Thursday, 31 March 2016

The quest for the Holy relic of archaeology: part six

Fossil Brittle Star
(Palaeocoma egertoni from the Jurassic Middle Lias Formation)

Science is the systematic classification of experience. 
George Henry Lewes

Anything can be classified, even classifiers. Archaeological critics of Barry Fell do nothing but state the obvious. If you go the doctor complaining of an infection in your sinuses and the doctor tells you that you have sinusitis you will go away knowing nothing new, save perhaps, for its name. Criticisms of Fell's theories lack anything that can explain why a scientist would suddenly abandon scientific methods, and for me at least, that is the real subject. The reason for this lack of explanation is that the critics are part of the problem but have not examined their own roles in the situation. Even if the critic is not, personally, an extraverted materialist the subject of archaeology certainly has that characteristic.

Charles Sanders Peirce said:
 "Philosophy ought to imitate the successful sciences in its methods, so far as to proceed only from tangible premisses which can be subjected to careful scrutiny, and to trust rather to the multitude and variety of its arguments than to the conclusiveness of any one. Its reasoning should not form a chain which is no stronger than its weakest link, but a cable whose fibers may be ever so slender, provided they are sufficiently numerous and intimately connected." Some Consequences of Four Incapacities
and it might have been Konrad Lorenz who pointed out that when an important hypothesis is finally published all of the circumstances of its discovery including its false leads, hunches, and the personal experiences of the researcher do not get included in the final product and that this gives students the idea that it was all a matter of luck and that if they could be so lucky as to have such a hypothesis drop in their lap out of the blue then they, too, might get published in some important journal one day.

When I first published my work on Coriosolite coins, I explained how I came about its discoveries and the impetus that brought me to that point, but I did not mention the previous ten years I had spent looking for something original to write about Celtic coinage. There were a number of experiences which taught me that it is easily possible to build theoretical models which are internally consistent, and quite logical yet can turn out to be utterly wrong, so by the time I started my research I had already decided to be almost obsessively exact and detailed in my method. Most classifications rely on just a few elements but I took hundreds of them into consideration and finally used 88 overlapping and specific changes to 29 features of the basic design of the coins to build my chronology. Most series of coins are classified by only two or three features of change and although any number of varieties can exist, these are not instrumental in any chronological ordering, I have forgotten exactly how many elements I noted of that sort but I think it was around four hundred or so.  My diligence and ten years work paid off: I discovered that what had been considered to be a single series was actually three series, each with its own geographical focus. The book only got positive reviews; it was the first example of the use of evolutionary cladistics in archaeology; the most detailed analysis ever published for any Celtic coinage; and in the fourteen years since its publication all newly discovered varieties have fitted into its chronology exactly. It also spun off into many directions that I had not originally intended, but all good answers lead to to many more questions and avenues of research. That is how you know you are on to a good thing. If this does not happen, then your conclusions were probably either wrong or irrelevant. Everything is connected.

Barry Fell's research into echinoderm fossils turned into a train-wreck for him:
"Back when I was a student of Barry Fell's, we were using a very primitive computer almost the size of my condominium to study ancient distributions of echinoderm fossils. It was a pretty impressive use of Harvard's computer center at the time. We were using these distributions to try to determine ancient ocean current patterns to see if Earth's axis may have been tilted at different angles in the past. The intent of this study was to disprove what we felt was the preposterous theory of continental drift, now known as plate tectonics. Of course we were wrong. Echinoderms taught me my first lesson in being open to flaws in my scientific hypotheses, and to new theories. Therefore they hold a very important place in my cold scientific heart." Dr. Bill Bushing, Harvard, Dive Dry with Dr. Bill, #278: The Spiny Skinned Critters.
Yet, otherwise, Barry Fell had been previously greatly honoured and had also become an excellent mentor to many:
"For his contributions in the whole field of echinoderm biology, particularly fossil echinoids, Barry was awarded a DSc by the University of Edinburgh in 1955. He became a Fellow of The Royal Society of New Zealand in 1960, received the Society's Hector Research Medal in 1959, its Hutton Memorial Medal in 1962, and was also the Society's Hudson Lecturer. He became a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1964.
"During his latter years at Victoria University Barry gathered around him a small but energetic group of graduate students who themselves became echinoderm specialists, including David L. Pawson who later joined the United States Museum of Natural History, Helen Rotman (nee Clark) and Alan Baker. They, and many others, found Barry to be a helpful, compassionate and greatly respected mentor, in marked contrast to the authoritarian and idiosyncratic stance that the then Head of Zoology, Lawrence Richardson, adopted towards many of his students and staff....
"The contrast between these two men was marked and eventually a serious rift developed between them, sufficient for Barry to respond in 1964 to several invitations that had been made to him to join Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology in Boston as Curator in Invertebrate Zoology. He later became Professor of Invertebrate Zoology, continuing his wide-ranging phylogenetic studies on echinoderms. As well he gained a singular reputation amongst undergraduate students for his innovative presentations and text-books on natural history of a style that had not been heard or seen for many years. He remained at Harvard until 1979, when he accepted voluntary retirement and he and Rene moved to San Diego, California.", Howard Barraclough Fell, PhD DSc Edin FRSNZ FAAAS  (the original is a New Zealand government publication, but the link to it  is now dead).
The Atlantic Online frames the problem within the subject of cultural, rather than biological diffusionism, but if you look at the broader picture from what I have given here, psychological factors are paramount in the directions that Barry Fell took. What we are seeing is an archetypal fall from grace, Jungian in its essence but since translated into the literary genre by Northrop Frye in his Theory of Archetypes (Autumn: Tragedy).

In life, just as it is in comedy and acting, timing is everything. In my younger years, before my own research, when working on something in the numismatic lab of the Nickle Arts Museum (now both the lab and the museum are defunct) I had a theory of mine completely exploded by a discovery the very next day. My lab companions were sympathetic and mentioned how disappointed I must have felt. My reply to them was "Oh, no, it's wonderful!" I explained that I now realized that a theory could be internally consistent and utterly wrong at the same time. It was the eureka moment for me that changed the way that I looked at everything from that moment on.  This is a truly great thing to have happen to you when you are young, before the accolades of life. Not so great after them, though. I know now that the glories of life are fleeting and when one door closes, another opens. But the timing of everything made it easy for me. How would you have reacted to Barry Fell's circumstances? I cannot answer that for myself.

More in this series tomorrow.

