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by Archaeology Newsroom

Industrial Archaeology and Heritage: Communication and Conflict

Industrial archaeology is a new discipline and at the same time a new practice in the field of the protection of cultural heritage. This duality in its character is due to the conditions that affected its creation in time and place: it was in England of 1950’s, when the country had been swept by a huge wave of de-industrialization, that the scientific interest in industrial ruins coincided with the social demand for preserving the nations’ resources, know-how and local identities. Industrial archaeology, by adopting concepts from the relevant sciences, as well as from the field of the protection of monuments, contributed to the broadening of these concepts and to the introduction of new ones. It also played a decisive role in the deposition of the notion of monument and in the enrichment of the concept of heritage. It also favored the creation of a new kind of museums, the eco-museums, and, instead of studying the technical achievement, it chose to consider the entire environment of productive activities. However, a conflict was created from the beginning between the scientific and the preservation issues as regards both the specifications of the scientific field and the character of the interventions in the relics of industrial heritage. In Greece, the study and documentation of industrial archaeology started in the 1980’s, while quite many initiatives have been taken for its promotion. Nevertheless, the recent industrial past of the country does not seem to have been appreciated properly, and as a result the material remains of this past are approached and treated with inconsistency.