research

Pseudo-archaeology: The Appropriation and Commercialization of Cultural Heritage

Abstract

Heritage can be defined as the use of the past to construct ideas about identity in the present. The past that this definition references is most commonly linked to tangible objects, and therefore archaeological artifacts. As such, archaeology becomes inexorably linked with cultural heritage in that many cultures are dependent on archaeological objects helping them continue to define their identity. However, there are various threats to cultural heritage, especially as more groups of peoples attempt to evoke objects as belonging to their own cultural background. This has been happening throughout history, but in the nineteenth-century pseudo-archaeology became a new threat. Pseudoarchaeology does not fall in line with academic archaeology and often attempts to appropriate or commercialize heritage to ends that are not scientific or beneficial to the conservation of heritage. Williams argues, “…pseudo-archaeology [is] one of the two greatest challenges to contemporary archaeologists- the other being the destruction of archaeological remains” (Williams 1991: 08). Merely placing pseudo-archaeology on the same level as the actual destruction of tangible heritage shows the threat the adherence to such practices imposes. In this paper, I explore the popularity of pseudo-archaeology that has emerged from several different factors, including nationalism to populism (the way pseudo-archaeology attempts to simplify archaeology for the masses). This popularity poses a threat to cultural heritage by way of appropriation and commercialization

    Similar works