property of Bulgaria when the exact same types of coins are legally  available for sale there?

This, of course, is more a question for US Customs than for Mr. Barford.  If the US Customs official in question believes that any illegal export from Bulgaria constitutes a theft, that would be contrary to the US law he has sworn to uphold.   While Bulgaria has asked the US to impose import restrictions on cultural goods, that request has not yet been acted upon by the US State Department and US Customs. And even if import restrictions are imposed, illegal import does not constitute theft under any application of US law.  Rather, import without the appropriate documentation would constitute a violation of the import controls of the Cultural Property Implementation Act.  There is a difference between illegal export, illegal export and theft, despite what some archaeologists (and apparently some US Customs officials) believe.


The reason there was no answer is that Mr. Barford has no answer.

Mr. Barford believes that the law is something that does not apply equally to everyone. It applies strictly and harshly to collectors and the antiquities trade, and loosely and elastically to archaeologists and cultural property retentionists, according to his point of view.

The previous post in this blog presents a metal detectorist's perceptive take on Mr. Barford.

Peter Tompa's post makes it clear that the detectorist was accurate in his assessment, and that the utterances of Mr. Barford will continue to be exactly the same sort of flatulent bosh he has emitted voluminously for so many years.


Monday, September 09, 2013

The amazing talking arsehole

 Paul Barford and his amazing talking arsehole

 Here is what could be described as the "detectorist take on  Mr. Barford:

Archaeologists are modern day grave robbers and our enemy

About Me:

Paul Barford

" 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."

He calls himself an archaeologist but in reality he spends far more time writing in his many lying blogs than he does in conducting digs or doing anything else productive.

Paul Barford has built himself a sinister reputation roaming around metal detecting forums causing vexatious problems.

He himself admits he is a collector of antiquities, but in the way he goes about it, he doesn't want anyone else to enjoy the pleasures of metal detecting. This guy and all those like him are your worst enemies

Archaeologists are -- lets face it -- legalised tomb and grave robbers. They are rag and bone men, scavengers looking for buried treasure which activity, they claim, constitutes an art and a science.

Bullshite.  Science they venture to call it -- what rubbish!  They know nothing about real history and whatever they recover, they then use to make unfounded guesses about its history.

Before being allowed to even handle a trowel on a dig site, one would expect that they should have a degree in history, so they know what they are talking about for a start. Mr. Barford does not have a degree in history or in any other accepted science.

When they get to the Roman layers, seldom do these apprentice archaeologists go past that, in order to find anything Pre-roman (i.e. British). In other words, they are destroying the evidence and are totally incompetent for the interpretation task which they claim as their science.

Paul Barford is not your friend -- he is dangerous, and has his own blogger site:

Just so you know for yourself.

Here"s a sample of what this **** has to say about me -- and accuses me of inviting every detector user to raid the sites I make the public aware of.

Now is this what an archaeologist who is supposed to protect historical sites a responsible act? I think not. I think he wrote the following -- to incite irresponsible people to raid those sites as a cover for him and his arsehole mates --  to go do it themselves. Don't forget he is himself a collector and has a selfish motive.

Here's what he uttered out of his amazing talking arsehole.

"One of the standard pro-collecting arguments is that metal detectorists "research history" out in the fields while they are looking for artefacts to collect. This for the most part is nonsense, they are out there looking for things to collect. Any research they might do to put what they find into any context is done outside the normal rigours and methodologies of historical research, sometimes with tragi-comic results. Here is a classic example of the genre. There are good reasons why the History of Geoffrey of Monmouth and related material are not given much credence these days (not that they were in previous centuries either)- but some amateur historians simply do not read the kind of books which explain why. So we get some home-grown pseudo-historigraphy of the type represented by Alan Wilson. Now this gentleman has written a number of books on his theories and "has for years attempted to get the English Establishment to dig a simple hole in order to reveal the truth about the Kingdom of Wales and create a Tourist Industry" (eh? Tourists do not go to Wales?). But now we learn from the metal detecting forum UKDN that he has had help from Alan Hassell a "well-known" metal detectorist treasure hunter who has a big black box machine that makes loud noises (but never explains just what it is) which needs a little boy to carry around (a bit suspicious that). Together they "were able to find metal where there should not be any". They've just released some You Tube videos on their exploits (the texts cited below come from the links given lower down this post).

