The Borsa Mediterranea del Turismo Archeologico saw its 21st edition this year with a rich range of events hosted in the breath-taking surroundings of the Parco Archeologico di Paestum (15-18 November 2018). Tourism and cultural heritage stakeholders, cultural associations, publishers, academics and educators from Italy and other Mediterranean countries (and beyond) took the opportunity to display and promote their activities at this annual fair.
Among the numerous initiatives that took place over these four days, particular emphasis was put on themes of cultural exchanges and interrelationships. Given the growing climate of political – and cultural – isolation in countries such as Italy, the UK and the USA, archaeology is crying out for the need to reach out rather than to hide behind physical or ideological borders. Indeed, cultural heritage as a universal value knows no boundaries by definition.
The Dialogues on the Archaeology of Magna Graecia and the Ancient Mediterranean focused on the concepts of ‘Identity and Belonging’, by assessing and comparing different interpretative models. The session was chaired by Emanuele Greco (President of the Fondazione Paestum) and Carmine Ampolo (Accademia dei Lincei and Emeritus Professor of the Scuola Normale di Pisa). It featured talks by international scholars who addressed this subject through the perspective of archaeology, history, art history and philosophy.
Another highlight was the presentation of current archaeological projects in Italy by the foreign institutes in Rome. As customary, this session was run jointly by the Associazione Italiana di Archeologia Classica – AIAC and the Unione Internazionale degli Istituti di Archeologia, Storia e Storia dell’Arte in Roma. This year’s panel included presentations by Kristian Göransson (President of AIAC and Director of the Swedish Institute of Classical Studies in Rome), Ria Berg (Institutum Romanum Finlandiae) and Tesse Stek (Reale Istituto Neerlandese di Roma). This wide range of research projects, including those conducted by the BSR, is of crucial importance for fostering international collaborations. The work carried out by these institutes is not just based in Italy, but is also for Italy and, especially, with Italy – an example of the far-reaching impact of cultural and scientific exchanges. Over the past month the BSR has worked with colleagues from Berlin at Morgantina, with the Swedish Institute at Francavilla and with the British Museum in Sudan.
Emblematic of this year’s leading theme, one of the principal sessions was dedicated to ‘Intercultural Dialogue as a Universal Value of Identity and Heritage’. Starting with the remembrance of the tragic episodes of the Bardo Museum and the destructions at Palmyra, the discussion was chaired by Stefania Battistini (RAI Tg1 journalist) and featured contributions by Moncef Ben Moussa (Director of the Development of Museums for INP Tunisia), Paolo Verri (Director of the Foundation Matera-Basilicata 2019) and Paolo Matthiae (Director of the archaeological mission in Syria by the University of Rome La Sapienza) among many others. The ‘Khaled al-Asaad Prize 2018’ was awarded to Benjamin Clément (Researcher of Archaeology and Archaeometry at CNRS) for his discovery of the ‘Small Pompeii’ at Vienne (France).
Alongside the panels in the two conference venues, the Borsa also hosted a number of events at the Archaeological Museum of Paestum: ‘hands-on’ sessions on archaeological artefacts, re-enactments of ancient production techniques, interactive workshops and meetings with archaeologists for schools and the general public. Walking around the museum display of architectural sculpture from the temples of Paestum and the Heraion at Foce del Sele, visitors could experience the wonders of 3D reconstructions and virtual reality. The exhibition ArcheoVirtual 2018 was co-organized by the CNR ITABC Laboratory of Virtual Reality, the MiBAC General Direction of Museums and BMTA. By stimulating the visitors’ visual senses and perception of ancient monuments, the exhibition was a pleasant way to connect past, present and future, thus making archaeological information easily accessible to a broad audience.
Text and photos by Niccolò Mugnai (Research Fellow)