John's Coydog Community page

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The quest for the Holy relic of archaeology: part six

Obverse of a coin of the Elusates
photo: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.
Of the more outrageous writers of Fringe Archaeology Erich von Däniken has become an icon of the term. His ideas of ancient aliens visiting earth plays into a common inability of many people to imagine that the human being has been quite intelligent from the very start and that the state of modern knowledge is cumulative rather than due to gradual evolutionary changes in our brains over time.. My term for the this phenomenon is "the conceit of the present". Ironically, it has also been expressed by conventional archaeologists who have even wondered if ancient people were individuals. Many of von Däniken's statement are just too easy to refute: the Nazca line designs that he believes were designed to attract flying saucers can also be seen on their pottery and one design that he said showed runways for their craft is actually part of a depiction of a bird-wing and is so small that the "flying saucers" would also have to be about the size of a real saucer.

There are also those fringe archaeologists where the refutations of their claims are virtually as cranky as the claims, themselves: Graham Hancock's adoption of the Orion correlation theory has been refuted by a claim that the depiction of the alignment of the pyramids has conveniently been inverted can de dismissed as oppositions in design have been used to demonstrate the opposition of this world and the otherworld. It is  a frequently used motif arrangement in early Celtic art, for example where motifs and and design elements mirror each other. Nor could we say that the design of the Orion constellation is later than the pyramids because the sight of three stars in a row need not be associated with any particular design to seem significant. A better refutation would be that if the pyramid's alignment was so so important to them, then why does the design not appear as a major symbol in other Egyptian art? The adoption of a symbol can be very particular: for me, the first sighting of Orion at night where I live reminds me that winter is on the way because it is high enough in the sky at that time of the year to be visible above the houses at the time of the night I am more likely to be out. It would visible to me much earlier in the season if I was not asleep at 4 a.m. There's nothing very esoteric about that and I do not draw images of the Orion constellation to mark the fact. The idea that the lyre symbol on Armorican coins represents Halley's comet has appeared more than once in numismatic journals. The biggest problem with the idea is that the coins were not dated correctly and Halley's comet was not visible at the time, but the symbol has a much longer history including the statement by Macrobius that the four-string lyre was thought to have been the invention of Mercury and that each string represented one of the seasons; variations of the symbol also appear around the roof-box at Newgrange in Ireland which is aligned to the sun rising at the winter solstice. In 1995, I wrote two interpretations: one of the lyre symbol, the other of the boar symbol which is often substituted for it on Armorican coins at the same position. The meanings of both symbols are the same but were aimed at different ethnic groups within the society

For me, the most significant fringe archaeologist who makes outrageous claims that are easy to refute is Barry Fell. His ideas that there were very early Norse visitors to America and also that they left inscriptions in the Ogham script (which was invented much later) present no difficulties in their dismissal. For example, the coin I illustrate above is of the southern Gaulish Elusates. This particular specimen is unusually well centred and shows the complete design, on the left, of a similar coin illustrated in one of Fell's books. That particular specimen was very much off-centre and this caused the loss of half of some of the lines. Fell then gave a "translation" of the resulting "Ogham" inscription. Now even looking at other off-centre specimens would have revealed very different "translations". This is just very sloppy research. Yet, Fell was not some journalist who got a few cranky ideas, and I see no evidence that he was con-man who just wanted to make some money from gullible people. He was a scientist: a professor of invertebrate zoology at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. You would expect that someone who was steeped in the subject of comparative zoology would then use such a practice to compare different examples of a Celtic coin and even look at different Celtic coins to back up his claims. Again, the refutations also took on an absurd slant: it was said that he was an amateur, but Sir John Evans, who not only laid the foundations of British Celtic coin studies but also adapted geological seriation to archaeological practices and is considered to be one of the fathers of modern archaeology was also an amateur. He ran a family paper company.

The solution to this problem includes not only the claims made by the more outlandish fringe archaeologists, but also the inappropriate refutations of such claims and why the media is always to willing to capitalize on them, and take into consideration, that for the latter, media attention and their profits are fuelled by public demand, so just saying "for profit:" is not the solution at all to that part of the picture. We have to consider that what is happening in recent history is a societal "complex" which will include not only fringe archaeology in both its extremes and its valid applications, but also the phenomenon of archaeological compulsive hoarding; secular fundamentalism; the propensity of organizations to adopt the needs of the extremely expressed extraverted thinking types; the appropriation of the past by special interest groups such as archaeologists and through nationalist political mind-control methods; why metal-detecting and collecting historical and prehistorical objects has become so popular in the general population; and the dangers of extreme materialism.We must also look at the solution to the problem of the eventual extinction of the discipline and public interest in archaeology, itself, because that could become the next phase in this problem. The signs are already in place for that happening, as unlikely as that might seem to most people. As I was unable to include some of what I wanted to talk about in this episode because of the unexpected amount of space I had to use to even just introduce this part of my argument, I will continue in tomorrow's episode. I do not do this sort of thing as a "cliffhanger" so much as that blogging is an alla prima sort of activity and I just never know exactly where I am going, or how long it will take until I get there; even though the Scheherazade method certainly has its uses!

John's Coydog Community page

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The quest for the Holy relic of archaeology: part five

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody
has seen and thinking what nobody has thought."
Albert Szent-Györgyi, 1893-1986.
Discoverer of Vitamin C
Graphic:     Eugenio Hansen, OFS
When you Google the term "fringe archaeology", the first result takes you to the Wikipedia entry for "Pseudoarchaeology" which also provides a number of alternative terms. "Fringe archaeology" is the one I am most familiar with and it also covers a greater range of examples. It also does not impose a value-judgement which is very important. For example, I know an archaeologist who, not that long ago, had a paper on archaeoastronomy rejected by the Prehistoric Society only on the basis of it being on archaeoastronomy. An explanation for this is given in the Wikimedia entry for archaeoastronomy, where the term "fringe archaeoastronomy" is given.

