Lively Heritage

On More-Than-Human Encounters at Mediterranean Archaeological Sites


  • Monika Stobiecka University of Warsaw



sanitization of the past, lively heritage, living heritage, nonhumans, animals, Mediterranean archaeology, Agrigento, critical heritage studies, archaeological photography


This paper is an attempt to discuss the concept of lively heritage, based on examples of accidental encounters with animals at archaeological sites. The starting point of this study is criticism of the “sterilisation” or “sanitisation” of archaeological sites. Its theoretical discourse on sterilisation of the past begins with a brief reference to contemporary photography (Alfred Seiland’s “Imperium Romanum” series), which is contrasted with the innovative conservation strategy employed at the archaeological site in Agrigento, Sicily, and vital encounters with animals at selected Mediterranean archaeological sites: the Tombs of the Kings in Paphos, Cyprus, and the archaeological site of Soluntum, Sicily. By discussing my own ethnographic experiences of encountering animals that inhabit these two archaeological sites and how their presence helped me rethink the past and heritage, I challenge the concept of living heritage and propose in its place the term “lively heritage”, which extends beyond the confines of human-centred and institutionalised heritage, and argues that the prevailing meaning of heritage sites and their management remains limited to staged, constructed and sanitised notions of the past. Within this critical perspective, the actual embodied experience of visiting the sites while remaining attentive towards their hosts (various species of animals) opens up new possibilities for seeing lively heritage not only as biodiversity, but also as hospitality hubs.


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How to Cite

Stobiecka, M. (2022). Lively Heritage: On More-Than-Human Encounters at Mediterranean Archaeological Sites. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 9(1), 64–81.



Research Article