Susan Piddock wonders:
> about other sites around the world where there might be a conflict
> between a romanticized past and the reality revealed by
Surely this problem is a fairly general one, and also a complex one, since
it involves at least two aspects: the ideas the public has when it comes
into contact with that past and secondly the way we present them with a
relatively coherent picture out of the mass of data we have to synthesise.
Any attempt however to show "the way it was" by choice of a particular
manner of exhibiting the remains is likely of course to present the same
kind of problems (when is a "romaniticized past" not a "romanticized
past"?). Who decides on what is the "correct" balance between the "idyllic"
vision and the "grim realities" vision in the presentation of any site?
Between presenting the site as "the past as pretty ruins to look at" and
"the original function, form and significance of the structures of which
these are the ruins to learn about/from"?
Of course not all archaeologists see this as a bad thing, Zbigniew
Kobylinski the former chief archaeologist of Poland - where formerly
state-funded archaeology has experienced severe cash cuts since the collapse
of Communism - wrote not long ago in a programatic article ('Protection of
the European archaeological heritage: current problems and perspectives',
Archaeologia Polona 38, 33-42) "following economic success we can however
turn our discipline into a series of purely commercial events, as
archaeological festivals, fairs and street markets. How to find the balance
between research and popular presentation is again a serious and mostly
In the same volume is an article by Marion Blockley ('The social context for
archaeological reconstructions in England, Germany and Scandinavia',
Archaeologia Polona 38, 43-68) which might be helpful if you can get hold
of it in Adelaide. Parts of it touch on the problem you raise. There is a
wide awareness of this problem in archaeology, but I wonder to what extent
it is reflected in the literature?