The term "cult archaeology" is also given,  in the Wikipedia entry, "pseudoarchaeology" but in this series I have shown that mainstream archaeology has a cult component as referenced in Raimund Karl's choice of using "Every sherd is sacred" as a title in his look at compulsive hoarding applied to archaeology. The word "cult" can be used to describe an ancient focus on one part of a larger set of deities within a cultural religion, such as the Isis cult which then travelled outside of Egypt, and it can also be used to describe various modern religious sects which are connected by their use of mind-control methods. However, mind-control in less destructive ways are also used in politics right down to trying to influence your choice of breakfast cereal. All of these terms are minefields of slanted writing, PR "jargon" and value judgements but we can cut through all of that by taking a postmodern approach and by looking at the area of the problem within texts:


The ngram pretty-well speaks for itself, but taking the use of pseudoarchaeology usage in Google Books to 1970, we can see that two of the three occurrences are within the same book and only the last one mentioned (1970) is really on topic. Of course, this is only a sample of publications but we can assume that the statistics, if used in a general way, do represent the valid picture of this being a very modern phenomenon. You will also note that "fringe archaeology" has a gradual increase while the other terms are marked by a number of sudden spikes. We can thus separate the natural growth of the term from what might be faddish or socially engineered. Another symptom in 1970 was of course the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. UNESCO, itself, was founded in 1946 and based in part on Julian Huxley's neo-Darwinist influenced ideas about eugenics and a single-world government. George Bernard Shaw, writing to Beatrice Webb on the 26th November 1942 included the following:
"Do you take in The Listener? I am having a bit of a scrap with Julian Huxley in which Wells [H. G.] is implicated. They insist that I am a brainless emotionless incapable of reasoning and ignorant of science, I tell them that their materialist neo-Darwinism is only an anti-clerical backwater which has no connection with real science. My book rubs this in very hard. I read Pavlov very thoroughly (nobody else could or did, I believe) and found it a tissue of ridiculous nonsense founded on a set of disgustingly cruel experiments—25 years of them, all failures."
Also, it was around 1970 when "New Archaeology" came about as a spin-off of the materialistic modernism and which soon became apparent was more scientistic than scientific

The general theme of all of this was in the attempted removal of possible public discoveries about the past to "official" archaeology which then would take care of everything for the public by way of proxy. Whether this was hare-brained or sinister is a matter of opinion but it cannot be denied that it was an attempt which would fly in the face of one of the things that makes us human and is responsible for the amazing advances of our species over the millennia: our need for discovery and innovation. You will, undoubtedly realize that virtually every discovery of which we have information about was made by an individual, and only rarely by two individuals (Crick and Watson, for example). The phenomenon is so well-known that the we have such jokes such as "a camel is a horse designed by a committee". People, apparently, can accomplish remarkable things on their own, but when they gather together in very large groups, sanity is the commonest victim. The commonest official archaeology response to the more outrageous expressions of fringe archaeology is that they should educate the public better. This comes about because the environment in which this is being said is academic and is rather too self-centred and cult-like in its opinions. The postmodernist archaeologist Ian Hodder, in Reading the Past while still being influenced by the narrow academic view and the translation of the problem to within only educational and class-system frameworks built into the survey questions does, in a brief moment of lucidity add:
"When they do manage to gain some access to an immediately experienced past, they are often directly confronted by the archaeological establishment, or else their views are studiously ignored."

He then blows it all by placing the battle over metal-detecting within the framework of "social divisions" (and this sort of view is largely distasteful to the average Canadian, I should add).

Tomorrow, the real psychology at play with various expressions of fringe archaeology and if there is enough time in that episode (these matters are complex even when treated briefly), how archaeology is working very hard to destroy itself.

John's Coydog Community page

Monday, 28 March 2016

The quest for the Holy relic of archaeology: part four

Edmund Husserl established the
school of phenomenology

"He was powerfully aware that the historical significance of the rise of psychology was as a reaction to rationalism, materialism, and the death of God, and he saw that no-one was truly healed who had not recovered a ‘religious outlook’ on life. But that outlook is not given by retreating from incarnate life into a heavenly place of prayer – which would perpetuate the very Gnostic splits that Jung sought to heal – but by descending deeper into those things with which the patient is concerned: his symptoms. ‘The gods have become diseases,’ says Jung. ‘Zeus no longer rules Olympus but rather the solar plexus’".

Roger Brooke, Jung and Phenomenology (Routledge Mental Health Classic Editions) p.8f

Reading Brooke's classic work this weekend, I was reminded of the difficulties Jung had in getting his ideas across to people, and Brooke starts by explaining why some phenomenologists' rejection of Jung was unwarranted. It was not just in Jung's communication, however, but in both his philosophical outlook and the perspectives of his time. I realized that in all my years of reading Jung, much of my understanding of him had come about through assimilation, and that anyone who would depend on the discovery of a quote or two from him without a wider look at his work, or those who would take things too literally instead of viewing them as foci of broader interpretation could so easily become lost.

This was very important for today's post as I will be partly dealing with Jung's psychological types. It is extremely fortunate that the core of those writings exist online and can be read without payment or some membership. So when I give some quote, you can see it in at least a certain amount of context. It is also necessary to explain that the types he is discussing are viewed from the perspective of a doctor dealing with his patients and are not intended to be as representative as a description of the same type as expressed in someone of the same type who would rarely feel the need to seek out therapy. The type of my main focus is the extraverted thinking type, but you can also find this type well-represented among successful and well-adjusted business executives. All the same, though, if you were looking for a sensitive and patient response to some emotional difficulties you were experiencing, seeking out a business executive would probably not be your first choice, even though such a person could guide you very well in starting a company, or managing your time. I should add, too, that the Jungian rational and irrational types are not what you would think them to be: irrational does not mean "crazy" it means an approach to something that comes about through observation or sensing rather than trying to work it out through the thinking processes. You can see this situation in the TV show "The Big Bang Theory" where Sheldon Cooper comes to the wrong conclusions through logical thought to situations blatantly obvious to those around him. You might say that Sheldon completely lacks a phenomenological approach.

In dealing with organizations of any type, and regardless of their specialty, the organization will likely behave in a manner atypical to that of an average person within in it.It has been said that many organizations act in manner that would be pathological if applied to a an individual and we are already dealing with pathology in talking about obsessive hoarding, so we are on firm ground here. We are also dealing with secular fundamentalism:
"I’ve come to believe that there is a scientific/intellectual right that is no less fundamentalist and no more tolerant of other views than their religious counterparts. Their belief system is one of the secular churches - science, mathematics, philosophy, etc., and anyone who does not think as they do is ipso facto evil. Oh, they would never use a term like evil - they use their world’s terms for evil - stupid, benighted, brainwashed, you name it.
Ed Gurowitz, Ph. D. (Neuropsychology), Beware Secular Fundamentalism, Huffington Post.
Compare this with what Jung has to say about the neuroses of the extraverted thinking type:
"In accordance with his definition, we must picture a, man whose constant aim -- in so far, of course, as he is a  pure type -- is to bring his total life-activities into relation with intellectual conclusions, which in the last resort are always orientated by objective data, whether objective facts or generally valid ideas. This type of man gives the deciding voice-not merely for himself alone but also on behalf of his entourage-either to the actual objective reality or to its objectively orientated, intellectual formula. By this formula are good and evil measured, and beauty and ugliness determined. All is right that corresponds with this formula; all is wrong that contradicts it; and everything that is neutral to it is purely accidental. Because this formula seems to correspond with the meaning of the world, it also becomes a world-law whose realization must be achieved at all times and seasons, both individually and collectively. Just as the extraverted thinking type subordinates himself to his formula, so, for its own good, must his entourage also obey it, since the man who refuses to obey is wrong -- he is resisting the world-law, and is, therefore, unreasonable, immoral, and without a conscience."
Tomorrow, how these organizational attitudes have brought about "Fringe Archaeology". Read the link here and compare it with the quotes above about the secular fundamentalist and the extraverted thinking type neuroses. Sometimes, things are just too easy.

