Meaningful pasts: Post #10

1. What objects from the past do you particularly treasure?

I believe all objects from the past are important. The older the more precious as the farther away we are distanced in time with the “time” of the object in question, the lesser we usually know about that time. This being said, anything that is Roman (8th century BC to the 5th AD) has a particular resonance in me. I can’t explain it, but my inner self just vibrates in the mere presence of such an object. This can be a brooch, a coin or a piece of a sword. I have a particular attraction for Greco-roman mosaics for their beauty, but more so for what is represented. Whether it is a real life scene or an idealized or religious one, it remains a polaroid shot from ancient times.

2. Do you think that some objects from the past are best forgotten?

Absolutely not. As an historian, it is my opinion that all must be remembered. The good as well as the bad. Too many mistakes are repeated again and again because we forget what the risks are when one is “playing with fire” (i.e. giving absolute political/military power to one or a restricted number of individuals, entertaining extreme political ideas, tolerating religious extremism, etc.). If there was only one contribution history was permitted to make to justify its existence, it would be just that: the endless struggle to remind people about their past. All of it.

3. What intangible pasts (e.g. customs and languages) are meaningful to you?

Besides what people cooked and ate, the evolution of artwork and architectural evolution/discoveries are things that I find fascinating. How wars and battles were fought in Antiquity is still intriguing me after thirty years of studying it. Thanks to archeological finds, new theories are still being put forward.

4. How is it best to preserve these intangible pasts?

Education and accessible museums. There is also folklore and living history, such as historically conformed re-enacting groups. We must encourage the youth to read more non-fiction books instead of fiction/romance novels (education and good parenting).

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 theory, perhaps, although I have serious doubts. I believe the question may be moot. Archeology and museums cost a lot of money and because these are the first areas our illustrious leaders cut budgets for when the going gets rough, it will likely never happen. Furthermore, there are countless objects found that have yet to be analyzed that rest in the basements of museums because of lack of funds to study and care for them. Unfortunately, the thing that matters to those who hold the purses (government or private) is Profit, not the past.

Male, 40s, public servant

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