The Archaeology Coursebook: An Introduction to Study Skills, Topics and Methods

By Jim Grant; Sam Gorin et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

Presenting the Past

YOUR GOALS

You need to

understand some of the political and ethical debates about ownership and presentation of the past

have a knowledge of a range of methods of communicating archaeological understanding

know some case studies in depth to use as examples

be able to critically assess the merits of different modes of communication.


WHICH PAST?

Before considering how archaeological remains and knowledge might be best communicated it is worth reflecting on what the social and cultural implications of explanations about the past might be. Archaeological knowledge and the images of the past created by archaeologists are not value free. As with history and literature, the selection of what is significant and how it should be interpreted partly derives from the political and social values and structures in present-day society. Archaeology and history have in turn been used either consciously or unconsciously to justify present-day values and social structures.


The political use of archaeology

Extreme cases are fairly easy to identify. Recent centuries have seen a succession of rulers who have sought to justify their regimes and their territorial ambitions by claiming precedent from the past. Mussolini, the Fascist dictator of Italy (1922-45) claimed to be following in the footsteps of the Romans with his plans to establish an Italian empire in Africa and to turn the Mediterranean into an Italian lake (Mare Nostrum). Saddam Hussein in Iraq has drawn parallels between his regime and the ancient civilisation of Babylon, which dominated the region in the second millennium BC. Israel, Bosnia and the Indian city of Ayodhya are three of many places where archaeology is

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The Archaeology Coursebook: An Introduction to Study Skills, Topics and Methods
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Brief Contents v
  • Contents vii
  • Figures xix
  • Index of Skills xxii
  • Acknowledgements xxiii
  • Illustration Acknowledgements xxiv
  • Introduction xxv
  • Part One - Understanding Archaeological Resources 1
  • Chapter 1 3
  • Chapter 2 25
  • Chapter 3 58
  • Chapter 4 80
  • Chapter 5 93
  • Chapter 6 105
  • Chapter 7 120
  • Part Two - Studying Themes in Archaeology 135
  • Chapter 8 137
  • Chapter 9 165
  • Chapter 10 196
  • Chapter 11 236
  • Part Three - Examination Success and Beyond 259
  • Chapter 12 261
  • Chapter 13 283
  • Chapter 14 - Where to Next? 296
  • Chapter 15 - Finding the Best Information 301
  • Appendix 305
  • Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations 307
  • Bibliography 315
  • Index 319
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