ArchaeoConcept participated in the EAA virtual conference with a session on communication at archaeological sites. More than 60 virtual visitors attended the the most interesting speeches.August 24 to 30 2020
Cynthia Dunning co-organised with Peter Kienzle (Germany) a virtual session at the next EAA conference, which took place on-line from the 24th to 30th August 2020 .
The session "So What? How to Gently Kill Your Darlings or How to Communicate to an Audience as Wide as Possible" proposed to explore new ways to transmit archaeological messages to the public.
While archaeology is an academic discipline and high-level intellectual dispute about archaeological theory and the best interpretation of the material culture is encouraged, archaeology is also a commodity in tourism business and sites welcome large numbers of visitors of various backgrounds.
Archaeological results are very specialized in-detail studies of particular narrow aspects of former societies or propose general theories on cultural development, presented at academic level in comprehensive papers or individual books of several hundred pages. However, archaeology is financed by “the public”. Therefore, “the public” claims its right to participate in the results of archaeological research. Since “the public” is a cross section of our society with a wide range of interests and intellectual properties, communicating the results of archaeological research requires an understanding of the target groups and requires a reduction of the complexity of the research results to simple but still true messages.
Museums, archaeological parks and sites have tried numerous and various ways to understand visitor perception and their approach to heritage and archaeology. Based on this understanding (or these assumptions), they developed various ways of communication ranging from reenactment and reconstructions or hands-on-experiences to signboards, popular publications and traditional museum exhibitions. In an ever-changing world, the new media replaced many traditional ways of communication and only recently, the emotional approach to archaeology by the visitors became mainstream. Furthermore, the sites, the ruins and the exposed walls communicate with the visitors just by being there. Still, the main objective is to bridge the gap between accurate academic results and the visitor’s demands.
During this session we discussed new ways of conveying the messages of archaeology to the public. We heard about practical experiences concerning storytelling, training of communication on sites, collaborations with local companies, accessibility to an underprivileged public. We also discovered the importance of language in communication and the incomprehension it can cause when it is badly chosen.