Exotic, Spectacular Dirt: Archaeology and Tourism

  • Robin Smith Department of Anthropolgy


With the recent growth of the archaeological tourism industry archaeologists are facing new issues arising from the intersection of scientific research and commercial tourism. Often these include physical danger to sites, threats to scientific integrity from new and powerful stakeholders and concerns about commercial repackaging. Though it is generally thought that site tourism is intrinsically at odds with conservation some teams have found innovative strategies to circumvent the potential pitfalls and turn tourism to theiradvantage. This paper examines some of these strategies, their successes and failures, and some of the issues surrounding contemporary archaeological tourism. It also explores two different major types of tourism. Whilearchaeological tourism can undoubtedly pose many challenges it also offers a unique opportunity for research, and researchers, to engage with a wider community, and the most successful projects seem to be those that are most willing to embrace this prospect with sensitivity and enthusiasm.
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