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Dr Michael Lewis: Treasuring the Past – when is a ‘treasure’ Treasure? – Mon 23 May 2022

Dr Michael Lewis: Treasuring the Past – when is a ‘treasure’ Treasure?
Monday 23 May, 4:30pm
Free online Talk / Streamed live on YouTube and Facebook
Prof Michael Lewis (British Museum)

‘Treasure’ is an emotive word with a variety of meanings. Under the Treasure Act 1996, ‘Treasure’ is clearly defined, but not all items we might consider ‘treasure’ are actually Treasure, and some Treasure (under the legal definition) might not seem like it to most people. In this talk, Michael Lewis, Head of Portable Antiquities & Treasure at the British Museum, will highlight how our understanding of Treasure has evolved, and why some archaeological finds are protected by law and others are not. He will explore a number of finds to make the point, including the Ryedale Hoard.

This will also be an opportunity to hear about the workings of the Treasure Act 1996 and the work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) which supports it. Also to think about why some items are acquired by museum and others (the majority in fact) are not. And what happens to those that museums cannot or do not acquire for their collections. Should this material be sold of to the highest buyer, or do these finds belong to us all (in a moral sense at least)?

The Government is looking to reform Treasure law to ‘capture’ items of ‘archaeological significance’ not currently protected. This offers an opportunity for us to think about why do museums acquire finds, what they should be, and what are the practical limitations to museums acquiring more and more archaeological finds.


Event details


Monday 23 May 2022, 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm



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