Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Archaeomania in Action

In an earlier post,
I described Paul Barford as being a sort of caricature of the archaeomaniac - an archaeologist to whom a rigid, doctrinaire approach to archaeology transcends common sense and normal human values, leading to the delusion that his warped vision of "archaeology" is the most important thing in the world.

The reader can find this clearly illustrated in these recent posts to Mr. Barford's blog:

These are only the latest examples of a ceaseless flood of complaints against the cooperative interface between the hobby of metal detecting (which Mr. Barford hates more than the Devil hates holy water) and British archaeology, which overfill his blog.

As I earlier observed in "Archaeomania," I am not among "the legion of Barford-haters. I actually believe that this Hyperbolos of archaeology has become a very useful expression of what I will term archaeomania, the compulsive delusion of thinking that archaeology trumps all other human activities and concerns in its importance." 

I have previously observed that Mr. Barford is not by any means a lightweight. He is very knowledgeable, and has authored a well-respected book, The Early Slavs

Unfortunately his knowledge and abilities became part of a confrontational, abrasive personality that could not have helped his career in British archaeology, and might perhaps have something to do with his decision to leave Britain for Poland in 1986 -- where he was briefly employed by the Communist regime prior to its fall three years later. Mr. Barford's employment and achievements as an archaeologist have not been the subject of a curriculum vitae or any other public document so details are unclear, which is evidently how Mr. Barford desires they should be.

In my view Mr. Barford does perform a public service as a notorious advocate of an extreme point of view. His blog is a sort of lightning-rod attracting charged attention both from supporters and opponents, which in this observer's perspective highlights the collision between compulsive archaeocentrism and the practical, common-sense approach beneficially adopted by most British archaeologists.


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