Some thoughts about the landscape and monuments

Giorgos Vavouranakis, Lecturer in "Prehistoric Aegean: Theoretical Archaeology"
National & Kapodistrian University of Athens

The landscape is usually defined as both a part of the surface of the earth and as the result of human perception of this part. In this defiition the landscape remains a static object, which is rendered active only through human signification and agency. Such a concept undermines landscape research, protection and promotion, since it encourages the separation of the wider public from the disciplinary treatment of the landscape.

The latter has to be redefined as an active entity, in a symetrical relationship with people without subject-object dichotomies. Therefore, our relationship with the environment has to acknowledge that the latter, both physical and manmade acts upon us and agency flows within such relations between actants. A landscape then is a framed bundle of activities/relations, while the landscape as a whole is the synesthaesia of our relational constitution through our interpermeable links with other actants.

Monuments are actants filtered through temporality that define the historicality of the landscape. Research and heritage management should not objectify past landscapes by carving out their limits, but, rather, facilitate the understanding of the historical folds of the landscape. In the example of the prehistoric palace of Knossos at Crete, the aim would be the relatedness of the wider Knossos area to other places and times, such as the harbour at Poros-Katsampas, the Roman colony and even Sir Arhtour Evans’s ferro-concrete reconstitution of the palace, which should be seen as yet another temporal fold and an integral part of the historicality of Knossos.


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