As a non-archaeologist, I was concerned initially about doing something involving archaeology. Can I do archaeology if I’m not an archaeologist? This prompted a series of conversations with archaeologists and non-archaeologists. At some point, I was reminded that I use ‘the past’ in my research, and therefore, wasn’t I using archaeological themes already? Indeed, when one thinks about it, the past is part of so much of our lives – from thinking about what to keep and what to give/throw away when moving house to visiting Rome because of its protected pasts.
So, I ended up thinking about broader questions in relation to ‘the past’: how do people use the past?, what past is important to them?, and how they see the past in the future?
To engage the public, I will be writing letters to a number of relatives, friends and colleagues from different walks of life, located in the UK, Europe and North America to ask them 5 questions:
- What objects from the past do you particularly treasure?
- Do you think that some objects from the past are best forgotten?
- What intangible pasts (e.g. customs and languages) are meaningful to you?
- How is it best to preserve these intangible pasts?
- If we save more and more objects and intangible pasts, is there a danger that there will be too much past in the future?
In September, I will be posting their answers. Near the end of the month, I will provide my own reflections on the answers. I hope that this will prompt some of you to comment and share your own perspectives.