Session Abstracts

Umbrella thematic area:

Monuments in Ruins—Ruins as Monuments

Evaluation, Protection, Enhancement & Management

Vassilis Ganiatsas,
Professor of Theory, Philosophy and Practice of Architectural/Urban/Landscape Design, National Technical University of Athens.


Ruins, archaeological and historical, present a special category of monuments: one generated through time from natural wear and tear, abrupt natural catastrophes, abandonment and/or intentional destruction. They present extreme cases of monumentality, dictated by the simple fact of being — ruinous.

Ruins qua physical remains represent materiality. Partially preserved, they can only suggest their original complete state; existing thus in some middle ground between present diminished form and past substance, they are subject to all manner of theorization and philosophizing. Additionally, as remnants of edifices subjected to destructive forces, ruins embed both the monument they come from as well as the act of its destruction.

As a result, ruins do not have to be seen as mere passive remains, but by taking on an active cultural role, they can transcend their status as parts of lost wholes. They can assume an identity of their own, as ruins; they can become monuments qua ruins and not languish as pitiful ruins of monuments.

Ruins are an accurate way to describe all archaeological sites in terms of materiality, but as a concept they incorporate all monuments and objects, of whatever size, whose simple existence can stimulate remembrance. So, are ruins live entities or dead corpses? And in either case, are they cultural assets (passive) or cultural agents (active)?

If dead, as assets or agents, what kind of cultural symbolism do they perform – or could do? Does their preservation have a role to play in the Cult of Yesteryear? Are ruinous landscapes only cemeteries of the past?

If alive, in what sense is this so? How could their flickering existence be best enhanced and managed? How may they adapt to the present cultural dynamics in which they physically exist?

Traditionally, ruins have been appreciated as fragmented parts, conveying but a sense of the whole they once belonged to, so inviting the beholder to complete the image by extrapolating the whole out the part (in the time-honoured Classical tradition). Or as fragments celebrating – or mourning – that which is forever lost (in the full-blown Romantic tradition).

Despite the great influence ruins exert over audiences of all kinds, and despite the fact that all archaeological sites are ruins almost by definition, there has been hardly any debate in recent decades as to their potential. Discussions here have tended to polarize between reconstitution from the original surviving pieces and reconstruction/stabilization at often arbitrarily-selected places. All too often, there exists no valid theoretical framework to underpin or guide the necessities of everyday practice.

The 4th HMO International HerMa Conference on Heritage Management will contribute to this largely absent debate by reconsidering ruins qua physical remains, for their evocative potential, and in particular to provide a philosophy to inform heritage management at all kinds of scales: from museum objects to historical buildings, archaeological sites to historical landscapes.

The main subjects raised will revolve around the following sorts of concerns:

  1. RUINS OF WHAT/AS WHAT? — matters of identity, the relation between parts and wholes, as well as the ‘authenticity’ of restored monuments in relation to what remains of their original material substance … and other ruinous topics. Theoretical and philosophical contributions are most welcome in this session.
  2. RUINS FOR WHAT/WHERE? — the purposes, criteria, hierarchies and decision making in the preservation of ruinous monuments, through case studies of theory and of practice.
  3. RUINS FOR WHOM? — the different approaches and desires of the general public and the experts: the various empathies expressed (or not) towards ruins, ruins of one’s own or another’s culture, the relation of the part to the whole and management strategies devised to accentuate, remedy, mitigate or even celebrate the fragmented condition of the archetypal ruin. This session focuses on sociological, anthropological, psychological approaches.
  4. RUINS HOW? — looks at the actual processes of ruination, the subsequent functioning of ruins and the diverse methods of their documentation, technologies of their stabilization and their presentation to the public.

Legal Issues Concerning the Return of Cultural Objects to Sites in Ruins


Irini Stamatoudi,
LL.M., Ph.D., Director, Hellenic Copyright Organisation.

