Cinzia Dal Maso Center for Public Archaeology Studies ‘Archeostorie’, ,
Luca Peyronel Università degli Studi di Milano, ,
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Dal Maso, C., Peyronel, L. 2018. Editorial. Archeostorie. Journal of Public Archaeology. 2: pp. 7-10. DOI:

CC BY 4.0 © The author(s). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The topic of this year’s issue of Archeostorie. Journal of Public Archaeology is entitled The Sublime Triangle. Archaeology, Sustainable Tourism & Development. In geometry, a sublime triangle is an isosceles triangle in which the duplicated side is in the golden ratio to the distinct side. Is it possible to imagine a golden ratio between sustainable tourism and development, in relation to archaeology? Is it possible to combine the safeguarding of archaeological areas and the environment, with the demands of the tourism industry, while promoting sustainable economic and social development?

When the call for papers was launched in 2017 the United Nations 70th General Assembly designated that year the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development ( and several initiatives, debates and conferences reflecting on the socio-economic impact of sustainable tourism and the benefits of policies for the development of cultural heritage fruition at a global and local scale were carried out. On a global scale, cultural tourism is indeed a critical share of the overall tourism industry. Recent studies have confirmed that this trend, if managed sustainably, can be beneficial to both local communities and the preservation of the physical and cultural environment. The global tourism industry currently moves 1,3 billion people, and the World Tourism Organization reports that in 2030 tourists will be almost two billion. In 2017, the business volume of tourism- 1,6 trillion US dollars in export earnings – equalled and even surpassed that of oil exports, food products or automobiles. The situation is clearly diversified by countries and results are also mixed across destinations. But even in the MENA countries (North Africa and the Near East) strongly affected by conflicts and political crisis, a 13% increase of incomings indicates the continued recovery of the sector. Several countries rebound robustly (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Oman), although others (Syria and Libya) are of course still completely cut off from the international tourism flow.

One of the five key areas in which the role of tourism may have positive effects according to the #IY2017 relates to cultural values, diversity and heritage. Does it mean that the knowledge of tangible and intangible heritage can be diffused by cultural tourism according to principles of sustainability? It should also be remembered that 2018 has been declared the European Year of Cultural Heritage by the European Union with the official slogan “Our Heritage: where the past meets the future”, stressing the indissoluble link between physical traces of the past and the communities and ‘landscapes’.

In this sense, the recent debate carried out especially by sociologists and anthropologists about the dynamic and changing relationship of global vs. local contexts of interaction (including the variety of on-line spaces) has shifted from economic to cultural issues, while this important topic only begins to be considered by historians and archaeologists dealing with the public/s.

The Framework Convention of the European Council, signed at Faro in Portugal in 2005, namely the Faro Convention, recognizes “that rights relating to cultural heritage are inherent in the right to participate in cultural life, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Art. 27)” and that these rights “are balanced by individual and collective responsibilities towards cultural heritage, to respect and protect the cultural heritage and the cultural memory of other groups”. The introduction at Art. 2 of the definition of ‘heritage community’, consisting of “people who value specific aspects of cultural heritage which they wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit to future generations”. So, according to the Faro Convention responsibility towards cultural heritage is not the exclusive domain of experts and it should also be exercised by individuals and by heritage communities. This ‘democratic’ participation has a direct consequence on the traditional approach of material evidence’s enhancement, and also change the role of people from a passive touristic ‘consumption’ of cultural heritage to participative action. In this context, we should also keep in mind the general shift from the top-down fruition of cultural products to bottom-up hybrid user-generated contents characterizing the globalized world and liquid modern societies. This is a risk and an opportunity at the same time. The risk is of course the decrease of scientific reliability, the over-simplification of contents, the lack of recognizable sources, that we’ve got used to see too often on the web. But if we assume the role of cultural mediator in the process the results can be completely different. The positive function of ‘prosumers’ is increasingly important in many museums and crowdsourcing is adopted for public engagement and participative development of digital humanities. And in the tourism experience model the modes of experiencing from pleasure to discovery, from exploration to knowledge seeking, are all incorporating the need of the subject to participate and establish a direct and personal relation with the heritage resources, that is in our context, archaeological heritage and the meanings attached to them. But at the same time we also need to take into account that entanglement is the more common reaction to social, political and economic crisis in the modern global world, with the consequent detachment of individuals from a community and from any kind of relation with the territory, including heritage with the loss of cultural identity.