John's Coydog Community page

Friday, 25 March 2016

The quest for the Holy relic of archaeology: part three

T. E. Lawrence in  Palestine, June 1920
"...(did you understand that I enlisted not to write books, but because I was broke?) and am not yet quite in the deep stuff, though three Govt. Departments exhaust themselves trying to find me a billet.... I turn down all their ideas, and ask for something poorer, and they think I mean richer. Soon they will burst themselves. You see I'm fed up with being called Colonel in this ridiculous year 1923: and am determined not any more to be respectable. Besides I liked being an A.C.2. and would like to be something of the sort in future..." Letter To B. E. Leeson, February 4, 1923, signed "J. H. Ross".

"...A telling why I joined? As you know I don't know! Explaining it to Dawnay I said 'Mind-suicide': but that's only because I'm an incorrigible phraser. Do you, in reading my complete works, notice that tendency to do up small packets of words foppishly? At the same time there's the reason why I have twice enlisted, in those same complete works: on my last night in Barton Street I read chapters 113 to 118, and saw implicit in them my late course. The months of politics with Winston were abnormal, and the R.A.F. and Army are natural...." Letter to Lionel Curtis, March 19, 1923, signed "R" (John Hume Ross).

"When we were away, we were worth more than other men by our conviction that she was the greatest, straightest and best of all the countries in the world, and we would die before knowing that a page of her history had been blotted by defeat. Here, in Arabia, in the war's need, I was selling my honesty for her sustenance, unquestionably."  T. E. Lawrence, The Complete 1922 Seven Pillars of Wisdom: The 'Oxford' Text, J. and N. Wilson, Castle Hill Press Editions, third edition with amendments, 2014, Volume II, Chapter 113, p. 651f.

Everything is connected. Yesterday, I left you with the phrase "mind suicide" as it was the closest concept I could think of to describe what follows in this quest. Today, I realize that it is not the perfect parallel because in the case of certain archaeologists, it is not a matter of free will, but the effect of a neurosis and is not part of any conscious thinking on their part.It relates more closely to someone saying "That would be suicidal!". Unfortunately, there is no term in the English language to describe it. It is not "self-destructive" behaviour in its essence, although that can be a side-effect; it is a destructice force that affects all in its path. It came to me, of course, because of my ongoing research into a document about T. E. Shaw (the name adopted after T. E. Lawrence") by one of his friends. Throughout this blog, in the three years I have been writing it, I have focused on certain people with whom I share some similarities of personality. To be fairly specific: the introverted intuitive personality types (Ni). T. E. Lawrence/John Hume Ross/T. E. Shaw, was such a type, as was Jung and Nietzsche. Write what you know. Other sorts of personality types can have a hard time understanding the introverted intuitive and must replace, with hard work, what comes naturally with us. Conversely, the  Ni, as all people are different, must temper the natural with hard work in order to be authentic.

Authenticity is also a strong characteristic of the Ni.You can see it in the quotes I give above. But in part one of this series we see Silberman giving a secondary title: "Moving beyond the cult of object- centred authenticity" without using the word authenticity, whatsoever, in his text and failing to to understand the meaning of "object". Besides, calling authenticity a cult is obviously inauthentic. A critic might say that in there was inauthenticity in having three different names in one life, but T. E. Lawrence was not an authentic name, either, and that was something of which he was keenly aware.
He was free to write his own identity. Perhaps this was the inspiration for Sherif Ali's line in the movie: Lawrence of Arabia "Truly, for some men nothing is written unless they write it." Sherif Ali had actually said no such thing when Lawrence returned after finding Gasim, at least, it is not mentioned in The Seven Pillars. It was all part of the mythology from which John Hume Ross was trying to separate himself.

We turn, again, to archaeological hoarding as it is gives us the essential key to the big picture and shines a light toward the end of this quest. In the compulsive hoarding neurosis, the objects that are hoarded become symbols. Jung explains symbol formation in Psychic Energy (original German version published in 1948), but now included in On the Nature of the Psyche in the collected works, p. 45:
"The psychological mechanism that transforms energy is the symbol. I mean by this a real symbol and not a sign... The mechanism would be destroyed by a semiotic interpretation... I am far from suggesting that the semiotic interpretation is meaningless: it is not only a possible interpretation but also a very true one. Its usefulness is undisputed in all those cases where nature is merely thwarted without any effective work resulting from it. but the semiotic interpretation becomes meaningless when it is applied exclusively and schematically—when, in short, it ignores the real nature of the symbol and debases it to a mere sign."
When you ask an advocate of archaeological hoarding why this should be so, in all cases they will reply that these objects are stored for future study and in some cases will also add that as new methods become invented, the earlier discovered objects can then be studied in more depth. Other people of the same mind-set also might advocate leaving things in the ground until such a time that technology can better deal with the, Implicit in this view, is the idea that the present technology is insufficient, but you will not hear this being voiced. It is actually a conscious avoidance  which will then initiate an unconscious pathological response as that is the natural, and compensatory, reaction to repression.

A number of people are drawn to archaeology as a means of investigating the past because it deals in the material. This is an extraverted characteristic which if extended to neurotic levels, results in a total distrust of anything that is not material. You see this in two, apparently, very different sorts of people: the atheist and the religious fundamentalist. Archaeology attracts the atheist but not the religious fundamentalist because, of course, the latter will wish to ignore all that appears to go against their faith, and archaeological evidence is frequently used to debunk the idea that the world was not created in 4004 BC; that evolution is a reality, and so on. The atheist archaeologist, however, does not get off the hook so easily and transforms his materialism, not in the belief of a real, solid, God somewhere who created the world, but projects that same authority to the discipline of archaeology itself. They thus become fundamentalist archaeologists and start making laws and rules about everything and try to get civil authorities to adopt such just as the religious fundamentalist does the same in having Intelligent Design taught as science in schools.