Many are archaeological sites that have been taken apart through the years for various reasons such as war, colonialism, state gifts, natural catastrophies, vandalism, illegal excavation, theft and so on. These sites remain in ruins. Parts of a number of those sites (some of them having even qualified as world cultural heritage sites) are to be found in museums, private collections or are still sold through auction houses and galleries. International Conventions, regional legal instruments (such as EU laws), bilateral agreements and national laws provide for return and restitution. Yet not all of these cases are sufficiently covered by the aforementioned legal instruments. Such failings are usually due to time limitations, lack of proof, varying interpretations by different states and so on. The aim of this session is a) to explore whether the current legal framework is adequate to serve the needs for return and restitution of cultural objects back to the sites they originate from or whether changes should be made and b) to explore what any such changes should look like. Some of the issues that could be touched upon during this session are: Particular cases of return and restitution and what the impediments for return were, if there were any.

Whether world cultural heritage sites should have a ‘right’ as such concerning the return of their parts from collections abroad, irrespective of any legal obligation towards this end. Whether the law alone suffices for the restitution of missing parts of works of art or antiquities, or whether other interests such as ethnological, historical, anthropological or other are relevant. Whether there are any legal principles or trends favouring the integrity and the in situ preservation of artefacts.

What are the main legal impediments for restitution, and how can these be overcome.

Ancient Ruins – Rare Opportunities to Look and Learn


Mike Corbishley,
Honorary Senior Lecturer in Heritage Education University College London Institute of Archaeology, UK. Senior Lecturer MA Heritage Management, University of Kent-Athens University of Economics and Business, Elefsina, Greece.

Ruins, often idealised in former times as romantic, are more often seen now as an enjoyable day-out for adults and family groups. We know that tens of thousands of school children and students visit the most famous monuments of our pasts, for example the Acropolis in Athens or Mesa Verde or one of the many ruined monasteries in Britain. Do schools consider visits to their local heritage sites as well? How many of these outings are planned by their teachers as part of long term learning, linked to classroom activities in a range of subjects, not just in history? This session of our conference is concerned with how schools and others in formal education are encouraged to see these monuments as a unique learning experience. Do those who manage our monuments provide programmes and resources for educational visits? We welcome submissions from educators in formal learning at landscapes, sites and museums (with attached or nearby sites) for education groups from primary and secondary schools, further and higher education and adult learners. We also welcome submissions from teachers who have developed their own activities and resources for a visit to a ruin, however old that might be.

Ruins, Memory, Communities: Social Archaeologies of the Present


Aris Anagnostopoulos,
Honorary Lecturer University of Kent, Director HMO Public.

Lena Stefanou,
Lecturer University of Kent, HMO Public.

In the contemporary urban environment, ruins occupy an important space in the cityscape. Be they abandoned and neglected, preserved and studied, visited or not, ruins as shells of the past are part of the kaleidoscope of the multiple materialities and temporalities of the city. Within the framework of the archaeologies of the present, it is vital to investigate and understand how the relationship among communities of people and the ruins that surround them is shaped, in order to be able to proceed to inclusive heritage management approaches. In this context, we invite speakers who wish to touch upon the following issues:

  • The materiality of ruins and its interaction with everyday activities
  • The agency of ruins influencing decision making in the cityscape Memory and/in ruins.
  • Memories related to the remains of the past or memories as ruins of the past.
  • Ruins and local/national/cultural identities. Ruins acquiring identity themselves and shaping identities.
  • Ethnographies/biographies of ruins
  • Processes of ruination currently under way as a result of the crisis, war and forced displacement.

Advanced Heritage Technologies/ Digital Heritage


Ioannis Liritzis,
Professor of Archaeometry /Natural Sciences, University of the Aegean, Rhodes, Greece. Visiting Scholar University of California San Diego, USA.

The aim of this Session is to introduce the range of New Digital technologies and methods in cultural heritage (tangible and intangible) that are available to archaeologists, museologists, culturalists, scientists, for cultural management and dissemination and that ultimately lead to the sustainability.

The objectives are to enable one to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of, and critically evaluate, the range of data management, process and modelling by computational methods and their contribution to archaeological / cultural research.

