Ethics, Use, and Inclusion in Managing Archaeological Built Heritage: The Relationship Between Experts and Visitors/Users

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The main factor for the emergence of the idea of architectural heritage and the primary imperative for its conservation has been an awareness of the distance of this heritage from the present (as evident in the technological, typological, and morphological features of artifacts. This distance has established the conditions for built heritage (and, in particular, archaeological built heritage) to become something of an ivory tower: a niche field, devoted mostly to cultured people and where only specialist experts have a say. The only “legitimized relationship” between expert and “visitor” has often been a “top-down relationship, in which the expert ‘translates’ […] the site and its meanings to the visitor. The very use of the term ‘visitor’ also facilitates the construction of passivity and disconnection” (Smith 2006: 34). This “translation” is more demanding if one considers built archaeological heritage as a sort of borderline case within architectural heritage, in which the most specific characteristics are accentuated, because of the high level of incompleteness; the clear split from the contemporary sphere; the extreme intrinsic vulnerability; and the relational complexity with the surrounding natural and anthropic environment. The need for conveying the specialized scientific knowledge to uninitiated people in regards to archaeological built heritage poses even more difficult challenges in terms of interpretation, hindering an active role by most visitors and local communities in managing archaeological built heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Global Archaeology
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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