Thérèse Claeys

Public archaeology

Cultural heritage management studies

PhD title :

The reconstructed past and its future conjugation. Towards the elaboration of sustainable strategies for the preservation and mediation of the Minoan archaeological landscape.

Faced with the silence of its written sources, the Minoan civilization is mainly known through its material culture. The treatment of the Minoan “ruins”, as unique testimonies of this civilization, not only during excavations but also afterwards, is hence a major stake. If there has been a growing interest in the field of archaeological heritage conservation management since a few decades, very few studies have been dedicated to the preservation of Minoan archaeological sites, others than the iconic example of Knossos, and no attempts have yet been made to codify implied conservation and presentation practices for this specific heritage. Furthermore, despite fierce criticism over the Knossian model in the academic sphere, the collective representation of Minoan civilization is still largely influenced by Evans’s legacy and mythological considerations. My research ambitions to tackle these sophisms in terms of interpretation and these gaps in terms of preservation best practices, which, together with the current socio-economic context in Greek heritage management, threaten the continuity of the Minoan ruins. Incidentally, the specific Cretan climatic conditions as well as the intrinsic contingencies of the Minoan built heritage (in terms of building materials, technology and history) contribute to the fragility of its ruins and to its limited visibility/readability.

These peculiarities of the Minoan archaeological heritage legitimize the adoption of a restrictive and innovative methodology. The use of both quantitative (through GIS and computational methods) and qualitative (through public survey) analyses will help the assessment of the current condition state of a large sample of prospected Minoan archaeological sites and the assessment of their reception by the public. Calling on this critical survey, recommendations establishing a dialectics between the presumed antinomic concepts of “preservation”, “presentation” and “archaeology” will be defined. Permanent dialogues with the different stakeholders, including local communities, will also be advocated to ensure the sustainability of my method.

With its obvious adherence to a community archaeology-based approach, it is hence expected that this research not only subscribes to scientific stakes but also to educational, social and economical stakes related to the management of this specific heritage.