28 February 2012

Metal Detecting Post #63 - "Diggers"

According to the website . . .

". . . the new show promises to be a very formal and painfully educational program about careful digging techniques and artifact preservation, narrated meticulously in a serious monotone by a ninety-three year old man sitting in a fancy red-velvet Queen Ann chair. There will be no spontaneous licking of coins, rings, worms, bugs, or half-dead marine life. There will be no gunplay, dangerous stunts, immediate and confident misidentification of historical finds, careless injuries, taunting of aggressive miniature horses, or shenanigans of any kind. There will be nothing of the sort."

One of the detectors these fellas will be using is the AT Pro. I own the same unit and it is what I used in these two videos. River Adventure Part 1 and River Adventure Part 2


Anonymous said...

Hi Richard,

I thought you might be interested in seeing this: http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-spike-tv-from-looting-our-collective-past#


Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

I think the link is full of garbage. The comments are so typical of academic snobs - in this case archeologists - who did nothing but read a promo and start in with their holier than thou, ignorant comments. Savage is a respected expert in his field and focuses on those trying to pass off fake relics to unsuspecting buyers.

The page and comments are so full of half-truths and misinformation, that I started to reject your comment. I'll assume you're misinformed as well so I took the opportunity to provide another side to the propaganda contained on the page from your link.

First of all, these digs are done on private land with the landowner's permission. It's none of the petitioner's and critics business. Butt out and get back to work, you're probably being paid by taxpayers. Secondly, the overwhelming majority of relic hunters obey applicable laws and have great reverence for history and these relics they find, keeping detailed records of when and where they recover an item. Thirdly, most of these relics and sites would never be touched by archeologists - there's just too many of them and not high on their list of priorities. If metal detectorists didn't recover them, they'd stay in the ground corroding and be lost forever. Is that preferable? Fourthly, most relic hunters don't sell their finds, though some do occasionally. I've never sold anything I've found. Fifth, if you'll do the research, you'll discover that most of the books identifying WBTS relics including buttons, weaponry, buckles, etc. have been written by relic hunters and metal detectorists. Archeologists would be less informed on these topics were it not for the hard work and research of these individuals. Sixth, many archeological digs now employ the services of metal detectorists, such as the efforts underway at Montpelier. Seventh, don't archeologists get paid for their work? Why should they object to relic hunters selling what they find on private property if they so choose. Sounds rather elitist to me.

Thanks for providing me with the opportunity to educate my readers.

Kevin said...


Take it easy. I honestly know nothing about the practice and culture of metal detecting. I simply noticed it and in light of your post thought to pass it on. To be honest, I didn't even read much of it. Please don't take this as any kind of endorsement of the petition. My goal was not to ruin your day.


Dr. John Gillian said...

Mr. Williams. Why do you constantly feel the need to rage against academics? And may I ask what university did you graduate from?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Sorry Kevin - I'm on a short fuse today and have consumed large amounts of caffeine. Your timing was not good. As with any vocation or avocation, you do have your rogues who tend to tarnish the reputation of others. But those folks are in the minority among relic hunters.

I'll also add that many relic hunters and collectors eventually donate their recoveries to museums. George Whiting, who lives near Lexington and is in his 90's, started relic hunting in the 1950's with a surplus WWII detector. He's good friends with Keith Gibson. He's donated a number of artifacts to VMI. The late Tom Dickey, another well-known detectorist, contributed volumes of knowledge about CW ordnance to the public:

"Collecting was only part of Dickey's contribution. As a military historian, his research and careful documentation of each type of projectile eventually found its way into three books, which became the standard references for collectors and historians today. He was the first collector to classify hundreds of Confederate and Union projectiles, along with their many variations. That effort has earned him the reputation as the "father" of Civil War artillery projectile collecting. The projectiles on display in the Atlanta History Center are a silent testimony and memory to the personal efforts and dedication of one man and his quest to rediscover a time, its artifacts, its lost secrets, and its meaning."

If you'll notice, a good number of artifacts in the various museums around Virginia have been dug by relic hunters. The folks on that link have absolutely no idea what they're talking about.

Our knowledge of history would be sorely lacking were it not for the work of these "amateur" archeologists and collectors. They should be encouraged and praised, not trashed as they were on that link.

Thanks for commenting.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Dr. Gillian:

The tone of your question should give some indication as to why I "rage against academics."

I am a proud college drop out, like Bill Gates, Peter Jennings, Shelby Foote, and Rush Limbaugh - all who did quite well w/out the assistance of a college degree, wouldn't you agree?

My education and training beyond college is highly technical in the legal and financial field. I do hold professional technical designations in those fields, if that's important to you. Many of the classes I sat through for those designations were taught by University level professors, others by leading professional in the field. I certainly value education. My wife and I homeschooled 4 of our six children - which takes quite a commitment to education. I have a daughter who has a degree in elementary education and is certified by the Commonwealth of Virginia to teach in public schools. She chooses, instead, to teach her 4 daughters at home. I have another daughter who teaches in a private school. The remainder of my married children teach their children at home. Again, we all believe very much in education. We just don't think academia has all (or even most) of the correct answers and ways to accomplish it.

Are you suggesting academia is above criticism? My "raging" is usually defensive in nature. Actually, I love learning and realize that working in academia is quite rewarding. Think of my criticism as tough love. Thanks for commenting.

Kevin said...

I know the feeling. I'll take your word for it on this one given that I know how passionate you are about relic hunting and the preservation of your local heritage.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Kevin - BTW, in addition to the more hobby oriented relic publications, I also subscribe to some scholarly journals which focus on relics and artifacts, including National Geographic and Archeology. But I'm by no means unique among relic hunters. Many of us take it quite seriously, though we do have a lot of fun at the same time. It's a very rewarding pass time.

Dr. John Gillian said...

You are comparing yourself to Bill Gates, Peter Jennings, Shelby Foote, and Rush Limbaugh? That's all I need to know. Thank you.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

"You are comparing yourself to Bill Gates, Peter Jennings, Shelby Foote, and Rush Limbaugh? That's all I need to know. Thank you."

Oh brother. There you go folks - anything else need be said? Wow. Maybe I should have just answered his original "rage" question with: "Because they are the focus of evil in the civilized world." ;o)

No, I'm not as rich as Bill Gates, nor as good a writer as Shelby Foote, nor as witty as Rush Limbaugh, nor as biased as Peter Jennings.

The good Dr. purposely took my illustration out of context - not a comparison, just a means of illustration - and boogied out. I guess he felt he was out of his league.

13thBama said...

Now Richard. The man is a doctor! Kneel down and kiss his ring like a good serf!

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

13B - I don't care if he feels the need to let everyone know he's a doctor - whatever. What is more enlightening is what he implies in his question - "You're not qualified to criticize since you don't have a degree." Right Mr. Howell.

He's fresh out of the cookie-cutter, isn't he?