The Reconstructed Past, Reconstructions in the Public Interpretation of Archaeology and History

By Lees, William B. | Southeastern Archaeology, Winter 2005 | Go to article overview

The Reconstructed Past, Reconstructions in the Public Interpretation of Archaeology and History


Lees, William B., Southeastern Archaeology


The Reconstructed Past, Reconstructions in the Public Interpretation of Archaeology and History. JOHN H. JAMESON, JR. (ed.). AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 2004. x + 307 pp., biblio., figs., index. $75.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-7591-0375-5; $34.95 (paper), ISBN 0-7591-0376-3.

Reviewed by William B. Lees

Through a collection of 16 essays by leading scholars, editor John H. Jameson Jr. examines "one of the most controversial topics and challenges in historic site management," namely, whether or not to reconstruct. The answer is relative to a wide range of intellectual, political, and cultural factors, and the opinions of key decision makers who probably are not archaeologists. If there is a single lesson from this volume, it may be that "reconstruction happens" regardless of how we may feel about the proposition, and it is up to us to make the most of the opportunity presented.

In his introduction, Jameson sets the stage for the ensuing discussions of reconstruction as a tool for public interpretation and the promotion of heritage tourism. Using a historical perspective, he illustrates the tensions between the intellectual need for accuracy versus the forces that drive reconstructions; between the honesty of preservation versus the complexity, controversy, and cost of reconstruction; and between what is real versus what may be perceived as real by the public.

Part 1, "Definitions and History," begins with an essay by Donald W. Linebaugh tracing the career of self-educated archaeologist Roland Wells Robbins. Robbins conducted numerous excavations with the expressed purpose of informing reconstruction projects. Marley R. Brown III and Edward A. Chappell discuss the relationship between archaeology and reconstruction at Colonial Williamsburg, and Barry Mackintosh discusses the long history of the U.S. National Park Service's reconstruction policy. Each provides a useful perspective on the history of archaeology's service to reconstruction and of the struggle for archaeology to be seen as more than a source of foundation plans and hardware details. The essays by Brown and Chappell and by Mackintosh examine the current direction of reconstruction archaeology for the United States' leading public history programs and begin to frame a finding encountered throughout this volume: reconstructions are essential for the success of many heritage tourism destinations.

Part 2, "Measuring Effectiveness for Interpretation and Site Management," contains valuable case studies dealing with the process of reconstruction. Using the example of George Washington's Blacksmith Shop, Esther C. White illustrates the difficulty of negotiating what type of baseline information is necessary before a reconstruction is determined feasible. Of equal importance is her illustration of the dogged persistence of reconstruction as a desired outcome, even in the face of insufficient data.

Moving to Britain, Harold Mytum shows that despite intellectual issues with the process, the act of reconstruction at Castell Henllys was essential for people to understand and embrace their indigenous Welsh culture; the archaeological site itself was not enough. Peter Fowler and Susan Mills discuss the success of a total creation, using archaeological analogs, of an idealized Early Medieval landscape, also in Britain, underscoring in the process the importance of the reconstruction as an educational tool essential to draw visitors to a heritage tourism location.

Anne E. Killebrew's discussion of a reconstruction project in Israel is interesting on several levels, not the least of which is her acknowledgment that reconstruction planning forces us to recognize just how little we really know about a site's past. Another is the importance of politics in determining what to reconstruct and how it will be interpreted.

In a discussion of the Iroquoian Longhouse of North America, Ronald F. Williamson provides an important illustration of our tendencies to place too much importance on things that may ultimately be unknowable. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Reconstructed Past, Reconstructions in the Public Interpretation of Archaeology and History
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.