Perspective of Materiality in Archaeological Heritage


  • Natalija Ćosić Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia



archaeological heritage, archaeological management, conservation, materiality, values, collaborative practices


In the wider professional community gathered around the notion of archaeological heritage, there is an undisputed consensus that the material traces have to be preserved for research, education and presentation, for the present and future generations. However, the climate change, pollution, intensive urbanization and other perils present a significant source of risk for archaeological remains in their original settings. Additionally, archaeological evidence may be present in the form of skeletal remains, cave drawings, landscapes or negatives of missing objects or materials. Underwater finds, stone monuments, archaeobotanical traces, fortifications, or wooden sanctuaries may all also constitute archaeological remains. In order to be preserved today, each of these examples requires various conditions, processing of material traces and preservation after excavation. Finally, all these artefacts and ecofacts gain different places in the contemporary context.

Bearing in mind the variety of situations and forms in which archaeological finds and material remains may occur, it is necessary to reconsider the scope of the content embraced by the term of archaeological heritage and material traces of the past, under the conditions of rapid and intensive changes. Here the theoretical standpoint is applied derived from Bruno Latour, about the role of various actants, live and non-live participants in social processes. In this sense, objects – artefacts and ecofacts, are parts of diverse processes of negotiation and reshaping of their environment. They can equally influence, entice, stop or change processes.

In order to contribute to solving this dilemma, the text discusses the notion of archaeological materialities at the intersection of conservation and archaeological perspectives. It is argued that, when facing the current problems, especially in regard to in situ preservation, the answers and inspiration should be sought for in the wider conceptualization of materiality, as the guide and source of specific knowledges, leading to new theoretical insights.


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How to Cite

Ćosić, Natalija. 2021. “Perspective of Materiality in Archaeological Heritage”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 16 (3):633–658.