This Video held back for security and protection of the sites was never to be released until the Dumb, Stupid, Ignorant Academics and English Establishment did something to not only protect these sites but also to reveal the mistakes made in the past by trying to Silence Wilson and Blackett in the process. [...] Now beyond reasonable doubt the truth of these sites is revealed and the incompetance of the English Establishment EXPOSED for all the world to see. We take no pride in Destroying the name and reputation of Englands Establishment but enough is enough and they have had many oportunities to talk. Well let them talk their way out of this one. Don't believe anything the Englsih have to say about history its all Bullshit and we prove it.

Believe a metal detector instead, eh? Now my understanding is that these sites are in Wales, so I really do not know why its the English that are being criticised, and not the local Welsh archaeological services, but that is by the by. The problem is what these gentlemen have been telling the authorities they have found (the hyperlinks are mine, not in the original text)...

King Arthurs grave, The cross that Queen Helena recovered from the Holy Lands, King Arthurs Crown, and the Ark of the Covenant.[...] Apart from the Ark of the Covenant we also know where the Tabernacle was concealed. This is of far greater value than the Ark but for security reasons we make no mention of this in these 3 short videos.

Now funnily enough the authorities seem not to have taken their discoveries with the whining black box too seriously, so they decided to go public with the videos.
We implore the London Establishment and the Media to bring this to the Worlds Attention to stop mindless individuals armed with metal detectors destroying these very important historical sites. [...]

After much deliberation we have decided to put these videos which prove beyond doubt that there is unexplained reasons why these sites have never been investigated or even considered worthy of an archaeological dig to investigate and close the matter.[...] Send links to these clips to every TV station and media newpapers to help protect these sites and hope that one day the world can see what is buried in these important places.

Well, if the machine is detecting metal I suggest that in one case its a collapsed and overgrown barbed wire fence."

The site they are searching here is the area around the Medieval church of St Peter Ad Montem at Llanharan, Glamorgan, a place the amateur historians consider to have been Caer Caradoc which they call Arthur's capital. They dug the church (which they own) here and 'discovered' an inscribed stone and a cast metal cross. Here's what one blogger has to say about them:

In 1983, they discovered a burial stone that reads “Rex Artorius, Fili Mavricius,” which supposedly means “King Arthur, the son of Mauricius (Meurig).” In 1990, they discovered an electrum cross that reads “Pro Anima Artorius,” “for the soul of Arthur.” The problem is, as the Bad Archaeologist points out, that “Rex Artorius, Fili Mavricius” actually means “King Arthur Mauricius, of the son” and “Pro Anima Artorius” means “Arthur for the soul.” Oh dear. This is not terribly complicated Latin grammar, although one could imagine that it might fool people who put apostrophes in plurals.

Frankly, I suspect that the guy with the wispy unwashed thinning hair has just written another book (let me see, "Lost Treasures of King Arthur"?) and these are promotional videos for it. But I'll put links up here for the value of the comism of the dialogue the metal detectorist conducts with himself."

Verbal flatulence of such amazing intensity and incredibly prolonged duration must surely command some sort of reluctant respect -- despite its utter deficiency in odor, or in the persistence with which such ridiculous bosh is advanced, with a view toward decptively deluding unsuspecting readers."

Having spent more time than I suspect is justified in editing these passionately written detectorist remarks for publication in my blog, I will add my own weary perspective:

Paul Barford is not a scientist. He does not hold a degree in any recognized science. He does not understand nor use the scientific method in formulating his allegations.


Mr. Barford, in reality, has instead become a rabid and utterly unscrupulous controversialist, who incessantly attacks his betters, in the hope that they will descend so far as to notice his vile and viputerative utterances.

What a terrible waste!

 "The Early Slavs" was a great historical and archaeological literary achievement, rivaling Thucididys, and perhaps heralding the beginning of a seminal trilogy comparable to that of John Julius Norwich in his Byzantium trilogy.

Mr. Barford, please reconsider your interests and redirect them toward chronicling the history and development of Eastern European Slavic cultures. There cannot be any doubt (certainly none exists in my mind) that you are among the leading experts in this field.

It is, in my view, well within your capacity to become an historian as  famously regarded as Edward Gibbon -- who has ever attained comparable distinction in the field of archaeology?

Given the bitter history of controversy and opposition between us, this remark is posed to you as a challenge.

I hope that you may succeed in giving me grounds tor regret my present view that you are not up to this, and will never again achieve anything of  importance.