The reason that all of this archaeological material is archived (hoarded) is because of the unconsciously known fact that their faith in an, external, archaeological record is unfounded; that context (which, significantly, avoids all expressions other than those of the material at the archaeological site) is also a myth. Apart from rare occasions of things like the  "smoking gun" type of evidence, all such context is subjectively intuited. Such people cannot do this as they cannot look inward (being extreme extraverts) and they then attribute the lack of knowledge to an undeveloped technology that will, one day, appear whole to save them all. It becomes a Messianic correlate. You see this, also, in the myths of Arthur and Charlemagne returning from the dead to save their societies.

I will be back on Monday with more evidence and some chilling ramifications in this theme. Have a revelatory weekend.

John's Coydog Community page

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Three years old today

photo: Puschinka 
An extra post today as this blog is having its third birthday. I find it difficult to believe that I have written 653 posts in that time, most quite detailed essays, quite a lot of them in multi-part series. I seem to have settled down to writing a post each weekday and the taking the weekend off. Now and again I will take a longer break, like at Christmas or if I am travelling somewhere in the summer.

Very often, I have no idea what I will be writing about until the morning I start to write it and there is very little that is planned more than two or three days in advance. Within a series, I only have an idea for the following day's episode and that happens while I am writing the current day's entry.

Considering I am writing mostly esoteric stuff about early Celtic art and Jungian psychology, I am rather happy with the stats. I notice that another stats program gives different results  and sometimes the Google stats give conflicting results (a few days ago in the "Now" view, there were five times the numbers of countries represented as the numbers of page views. How does that work? The first tall spike near the beginning of the chart was actually mostly a bot clicking on the bog more than 1,500 times. I have no idea why. It went away and never returned. The rest of the peaks were authentic. I also do not know why February into the first half of March is always quiet. What is not a surprise, though, is why my most popular post has more than 7,000 page views and ranks very high in Google searches: It is about my coyote hybrid (coydog) Tristan. He's the real celebrity; the most famous coydog in the world; people even stop me on the street wanting to take a photograph of him. Although most of his page hits come from the US and Canada, (where coyotes live) he gets a surprising number of hits from all continents.

Another number one Google search result is for "the seal of Alexander the Great" the most popular page in that series is right now at 1,500 views. It puts things in the right perspective: Tristan's 7,000 views are because he's a dog. People like dogs. Alexander the Great is dead. That I have more than 800 hits on an example of early Celtic art I find amazing. That must be just about everyone who is interested in that subject. I remember when Leon Redbone was a guest on Johnny Carson and Johnny said "I have all your albums" Leon Redbone replied "So you are the one!"

Normal service will resume tomorrow.

John's Coydog Community page

The quest for the Holy relic of archaeology: part two

The electron microprobe shown here is virtually an antique: probably dating to circa 1960, its appearance borders on the steampunk. Today, we would expect to see one connected to a desktop computer and monitor and  a lot of what was done with hardware back then is now done with software. You can buy used examples for as little as  the price of a very good used car, but don't expect maintenance and parts replacement costs to compare to those of your local automotive shop. Having an oil leak is one thing, X-ray leaks are quite another matter. Think about that should see  a really cheap one offered on Ebay.

Continuing with Ray's hypothetical Roman coin from yesterday's post: we could take the one from the collection, or the same type and variety  from an archaeological excavation, analyse it with such an instrument and not only discover its alloy but also find trace element impurities we can measure accurately down to about 0.1%. When I discovered 0.303% cobalt in my Celtic Plastic Style sword pommel it was cause for wild celebration. It seemed virtually riddled with cobalt. That small measurement was at the upper end percentage for what I was hoping for. With an electron microprobe highly significant percentages can be very small indeed. Before I could get this measurement, I had to brightly polish a small area on the socket of the pommel, and for any sample, be it from a collection or an archaeological dig, you have to do the same if you want to know things about its original state. If, however, you have an ancient coin and want to know something of its internal structure, you have to go a lot deeper than a good polish. Sawing it in half is not going to help, you really need to put it in a bench-vice and hit it very hard with a steel hammer to break it.

There are a large number of excavated metal objects sitting in museums which could provide very valuable scientific data if it was allowed to even just polish a tiny, unobtrusive area. Some people make the claim that archaeology is a science. I do not agree, but it can certainly use science. A number of analyses have been done on coins, however, probably because they are multiple items. I cannot recall such an analysis being done on a unique coin, though. Hopefully such a thing has been done at least once or twice. Analyses of the metal of other Celtic objects are extremely rare. Why would this be so? Surely, if archaeology has scientific pretensions, then everything should be so analysed as a matter of course until we have samples large enough to make further testing a waste of time and money. Most examples of early Celtic art are unique, not because we have only found one of them, but because only was one was ever made. We do get multiples of  the more domestic objects like brooches and simple harness fittings and even military sword furniture of plain design have been made in multiples, but shields and decorated sword scabbards; anything commissioned by the elite, are a one-off.

Many archaeologists are frustrated that they cannot get permission to have something analysed, and many other archaeologists are frustrated about being asked for such an analysis.You  read about an archaeologist stressing the value of tactile communication with the object and see others wearing white gloves so as not to damage the surface. The latter is almost always an unnecessary precaution as many patinas start from people handling objects and unless you have some bizarre medical condition even an electron microprobe would be unable to detect cumulative damage on a patinated object. It would be different matter, of course, if you were handling biological samples for dna testing, or handling modern proof coins that have never been touched. Something else is going on, something religious and/or pathological.

The very best definition of archaeology is simply: the study of the past from its material remains. If you are doing that, you are doing archaeology. But archaeology has another component that does not seem very strange to those whose experience is only within its discipline, but is actually very strange, indeed. It is theory-ridden. Even theoretical physics, which by its very name, is theoretical, does not have such widely divergent theories that change with such rapidity. Other science's general theories change but little at all over decades and changes are to do more with methods and so on. Philosophical thought can be quite diverse and there are battles between religions that are amazingly similar to each other to any outside observer. Science and mechanics are heavily pragmatic: was the experiment successful? is it working? If the answer is "no" then it is back to the drawing board. Theories come about through inductive, scientific reasoning based on experiments, even thought experiments (as happens in theoretical physics). But if archaeology is the study of the past from its material remains, you would think that there is at least some room for science in it, even though you cannot run experiments on the past. All that is material is physical; is an object. When you see objects being discussed in a derogatory way by an archaeologist you are seeing a symptom of "mind-suicide". I will start to explain this tomorrow.