The debate over the electronic processing and presentation of museum collections and monuments with the application of new digital technologies and in particular the potential of the Internet has given rise to a new twist to the debate that started in the late 1990s and onwards. This interest shifted to the relationship between museums and the Web (WWW), the opportunities which it offers for redefining the role, importance and function of museums. New terms were created to describe the presence of real, three-dimensional museum on the internet, but also the emergence of a new class of museums, exclusively “online” in cyberspace. Issues were raised related to the “essence” of the museum’s relationship with the knowledge and material culture, its role in society.

The progress of techniques and methods drawn from the fields of information technology, networks and archaeometry has offered new data and developed newer innovative techniques for the visualization of archaeological objects in their original function space with a virtual reality or 3D imaging. One can show, for example, the geometry and surface optical issues of objects, which contributes effectively to their study, even highlighting elements that escape the simple macro-visual observation; one can even effect a partial restoration / rehabilitation. Finally, important new results from archaeometric investigations of monuments, artefacts and ancient texts have emerged that could well be explored with virtual or augmented virtual reality means. Thus, museum collections, historic sites, monuments, ancient landscapes, ancient celestial observations, ancient everyday living activities etc, are all capable of being digitally reconstructed and thus become more readily approached and understood by a wider audience, including students. Such work eventually leads to the development of infrastructures and yet newer technologies, with clear economic benefit to the local community.

The qualified session on Advanced Heritage Technologies /Digital Heritage aims to approach all issues of digital archaeology or digital cultural heritage with innovative presentation software, new applications. It will illuminate opportunities and prospects in education, society and sustainable development. It is addressed to undergraduate and postgraduate students with the relevant degrees, the academic community, those in secondary education, archaeologists, historians, folklorists, science graduates, companies with digital applications in the field of cultural heritage, public and private museums, etc. This Session-forum will look to trigger collaborations and multimedia applications with respect to Greek archaeological issues.

Topics include, but are not restricted to, the following topics:

  • Novel software packages
  • Cyberarchaeology / Cyberheritage
  • Visualizing heritage structures in 3D
  • Virtual Reality case studies
  • Virtual museums & Sustainability
  • Quantitative and qualitative approaches
  • Web 2.0 and Social Networking in Cultural Heritage
  • GIS & Archaeology
  • Animated models in Archaeology
  • Virtual archaeometry labs
  • Advanced Hi-Tech applications
  • Linking cultural management, tourism & sustainability
  • Preservation of historical & traditional practices
  • Augmented Reality & Mobile AR in Archaeological Sites
  • Interactive installations in museums and heritage sites
  • Educational approaches
  • Archaeometrical results with virtual digitalization
  • Linking the People: Digital Arts & Cultures; an international intercultural dialogue

Ancient  Monuments  in  Education  Today
The Athenian Acropolis: a case study


Cornelia Hadziaslani,
Architect- Archaeologist, Head of Education Acropolis Restoration Service until 2011.

Greece is an extended archaeological site. Everywhere we look, everywhere we step, we are surrounded by antiquities, our natural environment is antiquities. Of course, very often we don’t know what lays beneath our feet; thus every outing in the country is a tremendous opportunity both for a nice walk  but also for learning through the brilliant spectrum of the Greek world. The goal of many educated Greeks is through the monuments to combine learning and pleasure.

At the same time the Greek classical civilization, especially the Athenian Acropolis is part of the curriculum in Greece but also in the majority of schools around the world.

Thirty years ago the Acropolis Restoration Service and the Acropolis Ephorate decided  to create an Education Department for the Athenian Acropolis. In 2009 the new Acropolis Museum was inaugurated  and enriched this very important Sanctuary.

The aim of the Education Department  was from the beginning to provide people of different levels of education with the opportunity to enhance their understanding of the classical civilization. Our activities address to everybody, to schools, to families, to a higher or lower education visitor.

Also since the beginning we tried to engage the personel of the site, the universities, the school teachers to all our activities.

The Department today

Organizes educational programs for school groups, activities and games for children and parents

Creates educational resources. They comprise museum-trails, books, museum kits, family back-packs. It also creates educational online applications for educators, pupils and the general public.

Conducts seminars for educators, holds special symposia for teachers and publishes their proceedings.

In this paper the long term planning but also the short term step by step creation of the Acropolis Education Department is going to be presented.

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