Thursday, April 15, 2010

Are Coin Archaeological Artifacts?

Many coin dealers maintain that coins shouldn't be considered archaeological artifacts. Anyone who is on the fence about whether or not to believe that should read this article:

Pay particular attention to the part that says:

The archaeologists also found a gold relief showing the four sons of the Egyptian god Horus, other plaster masks of women's faces, several glass and clay utensils and some metal coins.

The metal coins are being checked to see whether they can date the era of the tomb more precisely.

Those coins, found in context, are being used to help date a unique site. What knowledge would have been lost if someone with a metal detector had gotten there first and yanked those coins out of the ground? What other damage would have been done to the site in the process?

How can anyone read that article and not agree that coins are indeed archaeological artifacts, deserving of the same protection and subject to the same restrictions?

1 comment:

Paul Barford said...

It is notable that irresponsible US collectors of ancient coins are trying their hardest to stave off the day when they will actually take responsibility for the effects of their actions.

To do this however they rely on a play on words. They claim that the ancient coins they collect - while ancient artefacts - are not "archaeological artefacts" per se , though they claim that both in their typology and context (hoards) they can provide valuable information about the past.

Many of them advocate the Portable Antiquities Scheme of Britain as a way forward for collaboration between collectors and archaeologists, but fail to note that it makes no distiction between coins and other types of archaeological artefacts.

The position of collectors and dealers is simply illogical. They are simply deceiving themselves.

Coins are, I know from personal experience, found on archaeological sites, coin hoards are not all found in the middle of deserted fields as dealers assert, but in and around buildings where their owners could keep an eye on them.

In short, it is clear that irresponsible US ancient coin collectors and dealers are trying to deceive the real stakeholders, the public, as to what they are really up to.