Quotulatiousness

August 26, 2017

When is an archaeological artifact merely “recyclable”?

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Europe, Government, Science — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In Sweden, apparently, it’s actually becoming a common practice to discard “excess” metal artifacts for literal recycling:

One of the amulet rings from the Iron Age that archaeologists are recycling. Previously, this type of object was saved, says archaeologist Johan Runer.
(Photo from Svenska Dagbladet, caption from Never Yet Melted)

Rough translation from Swedish language article in Svenska Dagbladet:

    While the debate about burning books is raging in the media, Swedish archaeologists throw away amulet rings and other ancient discoveries. It feels wrong and sad to destroy thousands of years of ritual arts and crafts, and I’m not alone in feeling so.

    “What you do is destroy our history! Says Johan Runer, archaeologist at Stockholm County Museum.

    Amulet rings from the Iron Age, like Viking weights and coins, belong to a category of objects that, as far as Runer knows, were previously always saved.

    He tried to raise the alarm in an article in the journal Popular Archeology (No. 4/2016), describing how arbitrary thinning occurs. Especially in archeological studies before construction and road projects, the focus is on quickly and cheaply removing the heritage so that the machine tools can proceed.

    He works himself in these kinds of excavations. Nobody working in field archeology wants to get a reputation as an uncooperative “find-fanatic” but now he cannot be quiet any longer.

    “It’s quite crazy, but this field operates in the marketplace. We are doing business,” says Runer.

    Often, especially in the case of minor excavations, there is a standing order from the county administrative boards that as few discoveries as possible should be taken.

    If you think it seems unlikely, I recommend reading the National Archives Office’s open archive, such as report 2016: 38. An archaeological preamble of settlement of bronze and iron age before reconstruction by Flädie on the E6 outside Lund.

    In the finds catalog, coins, knives, a tin ornament, a ring and a weight from the Viking Age or early Middle Ages have been placed in the column “Weeded Out”.

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