In this respect, the relationship between cultural heritage, sustainable tourism, and socio-economic development still needs to be examined in depth. How to promote comprehensive stakeholders’ engagement in the planning, development and management of sustainable tourism in archaeological areas? What kind of policies, strategies, frameworks and tools should be advocated in order to support sustainable tourism? How to provide stakeholders with the capacity and the tools to manage tourism efficiently, responsibly and sustainably, based on the local context and needs? How can we promote high-quality archaeology tourism?

One could say that all these questions cannot be addressed to archaeologists and especially to those field archaeologists who are often already involved in the protection and conservation of the archaeological sites they dig. On the contrary, we think that a discussion on this crucial aspects of the socio-political role of archaeology is very important and deserves serious consideration on the part of archaeologists, especially those working in countries where on the one hand cultural tourism represents or could represent a main asset for economic development and on the other hand cultural heritage is often used or has been used in ideological and political struggles and even military conflicts.

That means that we are scholars as well as professionals contributing on one side to the material increase of heritage in terms of monuments and objects brought to light and on the other side we are responsible of the interpretation and communication of the past. Therefore, we must consider all the facets of the interaction between past and present, that is the ‘impact’ of our work on society, including tourism, both at global and local level. We are aware that a virtuous cycle from excavation to the creation of an archaeological park that can be experienced by local and foreign visitors as well as the sharing of enhancement best practices are very difficult to manage in many specific cases, areas, regions and even countries. This does not mean that archaeological areas and parks, museums and other cultural institutions might renounce to participate in the process of sustainable tourism and socio- economic growth, developing strategies for managing archaeological heritage for tourism, establishing a dialogue with stakeholders while planning tourism and heritage management so that natural and cultural assets should be both valued and protected, avoiding the threats of uncontrolled mass-tourism on fragile archaeological sites.

We asked for papers that show how and why archaeology chooses to move towards sustainable tourism and development models, how it develops strategies for managing archaeological heritage for tourism considering the risks and opportunities of archaeological tourism. We are convinced that analysing the relationship between archaeology, sustainable tourism and development, new models and ideas can arise out of concrete experiences. You can find the result in this issue of the journal, a tour around the world in search of sustainable archaeological tourism projects and initiatives that promote archaeological areas in original and sustainable ways.

D’Andrea et alii bring us to Jordan where several initiatives are currently monitoring endangered cultural and natural assets, and education and awareness raising projects are in their way. In particular, the Madaba Archaeological Regional Museum aims at creating a network of small museums run by local communities in order to foster capacity building among locals and sustainable economic development in the region. Innocenti takes us along Cultural Routes – with a close look at the Italian Via Francigena and Via Appia – and describes how archaeologists could and should contribute to their creation and development.

Sicily is the protagonist of two papers. Danile et alii describe The Conquest of Akragas, a re- enactment initiative in the Valley of the Temples (Agrigento), and its success. While Zisa points out that Sicilian Museums should take greater advantage of the position of the island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and its long history of intercultural relationships, and foster intercultural dialogue among residents and tourists. The Archaeological Museum ‘A. Salinas’ in Palermo is presented as a regional pioneer in this regard. But is sustainable tourism an oxymoron?, asks Gould. Long term sustainability of archaeological tourism is possible only if local communities are placed at the centre of the enterprise, if all stakeholders collaborate and if archaeologists are the main promoters and catalysts of such initiatives.

Our Satura Lanx section features a paper by the Italia Langobardorum Association that brings together all the sites included in the ‘The Longobards in Italy’ Unesco World Heritage serial site. Starting from the year 2011, the Association organized school trips in all sites so that the young generations become aware of the importance of the Longobards and their monuments for Italian and European history and traditions. On the other end, Di Russo reflects on cultural heritage as a brand and on how to attract people to less popular cultural destinations in order to foster general cultural growth as well as the social and economic growth of local communities. He then points out the crucial and still underestimated role of cultural communication professionals.