John's Coydog Community page

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The quest for the Holy relic of archaeology: part one

Relic of the Holy Blood carried during the
Procession of the Precious Blood
(Bruges, Belgium) photo (modified): Carolus

The ostensibly practical problem of storage problems for archaeologically excavated material as discussed by Morag Kersel in Storage Wars is but the tip of an iceberg containing pathological and religious elements.

Two papers with similar titles could be seen as a question and an answer, but as each does not refer to the other, the primary question can be seen as either. It is of no importance which came first and I have arranged them to reveal, mainly, just one aspect of the issues that are discussed. The quotes I have chosen reveals my first theme.

"Yet, maybe the storage crisis is based on an assumption that has already begun to be questioned in the wider field of cultural heritage: that significance is intrinsic to the artifact (De la Torre 2013). The perceived responsibility that all excavated ancient artifacts must be curated in perpetuity, whether they undergo any further analysis, speaks of the belief in a kind of sanctity that infuses the artifacts themselves. This harkens back to the Late Antique cult of relics, in which the objects touched by the apostles or saints were deemed to share in their metaphysical power (Brown 2009). Are we afraid to throw away the bulk of collections that have lost their context and documentation because they are inherently “holy” in some way?" 
Neil Asher Silberman, Is Every Sherd Sacred?: Moving Beyond the Cult of Object-Centred Authenticity Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies,Volume 3, Number 1, 2015, pp. 61-63
 "Interestingly – and comparable to the selective inability of hoarders to discard – we see this necessity only if we think of objects as archaeological finds: the same Roman coin is of little interest to us if it has been held in a collection for the last 500 years; but if recently found in the ground, it becomes a priceless archaeological treasure." 
Raimund Karl, Every sherd is sacred: Compulsive Hoarding in Archaeology. In G. Sayeh, D. Henson, Y.F. Willumsen (eds), Managing the Archaeological Heritage. Proceedings of a session at EAA 2014, Istanbul. 2015

Taking Silberman's secondary title: "Moving Beyond the Cult of Object-Centred Authenticity", we might perceive that Karl's hypothetical Roman coin is really not the cult-imbued object after all, as the circumstances of its history is what gives it that status. So what is the hidden object at the centre? It is highly significant that, "object-oriented" and "authenticity" appears only in the title (although "authentically" can be found once in the text. We can trace earlier usage of  these terms and I have selected such examples from one source (in the title and text) that will play an important role and identify the sign in question later in this topic:

"...the shift from an object-based epistemology, the language of late-19th century museums, to an object-based discourse, the dominant voice in late twentieth century museums. 
"Whether an object-based epistemology has evolved or has been completely eclipsed by the inclusion of the visitor's perspective in an object-based discourse is a question that is beyond the purview of this chapter, although the evolved role seems more likely. ... In the original object-based epistemology, the natural history of the object played center stage; in an object-based discourse the central role is likely to be that of the object's participation in the cultural or lived history of the visitor, with the scientific nature of the object relegated to a supporting part." 
E. Margaret Evans, Melinda S. Mull and Devereaux A. Poling, The Authentic Object? A Child's-Eye View. in S. G. Paris (Ed.) Perspectives on Object-Centred Learning in Museums, Mahwah, (pp. 55-77)
Some people make the mistake of referring to only an artefact as an object and thus differentiate it from an archaeological site. An object is anything that can be named, thus we have "material object" to clarify what is solid as opposed other non-material sorts of objects like "success"; "good health";  "love"; and so forth. What names or thinks about an object is the subject. The subject is always alive. Hence when you think about something, you are being subjective. If someone is pointing at you, to that person, you are an object but the person's reason for pointing is subjective to that person.

Karl thus shows us that the true object which is imbued with significance (subjectively) is the archaeological site.

Read all of the papers to which I have  linked as their other content is also important in this series, and I will be back tomorrow with more.

John's Coydog Community page

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Forever Jung

For a long time, I have been receiving Google alerts about C. G. Jung. Fifty-five years after his death he continues to be relevant. Pretty well all of these alerts have linked to articles about his studies in psychology and what he had to say about mythology, dreams and alchemy. But a couple of weeks ago, I got one on the current American political scene. While not as surprising, and far less delightful than the marriage proposal I also received satirizing the same political scene, it gave me pause to wonder about why Jung is now being dragged into modern politics.

I do not think he would have been that happy to have been so recruited when he was alive: The thing shared by so much political writing is "...ism". We have conservatism; socialism; communism; even fundamentalism. Jung did not take kindly to such things as he wrote in On the Nature of the Psyche:
"...the more highly charged the collective consciousness, the more the ego forfeits its practical importance. It is, as it were, absorbed by the opinions and tendencies of collective consciousness, and the result of that is the mass man, the ever-ready victim of some wretched "'ism.""
The mass man, of course, is the target of every politician and the collective consciousness can so easily become the mob mind. This will be the fourth time I have used this other quote from Jung:
“… what did Dionysus mean to Nietzsche? What he says about it must be taken seriously; what it did to him still more so. There can be no doubt that he knew in the preliminary stages of his fatal illness, that the dismal fate of Zagreus was reserved for him. Dionysus is the abyss of impassioned dissolution, where all human distinctions are merged in the animal divinity of the primordial psyche – a blissful and terrible experience. Humanity, huddling behind the walls of its culture, believes it has escaped this experience, until it succeeds in letting loose another orgy of bloodshed. All well-meaning people are amazed when this happens and blame high finance, the armaments industry, the Jews, or the Freemasons.” [Jung notes (44): "I wrote this passage in spring, 1935"] C.G. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, p.89f. First Princeton / Bollingen Paperback printing, 1980.

Perhaps we should be less worried about what politicians say, and more worried about us reacting to such. I always try to ignore politicians: I do not listen to them and I never vote for them. At 66 years of age I can tell you that such behaviour will prevent wrinkles caused from frowning or laughing; and will also help to prevent stress-related diseases. It will keep you young and individualistic.

