What does the past mean to you? September preview

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.

Protected landscape, Canary Islands

Protected landscape, Canary Islands

Traditional cooking

Traditional cooking

The Spanish Steps, Rome

The Spanish Steps, Rome

Listed building, Stoke-on-Trent

Listed building, Stoke-on-Trent

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:

  1. What objects from the past do you particularly treasure?
  2. Do you think that some objects from the past are best forgotten?
  3. What intangible pasts (e.g. customs and languages) are meaningful to you?
  4. How is it best to preserve these intangible pasts?
  5. 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.

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