They Scrubbed Up Really Well
by Paul Barford
There is a BM produced video of the launch of the Treasure report featuring almost entirely the Lenborough hoard - tipped out onto a kitchen table and scrubbed in a laboratory sink. There is an interview with the finder and not a mention that it was dug up in just a few hours by the FLO:
Let me guess that tomorrow morning the papers will be full of this and not a single British archaeologist or organization will be on record there raising even a murmur about the circumstances surrounding the finding and then hasty 'excavation' of this find.
Mr. Barford's account of the BM video makes two things clear: that British archaeology apparently approves of the Lenborough hoard excavation for the archaeological value of the find, and that there does not seem to be much concern voiced regarding the haste in which the excavation was carried out.
Oddly enough, this observer was one of those who agreed with Barford's thesis that important context may have been lost in the excavation. I have further argued [http://culturalpropertyobserver.blogspot.com/2015/02/monopoly.html comments] that archaeology should be given regulated professional services status, so that professional archaeologists could be entrusted with properly carrying out excavations of significant importance and properly recording the results, as well as ensuring safeguarding of any finds pending their study and analysis.
Had such a system of professional archaeological excavation management services been available, the Lenborough FLO could have halted the excavation and turned it over to professionals. Their resources would of course include necessary means of securing a site and protecting the interests of everyone concerned.
Those unfamiliar with provision and regulation of professional services may not realize that such services routinely take place in many areas of endeavor affecting nearly everyone. Engineering (my own profession before I became a full-time professional numismatist) has regulated professionals who are licensed, and provide essential services in many areas - especially those involving construction and public utilities.
My first position in the field of Engineering was in the offices of a licensed mechanical engineering firm providing consulting services to architects, specializing in design of plumbing, heating and ventilating systems. Most engineers working there were not themselves licensed, however the head of the firm was and also a few supervisory engineers. A licensed engineer had to approve every drawing, specification or other document issued.
It would make more sense to advocate development of such a professional archaeological excavation services system to deal with the existing problem of unsupervised or inadequately supervised excavations, than to expect that this problem can be resolved by critical comments in an archaeological blog. Once notice has been taken of the issue, it is time for pursuing constructive action to provide a practical solution, rather than continued criticism.