John's Coydog Community page

Monday, 21 March 2016

The Pocklington and Tisbury brooches

Hallstatt D/ La Tène transition brooch
Tisbury, Wiltshire, metal detector find (click to enlarge)
I am going to have to change "strange occurrences in my life" to "normal occurrences in my life". Starting on March 7th, one of my metal detectorist/collector friends who lives within the territory of the ancient Celtic Dobunni tribe sent me photographs that he took of a strange brooch found by a friend of his at Tisbury, Wiltshire, wondering if it had a connection to the brooch found at the Vale of White Horse district in Oxfordshire and an apparently related brooch from Cliddesden, Hampshire. The two Portable Antiquity Scheme brooches had recesses for (missing) inlays, but the Tisbury brooch was made as a solid bronze brooch without inlay. It also had a pin with a swivel connection but no spring, while the Cliddesden brooch did have a spring (or perhaps just a dummy- spring) with an external cord, indicative, perhaps, of a brooch from Champagne. Although the PAS record says that the catch-plate is similar to La Tène 1 brooches, that is not exactly true as the latter has a smooth transition from the foot of the bow to the catch-plate and as this type of brooch is equal-ended, it has no foot, so the catch is really a hook which issued from the end of the brooch. With only three examples (and there is nothing similar among the Hallstatt D brooches in the Morel collection from Champagne) and at least two major varieties, there  was not much to go on.
The underside of the Tisbury brooch

Another problem is that metal detector finds from agricultural land can be alongside objects from various periods brought up and scattered by by the plough. Only if there are enough MD finds and nearby objects are shared among these by only a single period is identification certain as these are not archaeological sites per se as no stratification exists. A Celtic object, on its own might have been in the vicinity since it was lost; brought there in a load of top-soil or fertilizer from elsewhere; or dropped by someone who found or bought it elsewhere in any time in the last two millennia. Any claim to its origin would be nothing more than wild speculation, and worse still, could lead to false datasets for types. There are also objects that look a lot like very different objects: a broken piece of an eighteenth. or nineteenth century barrel spigot handle can look like a variety of a Hallstatt scabbard chape. Dean Crawford described the actions of most detectorists as being like "seagulls at the tip". Looking for archaeological context in a ploughed field would be about the same as looking for it at your local city dump. It is only when a number of objects are of the same period and at the same place that any claim of a potential archaeological site can be made, and even then it is likely that, without stone structures or post holes etc. lower than the ploughed levels, no valid archaeological record can be written with any claim to objectivity. The accumulated finds of similar objects can, if there are enough of them, enable someone through a properly done art-historical analysis to construct an evolutionary model of the object type, but you really need quite a lot of objects and a lot of overlapping variations to accomplish this feat. Without that,  subjectivity could be just too great. Ian Stead (1991) constructed a typology for the involuted brooch whereby the Ferrybridge example would be the most modern of all and could even be a late survivor of a La Tène 2 type that was made in the early La Tène 3 period. In other words, anytime during the last half of the first century BC to the first half of the first century AD. As I have not done such a study, myself, and the published diagrams are generalities based on just a few features (others might exist that are not mentioned) I always give the end of the period and say only circa 50 BC. I used to have a piece of paper taped the wall above my desk when I working on the Coriosoltie coinage. It had one word written on it: "Specificity".

Imagine my surprise when I saw the news report which was the first publication of the photograph another brooch of the same type from a recent archaeological cemetery site at Pocklington, East Yorkshire which was dated only ten days after I first saw the photos of the Tisbury brooch. Now there are four known examples of this newly discovered type. More importantly, there are also enough detail to fix the type more securely. The inlay on the Pocklington brooch is coral.There was a cluster of news reports at the same time, but this one had the most photographs that I saw. Unfortunately, no one thought of providing one of the underside of that brooch, so we do not yet know if it has just a swivel pin attachment and should it have a spring, whether the cord is internal or external. That could tell us if the Pocklington brooch is British-made or was brought there from France:
"Brooch making is evidenced in Britain by a few brooches of Ha-D tradition (pl.32c-g) but with distinctly insular details of design and construction—the plain pin swivelling on a rod without any spring (pl. 36)." Martyn Jope, (Ian Stead, ed.) Early Celtic Art in the British Isles, Oxford, 2000, Chapter 3; The Emergence of Insular Celtic Art; Brooches and other small objects; Early Brooch Making in Britain, p. 39. [footnotes omitted]
 Of course, the media cannot get the dates right. The site also contains La Tène swords (after ca. 300 BC.)  Seriation was a big thing in the nineteenth century and Sir John Evans was instrumental in that, but this is the twenty-first century: Bronze Age and Iron Age  etc. are so Victorian. The reports on the recent Celts exhibit in England and Scotland being the last gasp of the outdated ideas that could not perceive a Celtic cultural identity, being similar in effect to the fruit tree tree which bears the most fruit of its life just before it perishes. Hallstatt D as a style, cannot always be dated as Hallstatt D as a period and it took a while for outlying areas to change. The "Long Bronze Age" of Ireland, for example, is something often spoken of by the cognoscenti.

The Jurassic Way route (dotted lines) between East Yorkshire and Dobunni territory (dark grey overlay), with the discussed counties in red. Adapted from this and related maps; Sir Cyril Fox's
map of the Jurassic Way in Pattern and Purpose, 1958; and Dobunni territory map. JH compilation.  
The British-made Tisbury brooch, to me, has a distinctly Dobunnic look about at and Dobunnic coins can also be found in the southern counties where the other two MD brooches were found. I had tracked connections between the Dobunni and the Iceni (with perhaps the Corieltuavi  too) but this is the first time I also see their connections with the Arras culture of east Yorkshire. For further reading on this topic with the evidence discussed, XRF analysed and illustrated, see my 32 part Iceni hypothesis series. The Jurassic Way route contains, nearby, many of the greatest examples of Early Celtic Art in Britain with their iconic names of Glastonbury, Meare, Clevedon, Bagendon, Birdlip, Cheltenham, Desborough, Arras. Danes Graves. and more. One might say, "The Dobunni, metalsmiths to the stars".

John's Coydog Community page

Friday, 18 March 2016

Wreck: science and media, conclusion

Poster from (click to enlarge)
"Clearly we are in the midst of one of the great extinction spasms of geological history"
E.O. Wilson

"Once destroyed, slow-growing deep-sea species are either lost forever or unlikely to recover for decades or centuries. Stable, living habitats such as coral and sponge communities in particular tend to be both the most heavily damaged and the slowest to regenerate. To make matters worse, the deep sea's remarkable array of coral, sponge, and other habitat forming species are, in many cases likely to harbour undiscovered and endemic species. The risk of extinguishing whole species never before seen is, therefore, particularly high when bottom trawling strips the surface of seamounts of their coral and sponge habitat."