Our Archaeotales section is a must read. We published truly great tales. Oetzi, the man who got stuck in the Alps more than five thousand years ago, is probably the most famous mummy in the world. But what happened exactly on the very day he died? An intriguing hypothesis and a thrilling and page turner tale by Giorgia Cappelletti.

Moreover, we propose two tales by Mariangela Galatea Vaglio that focus on a specific area, the Baratti Gulf on the coast of Tuscany, and are linked to two relevant stories in the News section, where we propose a selection of relevant Italian Public Archaeology initiatives. On the Poggio del Molino headland, located on the northernmost side of the Gulf, an ongoing archaeological excavation is uncovering the remains of a luxurious Roman seaside villa. Our tale narrates the long and complex history of the villa, and matches with the project – promoted by Archeostorie® and the cultural association Past in Progress – of converting the villa and the surrounding area (recently acquired by the local administration) into a PArCo, as we called it, a ‘Community Archaeology Park’: a place where anyone will spend their free time alongside archaeologists at work. It is a new model that we want to pilot in the area of Poggio del Molino and that could be replicated in other locations. A true revolution. We talk about it at length in our News section. Both the Tales and News sections report on an exceptional discovery on the shores of the Gulf of Baratti: a man buried with chains on his ankles and an iron yoke around his neck. A slave, who not even death could free from his shackles. Just a few months after the discovery, the ‘man in chains’ was exhibited at the Etruscan Museum of Populonia, with the purpose of building an intense and immediate dialogue between archaeologists and citizens. On that occasion, Mariangela Galatea Vaglio wrote a most intense tale.

Other highlights in the News section range from some important examples of the growing use of immersive reality for the communication of archaeological sites, to the construction of a metro station in the heart of Rome that showcases the results of the excavations, layer after layer, as people descend deeper and deeper underground and go back in time. This is, to our mind, archaeology that truly reaches out to the people.

The last newsworthy episode we recorded is a very sad one: on the night of September 7 2017, a fire destroyed the archaeological park of the Roman villa of Faragola (Foggia). We still do not know who started the fire but we know it was deliberately set. Giuliano De Felice – amongst the protagonists of the excavation of the villa – reflects on how to reconcile rebuilding the site with preserving memory of the tragic event. This is precisely what is currently being done.

You will notice that, differently from the previous issue of this Journal, Tales and News are now accompanied by a selected bibliography that enables our readers to further explore the subjects. We hope you will find this innovation useful. Last but not least, we are particularly fond of our Memories section, which is actually our explosive lead section. We replicated the very same authors of the first issue: they brought us luck. Richard Hodges follows up on his account on how he got involved in the Butrint (Albania) excavations and ignited the process that culminated in the creation of the Butrint National Park. Daniele Manacorda, on the other hand, reflects on the essential role archaeology plays in our contemporary world. A must for all archaeologists, this text was actually the keynote speech at the event we organized to present the first volume of our Journal.

Gould, P. & Pyburn, K. A. 2017. Collision or Collaboration. Archaeology Encounters Economic Development. New York: Springer.

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Mowforth, M. & Munt, I. 2015. Tourism and Sustainability: Development, Globalisation and New Tourism in the Third World. Abingdon: Routledge.

Pace, A. 2012. From Heritage to Stewardship: Defining the Sustainable Care of Archaeological Places. In R. Skeates, C. McDavid & J. Carman (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Public Archaeology, pp. 275-295. New York: Oxford University Press.

Timothy, D.J. 2014. Contemporary Cultural Heritage and Tourism Development Issues and Emerging Trends. Public Archaeology 13: pp. 30-47.

Toffler, A. 1980. The Third Wave. New York: Bantam Books.

UNWTO 2005. Making Tourism More Sustainable – A Guide for Policy Makers. Paris-Madrid: World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Available at:

UNESCO 2018. The UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme website. Available at: