A Small Step Toward Synergy: Fincham’s PAS Article.

Posted on November 19, 2008


It took me a while, but I finally discovered the “download” button on SSRN.  I therefore had the opportunity to read Dr. Derek Fincham’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) article, “A Coordinated Legal and Policy Approach to Undiscovered Antiquities: Adapting the Cultural Heritage Policy of England and Wales to Other Nations of Origin,” from the International Journal of Cultural Property.

If you are interested in potential solutions to the issue of looting, I would recommend reading the article in its entirety.  The author does not advocate for a sudden transition to a PAS system in source nations, but instead evaluates the strength and merits of the PAS, contrasting it with the current system in other nations, including Scotland.  He suggests pilot programs to evaluate whether the benefits that the UK and Wales have experienced could be effectively replicated.  He admits that cost is the largest obstacle to implementing a PAS in source nations, and makes suggestions as to how that obstacle might be surmounted.

The focus of Dr. Fincham’s article, however, is not to advocate for the widespread use of PAS, but instead to present a reasoned appraisal of that system.  From that appraisal, he concludes two aspects of PAS should be widespread: first, that finders of true chance finds must be rewarded to encourage reporting and, second, that educating the public on heritage and context can be effectively pursued through community outreach programs.

In his conclusion, Dr. Fincham rightly comments, “Heritage scholars persisting in polarizing their policy discussions will leave no room for meaningful discourse.”  PAS might not work just anywhere, true enough, but evaluating attempts to systematically and directly confront the plague of looting is a worthwhile effort.  Only through such efforts will heritage enthusiasts of all ilks begin to bridge the gap between dissidence and synergy.

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