Bottom Trawling, Deepsea Conservation Coalition

"Shipwrecks become unintended artificial biological reefs associated with concentrations of organisms. Their remains, structures, cannon and artifacts provide surfaces on which algae and hard-bottom fauna, such as kelp, sea anemones and sponges, can develop. Fish are attracted to the artificial reefs in search of food and shelter. The subsequent colonizing biofouling community can strip nutrients and suspended material from passing water and plankton, generating epibenthic production. In turn, this process attracts nectobenthic fish and thus a biological oasis is formed." 
Benthic Species on the Wreck of the Victory (1744), Western English Channel, Odyssey Papers, 43, Odyssey Marine Exploration

Protection of the marine environment is a global issue and the organizations to which I have linked above are but a small sampling of what exists. But what of archaeological interests and practices?
At the outset of the media coverage on HMS Victory there was talk on raising the wreck. subsequent investigation eliminated that possibility because her hull had collapsed through natural agencies including that of marine organisms feeding on the timbers. Man adds to the damage of wrecks through bottom trawling which often drags cannons and other movable components some distance. The concentration of the objects of a wreck creates a biological oasis as the Odyssey paper shows, but as a wreck becomes ever more fragmented through trawler damage and scattering this oasis effect is lessened. Ships are sometimes deliberately sunk instead of being scrapped in order to create new reef environments so that local marine life can prosper.

When responsible divers collect live molluscs for study or for conchology collections, it is their practice when looking under some rock, to then return the rock to its original position. I have a small collection of cowries and those also came with the diver's information slip of where the shell was collected and at what depth. However, shells are also gathered through bottom trawling and this destroys entire populations while also damaging the sea bottom. A diver/shell dealer I knew went to great time and expense to travel to the remotest place on earth, Easter Island, mainly to gather samples of Cypraea Englerti which exists only at that location. He gathered only two of them and I paid him $40 for the one below.

Father Englert's Cowrie
Cypraea Englerti, Summers and Burgess, 1965
27mm,  collected on reef at 40 feet at night
100 yards off Anakena, Easter Island
In all of the media coverage about the possibility of raising the HMS Victory, I did not see anything about what should be left in its place so that the marine biological environment could eventually return. Perhaps the marine equivalent of forestry clear-cutting had been envisioned, instead. How much damage to the sea bottom is acceptable in order to provide people with something to look at in a museum?

But what about the knowledge which could be gained from removing a wreck? In Glenbow Museum here in Calgary is a large scale model of the other HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship. I used to look at it quite often as it was in the same room of the military department where I worked as a cataloguer. Even the knots on the rigging were accurately tied. We know quite a bit about eighteenth century ship construction and you can buy wooden kits of the whole ship, or cutaway sections of varying accuracy and construction difficulty levels.

Odyssey Marine Exploration took on the project of investigating the 1744 wreck because it believed that the gold coins it was reported to have been carrying in its cargo would pay for the considerable expenses of doing so while providing a profit to satisfy its shareholders. Gold coins do not really contribute much to marine life and their value is rather high per cubic centimetre. Science was served through the publication of the paper, and it provided completely new information about that environment.

To tie this series up in a bow, here is another 1744 wreck-inspired paper in the Odyssey Marine Exploration series: Deep-Sea Fishing Impacts on the Shipwrecks of the English Channel & Western Approaches by one of the same authors of the first: Sean A. Kingsley. It was Sean who arranged for the publication of my book on Coriosolite coins with the publishers of British Archaeological Reports after insisting to me that it really should be published in hard copy. He also got me write a corresponding article for Minerva magazine about my research for the book. None of that research would have happened at all had I not bought a lump of corrosion from Seaby in London containing an extremely fine condition Coriosolite stater when I was fifteen years old. Who can say what the purchase of a gold coin from a wreck excavated by Odyssey Marine Exploration might also inspire?

Have an ecologically sound weekend.

John's Coydog Community page

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Wreck: science and media, part one

Peter Monamy, Loss of HMS Victory, 4 October 1745
Yesterday, I was wondering about what had been happening with Odyssey Marine Exploration and the wreck of HMS Victory. Finding two incompatible papers, I decided to look at what lies below, so to speak.

One of the papers, from its title of HMS Victory; the full story so far (2014), offered a complete picture ,but gave only an ideological academic archaeologist perspective about the fate of the wreck, its contents, and the future of such things. The other paper (of the same year) was scientific and focused: Benthic Species on the Wreck of the Victory (1744), Western English Channel by Neil Cunningham Dobson (Odyssey Marine Exploration, Tampa, Florida, USA, Silje-Kristin Jensen (Scottish Oceans Institute, School of Biology, University of St. Andrews, Scotland, UK), and Sean A. Kingsley, (Wreck Watch Int., London, UK). Benthic species refers to the organisms living at the benthic zone ("the ecological region at the lowest level of a body of water such as an ocean or a lake, including the sediment surface and some sub-surface layers").

As ideology and subterfuge are bedfellows, and because the definitions of ecology include both the biological and the political, I thought it might be a good idea to look at the "ecology" of the media history of the story as well as those of the divergent issues. The earliest articles, such as The $1billion shipwreck: Centuries after it sank in the Channel the race is on to raise Victory's goldonce you get past its sensationalist headline, keeps largely to the facts and is marred only slightly by the fact that Robert Balchin, according to a later report, is not a direct descendent of the ship's commander.

Things soon fall apart:
"US treasure hunters ready to snatch gold from the jaws of Victory:
"US treasure hunters should be banned from raising the wreck of one of Britain’s greatest warships and taking some of the millions of pounds of gold coins she is believed to contain, leading archaeologists and descendants of the crew demand today"
"American bounty hunters submit plans to raise gold coins worth hundreds of millions from the wreck of HMS Victory
"In 2008, the wreck was discovered by Odyssey Marine Exploration, 264 years after it sank
"It is believed it could contain gold worth hundreds of millions of pounds and 100 bronze cannon
"Descendants of crew and experts say it could betray those killed to exploit it for commercial gain"
Pandering to anti-American sentiments within British society and manipulatingly using "treasure hunters" and "bounty hunters", the press does what it is best at and incites anger and discrimination.If you look at the url of the second title, the word "Anger" precedes its displayed title in an attempt at subliminal reinforcement.

The scent of blood in the water soon attracts the smiling political sharks to the kill-site (sharks do not really smile, it just looks that way as they start to open their jaws in preparation for an attack):
"Tory Lord defends the treasure hunt for HMS Victory
"Following an astonishing attack in Parliament on the ongoing attempts to raise the lost 18th century warship HMS Victory and lay claim to the rumoured £128 million treasure on board, Conservative peer Lord Lingfield returns the fire in an exclusive interview"
Because I have given you rather a lot to read, and because it is lunch time and I have not even had breakfast yet, I will be back tomorrow to discuss the real issues.

John's Coydog Community page