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Managing Contemporary Archaeology in the Mediterranean: Challenges observed from #pubarchMED

Jaime Almansa-Sánchez

Cite this as: Almansa-Sánchez, J. 2024 Managing Contemporary Archaeology in the Mediterranean: Challenges observed from #pubarchMED, Internet Archaeology 66.


Excavation of the film set
Excavation of the film set of The good, the bad and the ugly

Contemporary archaeology was one of the topics addressed within a large study to improve understanding of archaeological heritage management in the Mediterranean basin by the pubarchMED project. While 19th and early 20th century contexts are often studied, contemporary archaeology in the Mediterranean (especially post World War II period) still represents a challenge both for practitioners and heritage managers. This article delves into some structural issues of archaeological heritage management and archaeological practice of the contemporary world, disentangling the main challenges they reveal and the interesting questions they raise for archaeological practice.

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  • Keywords: archaeology, management, contemporary archaeology, public archaeology, challenges, future, #pubarchMED
  • Accepted: 31 Oct 2023. Published: 21 March 2024
  • Funding: The publication of this article is funded by the European Archaeological Council.
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Corresponding author: Jaime Almansa-SánchezORCID logo
Institute of Heritage Sciences (INCIPIT-CSIC)

Full text

Figure 1: Excavation of the film set of The good, the bad and the ugly (Sergio Leone, 1966) in the north of Madrid (Spain) by Jesús Alonso-Martín in May 2023. After discussions with the regional Administration to issue the permit, the materials will be treated archaeologically. Photo by the author

Figure 2: Descending to San Giovanni metro station in Rome (Italy). A full stratigraphy of the excavations in the station shows the history of this quarter to the present day. The cases hold material from early prehistory to the contemporary era. Video by the author

Figure 3: Remains of an Ottoman gate in the centre of Belgrade (Serbia). Can you see them? The footprint of the gate and the wall has been engraved in the pavement with no further interpretation at the time of the visit (October 2019). The Ottoman past of the region is still traumatic and conflicted and one can suspect a conscious intervention to minimise the visibility of the site. Photo by the author

Figure 4: Graffiti in the centre of Athens (Greece) depicting classical motifs. Graffiti archaeology is a growing topic with very different approaches and great potential to understand links between contemporary societies and archaeology. Photo by the author

Figure 5: The Old Mole Head in Gibraltar (United Kingdom). In use until the end of the 19th century, it became absorbed by the city and somehow protected after the construction of a new secondary school over it. The creative solution in a place lacking construction surface would not be very satisfying elsewhere, but seems good enough under the circumstances of Gibraltar. Photo by the author

Figure 6: The family house of opera singer Maria Callas in Neochori (Greece) seems to be a place of interest in the small village, but the excellent work conducted in the management of nearby ancient Messene or the surrounding monasteries seems to be absent from this contemporary heritage site. Photo by the author

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