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ТЕМА: The English model – the world’s most successful project, focused on unearthing artifacts by people..
The English model – the world’s most successful project, focused on unearthing artifacts by people.. 19 Окт 2012 11:58 #9310
The English model – the world’s most successful project, focused on unearthing artifacts by people indulging in the hobby of metal .
Synopsis: The project was started in 1997 in England and Wales by the British government and the British Museum in association with the National Council for Metal Detecting and the independent expert Treasure Valuation Committee. It was called the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Actually, owing to this project museums have the chance to acquire valuable objects that would otherwise remain unfound or would go onto the black market in antiquities. This scheme suggests that owners of metal detectors inform authorized experts of their findings and upon that British museums eagerly purchase the most valuable objects. The project is viable owing to the British Parliament’s Treasure Act, the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales, other regulations such as Lists of protected buildings, territories, historical and archaeological monuments etc.
Key words: metal , cultural values, archaeological monuments, cultural heritage protection
It has been estimated that in Great Britain every year hundreds of thousands of archaeologically valuable objects are found, many of them by means of metal detectors, others – during archaeological work, construction works and mining of minerals and other valuable materials.
In 1996 the British Parliament passed the Treasure Act and in 1997 the British government in partnership with the British Museum launched a new project called Portable Antiquities Scheme.
The emergence of a new scientific model or a legal reform in a specific civilization requires certain prerequisites: a critical social situation which prompts creative people to find solutions to incipient problems and find scientific potential.
Launching the English project is a result from the growing difficulties which are faced by archaeologists, metal detector users and other members of the community who find movable archaeological objects. The scheme started as a pilot project in late 1997 in six regions in England and Wales but later spread throughout country.
The tenets the English Portable Antiquities Scheme is based on are: cooperation and mutual respect, trust, knowledge and skills recognition and partnership between archaeologists and metal detectorists.
On a global scale, it is wars that wreak the greatest havoc on civilizations’ cultural heritage. There are examples in human history of completely obliterated cultures as a result of conflicts. Besides, such a threat is not by any means out of the question in a society in which two groups are reluctant to have an open dialogue and find an optimum and effective solution to the problem. The transition from mutual animosity to dialogue, development of common interests and goals entails the creation of new work mechanisms and new legislation.
At the heart of the innovative scheme lies the 1996 Treasure Act. The key difference between the new act and the one which had been previously in effect is that a clear and specific distinction is drawn between an archaeological finding and a . The finder is obliged, within 14 days, to report to the state only those findings which can be called according to the criteria.
Treasures are defined as objects or which meet the following criteria:
1. At least two are from the same hoard, date back at least 300 years and at least one of them contains a minimum quantity of silver and gold amounting to 10% of its weight;
2. At least 10 are from the same hoard and are at least 300 years old;
3. At least one object (non-coin) is at least 300 years old and contains 10% gold or silver;
4. At least one object (non-coin) is found, dates back to prehistoric times and contains gold or silver regardless of their amount;
5. At least two objects (non-coin) are from the same hoard, date back to prehistoric times and are made of any type of metal;
6. Any object (non-coin), made of any material, is found in the same place as another object which is deemed ;
7. Any object of exceptional historical, archaeological or cultural significance, which dates back at least 200 years, is declared a by the Minister of Culture.
All other archaeological finds such as fragments of pottery vessels, objects and found in isolation, iron and other base metals become property of the finder and owner of the land and are reported to the state voluntarily. These finds in their turn are registered in a unified and accessible database containing everything necessary for scientific research: object description, photos, whereabouts etc. More often than not these finds have scientific and not financial value. They cast new light on blanks in our knowledge and prove the existence of archaeological objects that have so far been unknown.
All archaeological objects which the state and the English and Welsh museums have evaluated as pointless to possess, just because they cannot take care of every object found and because storage room is already full, must be returned to the finder only after all scientific information has been extracted from the find. It is the registration of this information that the Portable Antiquities Scheme aims at.
The next important aspect of the English model is the conditions which urge people to voluntarily report archaeological finds and treasures. Voluntarily and with no police searches or use of force. Encouraging people is based on fair financial rewards. English lawmakers think it is much more profitable and favorable to the state’s budget if money is spent on treasures and rewards than on financial resources which do not have an effect on the end result and are swallowed up by police and investigating departments. Investing in force is obsolete and backward. Attracting like-minded people is perspicacious, boosts public trust and solves key social issues.
