Popularisation

Of course, one of the most exciting parts about working on archaeological monuments is envisioning how we might 'rebuild' them. Of course, this is dicey and often dangerous work that sometimes borders on the theatrical - particularly when the public or the media imagination gets stirred. In Goseck, for example, media hype and tremendous public interest have been boosted by the Bronze Age sky disk of Nebra - a glorious depiction of the moon and celestial bodies, which was found about 25 kilometers north of Goseck (Meller 2004). With the find, the archaeo-astronomic interpretation of Goseck intensified to such a frenzy that careful scientific explanations of the site becomes overshadowed by free-wheeling media hype over what the site might have been. Thanks to careful planning and substantial funding by the Heritage Management Service of Saxony-Anhalt with the support of a local cultural association, Goseck's circular enclosure has been reconstructed to be as lifelike as possible. The reconstruction stands in its original place and serves as a means of bringing us closer to understanding how it functioned. It might also be a means of achieving that terribly difficult yet pivotal archaeological goal - interesting the public in prehistory.



Of course, the opposite danger is also there - that this - a carefully excavated Neolithic enclosure - will, because of its extraordinary imaginative potential, be usurped by the public and the media and transformed into a sort of archaeological Disneyland (for a detailed discussion of the different relations between the national medias/presses and archaeology, see Ascherson 2004, Benz and Liedmeier 2007, Kaeser 2008, Lüscher 2008, Scherzler 2007). In such a sad case, much of the site's meaning and context would be lost in the public's hunger for easy understanding. Although these dangers of this appealing but ultimately archaeologically destructive impulse should not be underestimated, the potentials of the popularisation of archaeology clearly countervail them: the dramatic budget cuts for teaching and research in most European countries forces us to better 'communicating archaeology' to the public. The public has to understand why it should spend tax money on archaeological research. Herein results a responsibility for scientific transparency and sustainability in the research of the regional history and monuments.