The British Museum’s Roger Bland Talks About Treasure Hunting: Is It Archaeological Rescue or a License to Loot?

For Immediate Release:
April 3, 2012
Contact: Robert Butler
The British Museum’s Roger Bland Talks About Treasure Hunting: Is It Archaeological Rescue or a License to Loot?

p>Every country deals with amateur archaeologists who search for ancient and valuable objects. Failure to control their activities can result in the loss of items of immense historical, archaeological, and monetary value. These finds end up not in museums where they can be studied, but in private collections.

Roger Bland, head of the Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasures of the United Kingdom at the British Museum, analyses the successes and issues raised by these laws in

A License to Loot or Archaeological Rescue? The Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme in England and Waleson Monday, April 16, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.

The Treasure Act gives protection to the small group of finds that legally qualify as treasure- precious-metal objects and hoards-and ensures that these are offered to museums, while offering finders and landowners the full market value. The number of finds qualifying as treasure has increased from about 25 a year before 1997 to 854 in 2010.

The laws were championed by the British archaeological community after the looting in the late 1980s of the Wanborough site in Surrey. A large hoard of Iron Age coins was systematically stolen by individuals using metal detectors; in the process great damage was done to the ruins of a Romano-Celtic temple.

The Treasure Act encourages the pubic to report their finds of archaeological objects so they can be recorded by archaeologists. Failing to report a find of treasure is a criminal offence.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme applies to archaeological finds that do not meet the legal definition of treasure. It consists of a network of 50 archaeologists to whom searchers may report their finds so that the information can be added to an online database. To date the database includes details of nearly 700,000 finds.

Nevertheless, problems remain with the illegal recovery of objects and their sale abroad.

Among Roger Bland's areas of expertise are numismatics, the archaeology of Roman Britain, and cultural policy issues. He has published extensively and in 2008 was made an Officer of the British Empire for his work. He is the American Institute of Archeology's Metcalf Lecturer for 2011-2012.

Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception will precede the event. RSVP online or call 816.701.3407.

This event is co-sponsored by the University of Missouri -Kansas City Classical and Ancient Studies Program and the Archaeological Institute of America.

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