The amount of financial rewards for each or find is determined by a specially created independent body – the Treasure Valuation Committee which includes independent experts in various fields: representatives of museums, numismatics companies, the National Council for Metal Detecting etc. They determine the financial value of the find and pay the finder 100% of its market price. If the is found in a private land the sum is divided equally between the finder and the landowner. If the find is an archaeological object but is not a according to the criteria it is returned to the finder and the owner of the land where it was found. The find officially becomes their property. Before that, however, all details on the discovery of that archaeological object are entered into a database and it is marked down on the archaeological map of Great Britain so that it can be available for future research at any time afterwards.
It is the custom not only in Great Britain but also in other European countries to give finders of objects outside official archaeological sites a financial reward calculated as a percentage of the object’s market price. In England this is 100% of the object’s value, in Germany – 100% if it has been found on private land and 50% if it has been found on public land, in Italy – 25% of the ’s value etc. This year (2012) only in Bulgaria a preposterous Ordinance on the Determination of Remunerations and Value of Movable Cultural Monuments Delivered to Museums was passed under which:
Article 3 (2) Remuneration is determined in view of the object’s importance and the person’s contribution to its preservation and amounts to no more than BGN 5000.
(3) The amount of remuneration shall not be determined as a percentage of the movable cultural monument.
This ordinance is outrageous, to say the least. It by no means encourages an antiquities finder to go to a museum. On the contrary, it indirectly incites him/her to either sell them to the nearest dealer or take them to one of the numerous European auction markets. 110 grams of gold are worth BGN 5000 i.e. if a citizen finds a like the one in Panaguyrishte, which weighs more than 6 kilos, perhaps, upon getting acquainted with the ordinance, he/she will prefer to melt down the and then sell the 6 kilos of gold at BGN 270 thousand instead of receiving BGN 5000 for the rectitude he/she shows when delivering it to the museum. I suspect that that is what would be done by any average Bulgarian who feels the pinch, who is not interested in archaeology and art, who does not value scientific information and does not intend to write a scientific treatise and who is unwilling to get into trouble with the ministries.
The statistical data posted on the web page of the Portable Antiquities Scheme are the following:
• Every year the number of voluntarily reported archaeological objects increases. In 1998 (the trial year) there were 24 thousand registered objects, of which 10 thousand were , whereas in 1999 there were 29 thousand objects, of which 13 thousand were .
• By 21 March 2012 precisely half a million objects had been registered whereas today – the beginning of October 2012 – the number of registered antiquities is as high as 814 410.
• The whole database is available online and anyone can register and gain access with a different level of information depending on the level of their user account.
• 88% of the citizens who reported the finds had used metal detectors and all of them carried out their searches outside the boundaries of immovable cultural monuments and archaeological reserves.
• 72% of the objects were found on farming lands which are treated with fertilizers and substances and have also been ploughed numerous times by heavy machines.
• The location of 90% of the finds has been entered with great precision of up to 100 square meters which is the minimum requirement when delivering information.
• In 2009 and 2010 158 088 archaeological objects were reported and 1638 of them met the requirements for treasures.
• In the same two years 113 finders renounced their due reward in favor of the state or a certain museum.
The Bulgarian National Metal Detecting Federation is a proponent of the English model for the preservation of culturally significant finds. On 18 and 19 February this year we were invited by the General Secretary of the National Council for Metal Detecting Mr. Trevor Austin to participate in the regular meeting of the Board of Directors of the National Council for Metal Detecting in England and Wales. Mr. Austin is also a member of the National Treasure Valuation Committee in England and Wales. After two-day talks, we signed a Cooperation Agreement. In it we sincerely assert that responsible nations ought to encourage their citizens to engage in scientific research and to contribute to finding more about their past. Historical knowledge should be gained in accordance with moral norms, should be interpreted with responsibility and shared fairly. The Bulgarian National Metal Detecting Federation and the National Council for Metal Detecting in England deal with observation, information exchange, consultations, joint projects and proposals for: the ethical responsibilities, the methods of the object’s evaluation regarding rewards, the distribution of rewards and other incentive mechanisms, court and tribunal decisions regardless of their being on a local or European level. The two national organizations work together to sort out misunderstanding of their activity and to rectify unacceptable conduct in public and private archaeological research.
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