Rational Grounds for Dialogue Between Archaeologists and Metal Detectorists in Spain

Ignacio Rodríguez Temiño 1
  • 1 Junta de Andalucía, Seville, Spain


The sudden emergence of metal-detector users and subsequent swelling of their numbers rocked the field of professional archaeology due to the impact that the use of metal detectors has on the conservation of archaeological heritage. The situation has led to confrontation, polarisation and mistrust on both sides. These problems are particularly severe in countries such as Spain, where the law does not allow the unauthorised use of these devices. However, merely enforcing the law is not enough to resolve such conflicts, just as encouraging ‘treasure hunting’ is no solution either. This paper uses sociological models to explain the lack of communication and distance between the two groups with a view to finding principles that can be used to establish rational grounds for communication. Here ‘rational grounds’ is understood to mean foundations that will enable the convergence of the different interests whilst at the same time respecting the social function of archaeological heritage. To this end, a model is suggested based on a new wave of scientific communication aimed at including detectorists in archaeological research projects.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Addyman, P. V. (2009). Before the Portable Antiquities Scheme. In S. Thomas & P. G. Stone (Eds.), Metal Detecting & Archaeology. (pp. 51-62). Newcastle: Newcastle University.

  • Almansa Sánchez, J. (Ed.) (2013). Arqueología Pública en España. Madrid: JAS Arqueología SLU.

  • Alonso Ibáñez, M. R. (1992). El patrimonio histórico. Destino Público y valor cultural. Madrid: Civitas.

  • Bland, R. (2004). The Treasure Act and the Portable Antiquities scheme: a case study in developing public archaeology. In N. Merriman (Ed.), Public archaeology (pp. 272-291). London: Routledge.

  • Bobbio, N. (1985). El poder y el derecho. In N. Bobbio & M. Bovero. Origen y fundamento del poder político (pp. 19-36). Mexico D. F.: Grijalbo.

  • Cleere, H. (1993). Managing the archaeological heritage, Antiquity, 67, 400-402.

  • Cortés Ruiz, A. (2002). Actuaciones policiales contra expolios arqueológicos. In La protección del patrimonio arqueológico contra el expolio. (pp. 61-78). Sevilla: Junta de Andalucía.

  • Deckers, P. (2013). The past, present and future of amateur archaeological metal detecting in Flanders. In Forum: The looting of archaeological heritage (Part I - Beyond metal detectors: around the plundering of archaeological heritage). AP Journal, 3, 13-17.

  • Dobat, A. S. (2013). Between Rescue and Research: An Evaluation after 30 Years of Liberal Metal Detecting in Archaeological Research and Heritage Practice in Denmark, European Journal of Archaeology, 16(4), 704–725.

  • Dromgoole, S. (2004). Murky waters for government policy: the case of a 17th century British warship and 10 tonnes of gold coins. Marine Policy, 28, (3), 189–198 (doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2003.08.006).

  • Ferguson, N. (2013). Biting the bullet: the role of hobbyist metal detecting within battlefield archaeology. Internet Archaeology, 33 (http://dx.doi.org/10.11141/ia.33.3).

  • Gill, D. W. J. (2010). The Portable Antiquities Scheme and the Treasure Act: Protecting the Archeology of England and Wales?. Papers from the Institute of Archaeology, 20, 1-11.

  • Gómez López, A. B. (2014). Fondo documental asociado al Farmm. In Fondo Arqueológico Ricardo Marsal Monzón. (pp. 67-84). Sevilla: Junta de Andalucía.

  • Graham, D. (2004). To change the law: the story behind the Treasure Act 1996. Surrey Archaeological Collections, 91, 307-314. Habermas, J. (1987). Teoría de la acción comunicativa. Cátedra: Madrid.

  • Hanworth, R. (1995). Treasure Trove: new approaches to antiquities legislation. In K. W. Tubb (Ed.), Antiquities, Trade or Betrayed: Legal, Ethical and Conservation Issues (pp. 173-175). London: Archetype Publications.

  • Henson, D. (2011). Does archaeology matter? In G. Moshenska and S. Dhanjal (Eds.), Community Archaeology: Theory, methods and practices (pp. 120-127). Oxford: Oxbow Books.

  • Karl, R (2011). On the Highway to Hell: Thoughts on Unintended Consequences for Portable Antiquities of § 11(1) Austrian Denkmalschutzgesetz. The Historic Environment: Policy & Practice, 2 (2), 111-133.

  • Lambrick, G. (2002). Council for British Archaeology slams government treasure hunt, press release issued 8 October 2002, http://www.britarch.ac.uk/conserve/sussexpr.html (accessed 18 September 2007).

