Negotiating the Past in the Present: Italian Prehistory, Civic Museums, and Curatorial Practice in Emilia-Romagna, Italy
The latter half of the nineteenth century witnessed the establishment of prehistoric archaeology as a scientific discipline in Italy, as well as the founding of the Italian nation state. Evolutionism, positivism, and a sense of national identity informed prehistoric research and the activities of individuals, such as Strobel, Pigorini, and Chierici, who are regarded today as the founding fathers of Italian prehistory. It is in this dynamic cultural and political climate that the civic museums of Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna were created, both as a response to intense local archaeological activity and in reaction to the centralizing structure of the newly formed kingdom of Italy. These civic museums were among the first museums of prehistory in Italy and the products of the cultural and political climate of late nineteenth-century Europe. This article explores the circumstances surrounding the foundation of these museums and considers how the work of the first prehistorians and the museums’ own histories, as civic and cultural institutions, continues to affect their role and management in the present.
War Crime or Elite Burial: Interpretations of Human Skeletons Within the Late La Tene Settlement Basel-Gasfabrik, Basel, Switzerland
The case study presents completely different interpretations of the same archaeological evidence. Reasons for that are not only the state of knowledge and the possibilities of research, but also the impact of changes in the socio-political climate and varying theoretical traditions. The examples are taken from the Late La Tène settlement Basel-Gasfabrik, which has been excavated for almost 100 years. The study focuses on a number of more or less complete human skeletons from sunken features inside the settlement. This phenomenon prompted the archaeologists to find explanations for this apparent exception to the ancient rule of burying the dead outside the settlements. The interpretations of this ‘abnormal’ burial practice range from victims of war to burials of the members of the élite. The discussion continues on the basis of the synopsis of all verifiable options of dealing with the dead and includes evidence from similar sites elsewhere.
This article aims to provide an interpretation of the structure and spatial patterning of the non-ceramic refuse from the Neolithic site of Bylany. The data are considered at three levels: tackling questions of refuse management and deposition in the vicinity of houses; the spatial distribution of refuse within the settlement area as a whole; and the quantity and structure of non-ceramic refuse from a long-term settlement perspective. The analysed assemblage of non-ceramic finds is divided into five categories: chipped stone, polished stone, whetstones, manos/metates, and other stones without use-wear traces. The analysis is based on GIS and multivariate statistics. The spatial distribution and quantity of refuse are analysed with respect to space (in terms of proximity to Neolithic houses and the whole of the excavated settlement area) and time (the duration of settlement in six chronological stages). No deliberate pattern of refuse management was identified in the vicinity of the houses, but the refuse was found to have a tendency towards peripheral grouping within the settled area as a whole. Refuse quantity depends on the number of houses and settlement duration. The negative correlation between the mean density of non-ceramic artefacts per house and the number of houses in corresponding chronological stages may be explained by the interpretation that refuse was commonly deposited within abandoned houses, which would be consistent with ethnoarchaeological observations.
Discourses of Nature Conservation and Heritage Management in the Past, Present and Future: Discussing Heritage and Sustainable Development From Swedish Experiences
The relationship between heritage management and nature conservation in Sweden has changed over time, from an earlier division between the two sectors — with nature conservation attached to the growing movement of environmental politics — towards more integrated ways of working under the umbrella of sustainable development. As forests have been associated with nature, the earlier divide has been more evident with forested areas than agricultural areas, a view that has contributed to the marginalization of such landscapes and their inhabitants. With the more integrated policy, heritage management is drawn into the societal discourse of ecological modernization, where environmental and sustainability issues have become new business ideas and sources of further economic growth. From an ecological modernization perspective, nature and cultural heritage are today (touristic) commodities, enforcing the power of the urban world over the rural world and thus risk contributing to further marginalization of the inhabitants. However, heritage sites appear to function as boundary objects in local communities, and may thus function as meeting places and sources of enhancement of community pride. Therefore, we argue for community participation and public communication within the heritage sector, especially concerning marginalized, forested landscapes in order to contribute to an increased knowledge and understanding of the local heritage and history, thus opening the way for creative local processes.
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