Theatrum archaeologicum: staging the past via archaeological fêtes and historical re-enactment
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In this article I argue that archaeology can be viewed as an “art” of staging the past. Archaeology as a discipline generates accounts of past time by creating some complete narratives which can be textual, visual, or take the form of staged events – a staging. Archaeological fêtes and the staged reconstructions which fall under the umbrella term of the so-called historical re-enactment are examples of forms of narrating the past. In this article I present arguments that these forms instantiate new modes of talking about the past, presenting, popularizing and experiencing the past which are based on attractiveness, wide accessibility, participation and affective engagement. The phenomena under discussion illustrate the theatralisation of the past defi ned as all modes of presenting and relating historical events, processes and persons with the use of theatrical practices – costumes, personalized drama, staging, etc. Following this line of reasoning, I argue in the present article that fêtes and historical re-enactments can be perceived as a spectacle or a show and analysed with the use of methodology applied to describe cultural events understood as a broad concept.
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