Tuesday, August 12, 2014

8/12/14 Report - Archaeology Site Closed. How To Decide When To Quit. More On Walls Full Of Silver Coins. No Cyclones.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of treasurebeachesreport.BlogSpot.com.

Treasure Coast Beach This Morning

I found this interesting article that raises some questions.  It is about an archaeological site that has been studied since Victorian days and was more recently excavated by numerous students and professionals until one archaeologist finally declared that there was 'nothing left except gravel and natural geology.'

Here is a brief excerpt from hat article.

The public is invited in for one last open day Saturday, when there will be tours, craft demonstrations, and displays of this year's best finds, including a red pottery bowl as immaculate as if made yesterday, a massive thumb ring with an enamel inlay, and a copper alloy bottle opener, which proved to be the folding handle of a Roman soldier's skillet – apart from the decoration, almost identical to a first world war mess tin handle.

Here is the link for the rest of the article.


One person wondered how long a site should be dug.   That to me is an interesting question.   This site was dug until they decided that there was nothing left but gravel and dirt.

That question of when to quit can be applied to metal detecting too.  When do you quit on a detecting site?   The answer depends on a lot of factors.  

If it is a site where there is continual replenishment of targets, such as a beach, then the answer might be never.

If you ask the question about a shipwreck site, for some the answer might still be never - at least not in their lifetime.   But for others the time to give up might come much sooner.  

The time to give up isn't necessarily when there is nothing left.  It might be much sooner when there are other more productive site.  You only have so much time to spend.

The decision about when to give up on a land site is often easier than a shipwreck site. 

Still the decision can be difficult.  Is the site really hunted out?  That might depend on you talk to. 

Will technology improve enough to make a site more productive again - perhaps in different ways?  That is another question.

Personally, I still am often surprised by how many times I can go over a land site and continue to find things.   That is especially true when you have used one detector or technique and then the next time use another detector or technique.  It is easy to think a site is cleaned out when there is still more to be found.

The goal is always one of the main considerations.   Without specific goals, you can't really evaluate success.  What do you want to find?  What types of things?   Is the goal to get everything, or only the best things?

In this study it seems that one of the most earth-shattering conclusions is that olives were eaten in England earlier than thought.   How important is it to know that?  To me it doesn't seem very important.   Not important enough to spend tons of time and money on.  But you never know what you will find before you begin.

Some people would say the fact that olives were eaten in England earlier than thought is or could be very important.  I'm sure those people are the ones that expect to get something out of the study - if not a salary, perhaps publications, recognition and professional advancement.  Good for them!  But is that why the site is being studied.  Judge for yourself.

It seems to me that archaeology is often practiced as if the primary purpose was to keep archaeologists employed. 

Lets not forget about the red pottery bowl, massive thumb ring and bottle opener that the pubic will get to view.  And whatever important information those objects might add.   But do the results justify the cost?  That is a question that should be answered.  Is it the best use of time and resources?

The same can be said of a metal detecting site.   Do the results justify the costs? 

In my opinion, that question should be answered in a very different way than a project that is being funded involuntarily by tax-payers. 

Metal detecting is voluntarily done by individuals at their own cost.  Many of the products are difficult to quantify -  recreation, exercise, lost items found and returned, and even occasionally but rarely, important discoveries that lead to archaeological investigations.

Whether you are talking about an archaeological project, shipwreck salvage (also archaeological but privately funded), or a simply metal detecting, there is a decision to be made.  In each of those three cases the decision should be made in a different way, but in all cases the decision has to be made. 

In all three cases, the decision has to be made without perfect knowledge.  You never quite know if you are quitting too soon or if there might be  better place to spend your time.  And in all three cases, there is a subjective element.  No matter how well you collect data and analyze what you have found, there is always the element of the unknown.  And that is a good part of what makes it so exciting.

More on the old house full of old coins. 

One city worker thought it might be finders keepers at first.

And they kept it quiet for months waiting to see if someone came foreward to claim the money.


Here is another article on the house with walls full of coins.


There is nothing tropical going on in the Atlantic.

On the Treasure Coast the surf is small.  At the beach above, the unusually big tides from the Super Moon didn't do anything good.

Happy hunting,