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Metallic Finds Rates on excavations
#1
Had this request from Paul Barford.

Anyone got any info?

Tell me and I will pass it on


[INDENT]I have an important question and it'd be great if I could get an answer from you and your members. Could I ask you to see if members of the BAJR forum have some info to hand?

I'd like to get some statistics on finds rates/proportions from excavations in the UK.

What I'd like are some figures for
1) the number of coins found
2) the number of other non-ferrous artefacts (small finds)
3) the number of iron small finds (I'd need to know if nails are included)...

...from excavated sites of ROMAN and MEDIEVAL date (though Post-med would not be rejected).

The idea is to compare this information from excavations with a set of data I have for objects collected by metal detectorists in East Anglia for something I am writing.

Ideally I'd like figures from 15-20 sites of different types and different regions if that is possible.

My thinking is that several of your members will presumably have worked on depositing excavation archives in recent months and will have such figures to hand.

Any help given will of course be properly acknowledged.
[/INDENT]
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#2
possibly the singlemost ill conceived and useless questionaire i have seen in years.
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers
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#3
...and I had wondered whether a trip to a library with some excavation reports (or just checking stuff that's on-line) couldn't have supplied sufficient information? - that's why we (occasionally) publish stuff, after all...
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#4
P Prentice Wrote:possibly the singlemost ill conceived and useless comment i have seen in years.


I hope this will highlight what lots of us already have observed;
that the vast majority of so-called proffesional excavtions DO NOT use any metaldectors (despite what pie-in-sky WSIs maight have said)
&
>>> when metal detecors (esp. volunteer detectorists) are used, the number of (signifcant) finds increases dramaticaly.......often from the spoil heaps, and frequently from unexcavted portions of features.

>>> Conclusion?
it is very hard to recover coins (for example) etc through digging alone (unless everything is sieved...) > large numbers of coins(etc) are routinley missed on commercial excavtions because metal dectors and skilled detectorists have not been used.

(i would appreciate numbers on this problem > a difficult statistical problem4sure, but a disgraceful situation on-the-less > How come a site in -oh i dont know, lets say central Roman/Medieval Winchester(no detectorist)-, can produce <1/10th the metal smallfinds of an excavtion on the edge of the Medieval town(keen detectorist present)? How come (for example) a major site in central Iron-Age/Roman/Medieval Abbindon produced less than a dozen metal artefacts ? Why, despite all kinds of paper work and claims to the contrary, was a Very Early Roman cementry excavted without on-site proffesional conservation support or equipment (let alone metal dectors?) )


I would suggest looking at the data as clusters > eg SMR find spots > coded by originator (ie a 'proffesional archaeological company' vs a metal dectorist),> it will be hard work to determine when a proffisonal company has made use of a metal detectorits or not......also some calim to have thier own equipment>often it has not been used for years, is poor, and nobody even knows how to switch it on.

It might also be hard to get real data on precisley how metal dectorist were used (eg just allowed to scan spiol heaps?) > for example, i have used 2 or three dectorists at once to scan large areas as 'overburden' was removed by machine in thin spits (with considerable succses)...metal dectorist being able to locate finds to features is clearly of higher value.



Part of the problem is that little attention is now paid to feet-on ground pre-ex survey... fieldwalking is now rare...and metal detecing falls into a simialr catagory >>> a similar 'survey' is also needed to highlight the desperate situation 'plough zone' archaeology is in - particulary lithics. >>> assemblages in the plough soil are NOT simply a sub-set of finds in truncated bases of features......

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#5
not sure that i like your substitution in my quote gnomeking!
my point was that answering the questions asked will not highlight anything of value.
more to the point is that they appear deliberatley designed to elicit unsupported data from industry professionals, to be used in a spurious argument/vendetta against metal detectorists. attempting to quantify the rate of metallic finds from excavated sites without regard for location, methods of recovert, type of site et etc etc and then comparing with the amount of metal finds reported from an entirely different region can only be the work of somebody who knows nothing about archaeology.
i said pointless and ill conceived because i have no doubt that any archaeologist worth employing who read the request would see through this clumsy attempt to be used and would not supply the requested data.
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers
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#6
P Prentice Wrote:attempting to quantify the rate of metallic finds from excavated sites without regard for location, methods of recovery, type of site etc etc and then comparing with the amount of metal finds reported from an entirely different region can only be the work of somebody who knows nothing about archaeology.
.

now that i could agree with...but is that what is happening?
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#7
Unfortunately, quantification of metal finds often has to carried out on the basis of the new holes that have appeared all over the site during the night...but check if you have badgers or foxes who sometimes leave similar-looking holes digging up worms...
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#8
And even when you have used a metal detector and excavated all metal signals in whatever context by the end of the working day, you still find the next morning various extra holes in site.
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#9
Hamish Wrote:And even when you have used a metal detector and excavated all metal signals in whatever context by the end of the working day, you still find the next morning various extra holes in site.

given that the majority of (50%+) of commercial sites are unexcavated, that the topsoil/subsoil is often ignored, and that recovery rate by hand (of coins etc) is very low, :

I SAY~ DETECT AWAY! (at own legal/personal risk of course)

>>if archaeologists percieve loss/damage at sites from detectorists then they need to take steps to recovery that material themsevlves!

[the vast majority of detectorists want to work with the archaeologists....]
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#10
Hmm. Some interesting questions, and would love to see Mr Barford produce some considered research in a civil & professional manner, but...

P Prentice has a point. Don't see how you could get statistically viable results given the plethora of wildly differing sampling strategies, use/absence of detectors on spoilheaps, presence/absence of someone who knows how to switch 'em on, whether or not U/S and topsoil finds are retained, before we even get into taphonomy, geographic variation and all of that.

Besides, there are many HERs that collate this sort of artefact data these days (though admittedly not all) - why not approach the HERs themselves? If there are any useful comparisons to be gleaned, going via HERs would give a more comprehensive dataset than ad-hoc appeals to those accessioning archives. They'd also be duty-bound to give him an answer. Maybe I do him a disservice, but this doesn't sound like it'll produce the sort of robust stats that this whole debate could benefit from.
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