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The Humanities Conference 2003

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“Does Archaeology have a meaning if it does not Benefit Society?”: Considering the Public in Heritage Management

Konstantina Liwieratos.

“Tourism is an irreversible social, human, economic and cultural fact. Its influence in the sphere of monuments and sites is particularly important and can but increase because of the known conditions of that activity’s development” (The ICOMOS Charter on Cultural Tourism, Article 1).
Most sites and museums in the past had been constructed without considering the mass growth of visitors. Now the irreversible and constantly developing tourism industry is a fact, specialists like archaeologists, conservators, directors of sites and museums and heritage managers should stop arguing against quests as a threat to conservation. Visitors have become a reality; the issue now is how to manage the phenomenon.
In the past years much has been written about the phenomenon and how we should deal with it in order to conserve heritage. In most cases the approach was towards restricting public and creating techniques to minimize damage from their visits. This concern has been and still remains extremely useful and needs to be more developed inventing tools and methods for the protection of monuments and sites from the flows of visiting people. Careful and innovative management could balance out the positive experience of the visitors and the good maintenance of heritage.
Modern management aiming to balance both needs does not only require surveys and techniques; it is a matter of ideological standpoint as well. For successful results a manager should be positive towards visitors in the first place. She or he should perceive visits as the fundamental right of the public. Cultural heritage has been created from people and for people. It belongs to them; specialists are only the experts to discover, excavate, publish, conserve and present/interpret heritage for the public. They are the mediators between societies of the past and the present.
If we start from this viewpoint we can develop a completely different relation to the public. They won’t be conceived as a threat anymore; the aim would be to understand their needs, learn about their willingness to participate in projects and to support financially conservation and create solutions which would be positive for both: visitors and conservation. I am convinced that it would be possible to reverse visitors from a threat to monuments to a positive factor to conservation by involving them directly or indirectly in relevant projects.


Konstantina Liwieratos  (Greece)
PhD Researcher
Institute of Archaeology, University College London

BA in Phylology, Athens/
BA in Archaeology, Athens and Rome/
Licenced Tour Guide
PhD in Management of Cultural Heritage/
working experience as a guide, archaeologist, consultant in EU projects.

  • Heritage Management
  • Rights of the Public
  • Role of Experts

(30 min Conference Paper, English)