Public Archaeology: the loss of innocence

Reuben Grima


In 1973, David Clarke’s seminal article ‘Archaeology: the loss of innocence’ appeared in Antiquity, to herald, epitomise, and articulate a paradigm shift that was reshaping the entire discipline of archaeology as it embraced new tools, methods, and theories. The present short contribution is immeasurably more modest in scope, and only borrows Clarke’s title in homage to his lasting influence. It will argue that the specific domain of action and encounter that we gather under the rubric of Public Archaeology is itself on the cusp of undergoing a ‘loss of innocence’ of a different kind. For the purpose of this conversation, Public Archaeology will be understood in its widest possible sense, to embrace the way people anywhere may relate to the past, and the influence that the past and attitudes to the past may have on the lives of people today. It will consider some of the impacts and consequences of the internet and the World Wide Web, which of course deserve a much more thorough discussion than is possible here, and which should be read as a shorthand for some of the wider sea changes that we are witnessing.

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ISSN: 2171-6315

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