  • Lewenstein, B. V. (2003). Models of Public Communication of Science & Technology, http://www.somedicyt.org.mx/assets/ hemerobiblioteca/articulos/Lewenstein_Models_of_communication.pdf (visited 12th December 2012).

  • Lyotard, J.‑F. (1979). La Condition Postmoderne: Rapport Sur Le Savoir. Paris: Editions de Minuits.

  • Merriman, N. (1989). The social basis of museum and heritage visiting. In S. M. Pearce (Ed.), Museum Studies in Material Culture (pp. 172-179). Leicester: Leicester University Press.

  • Merriman, N. (2004). Introduction. Diversity and dissonance in public archaeology. In N. Merriman (Ed.), Public Archaeology (pp. 1-17). London: Routledge.

  • Morales Bravo de Laguna, J. (2015). La Guardia Civil y la lucha contra el expolio arqueológico. Cuadernos de Prehistoria y Arqueología de la Universidad de Granada, 25, 26-44.

  • Muñoz Reyes, A. M., Rodrigo Cámara, J. M. & Fernández Cacho, S. (2004). Los datos a examen: estadística e índice de perdurabilidad de los sitios arqueológicos andaluces, PH. Boletín del Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico, 49, 72-79.

  • Oxford Archaeological Unit (2009). Nighthawks and Nighthawling: Damage to Archaeological Sites in the United Kingdom and Crown Dependencies Caused by the Illegal Search for and Removal of Antiquities. Final Report. Oxford: Oxford Archaeological Unit.

  • Querol Fernández, M. A. (2010). Manual de gestión del Patrimonio Cultural. Madrid: Akal.

  • Querol Fernández, M. Á., Martínez Navarrete, M. I., Hernández Hernández, F., Cerdeño Serrano, L. & Antona Val, V. (1995). The value of archaeological heritage: an analysis by the Professional Association of Spanish Archaeologists (APAE). Journal of European Archaeology, 3 (1), 233-247.

  • Rahtz, P. (1974). Volunteers. In P. Rahtz (Ed.), Rescue Archaeology. (pp. 274-279). Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd.

  • Relaño, A. Tesoros para jornaleros sin tajo [Treasures for jobless day-labourers]. El País 11th September 1983, 22.

  • Rodríguez Temiño, I. (2004). Arqueología urbana en España. Barcelona: Ariel.

  • Rodríguez Temiño, I. (2012). Indianas jones sin futuro. La lucha contra el expolio del patrimonio arqueológico. Madrid: JAS Arqueología SLU.

  • Rodríguez Temiño, I., & Matas Adamuz, F. J. (2013). Arqueólogos contra «piteros», «piteros» contra arqueólogos. In J. Almansa Sánchez (Ed.), Arqueología Pública en España. (pp. 187-218). Madrid: JAS Arqueología Editorial.

  • Rodríguez Temiño, I & Roma Valdés, A. (2015). Fighting against the archaeological looting and the illicit trade of antiquities in Spain. International Journal of Cultural Property, 22 (1), 111-130.

  • Ruíz Rodríguez, A. (2015). La Protohistoria en el Farmm. In Fondo Arqueológico Ricardo Marsal Monzón. (pp. 119-130). Sevilla: Junta de Andalucía.

  • Spencer, P. D. (2009). The Construction of Histories: Numismatics and Metal Detecting. In S. Thomas & P. G. Stone (Eds.), Metal Detecting & Archaeology. (pp. 125-136). Newcastle: Newcastle University.

  • Thomas, S., Wessman, A., Siltainsuu, J. & Perttola, W. (2015). Understanding metal detecting and archaeology in Finland. Cuadernos de Prehistoria y Arqueología de la Universidad de Granada, 25, 187-199.

  • Trilla Bernet, J. (2003). La educación fuera de la escuela. Ámbitos no formales y educación social. Barcelona: Ariel.

  • Ulst, I. (2013). Combating Illicit Metal Detecting in Estonia. In Forum: The looting of archaeological heritage (Part I - Beyond metal detectors: around the plundering of archaeological heritage). AP Journal, 3, 21-28.

  • Waterton, E. & Smith, L. (2010). The recognition and misrecognition of community heritage. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 16, (1-2), 4-15.

  • Willems, W. J. H. (2007). The work of making Malta: the Council of Europe’s archaeology and planning committee 1988-1996. European Journal of Archaeology, 10, (1), 57-71.

  • Yáñez Vega, A. (2015). Actividades ilícitas contra el patrimonio arqueológico: sistemas punitivos penal y administrative. Cuadernos de Prehistoria y Arqueología de la Universidad de Granada, 25, 13-30.


Journal + Issues