European heritage of ancient cultures. 3 interdisciplinary essays

Essay, 2021

9 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Literature about Heritage

The following response paper will be about the class which was held on the 17th of December by Tim Sommer. There were held two presentations and fictitious literature which covers the topic of heritage was discussed.

Diodorus Siculus, an antique historian, who was fascinated by the Rammesseum, translated the inscription on the base of one of his sculptures. He named Ramses II “Ozymandias” which was a wrong translation of his Throne Name which is “User-maat-Re”. Only after the decipherment of hieroglyphs by Jean Francois Champollion in 1822 Ramses II became more present. Percy Bysshe Shelley takes Diodorus’ translation of the inscription (line 10) in his poem “Ozymandias”.

When Shelley first published his poem in 1818, the British Museum had already announced that they had acquired a fragment of a statue of Ramses II, the so called “Younger Memnon” which had been found at the entrance of the Ramesseum mortuary temple in Thebes, Upper Egypt. It arrived at the British Museum in 1821.

During the French campaign in Egypt and Syria in 1798 Napoleon already tried to remove the statue and bring it to France which failed. Shelley started writing his poem in 1817, three years after Napoleon’s reign ended. He witnessed, so to say, the fall of a great empire and then the rise of his own empire. When the British Museum announced that the statue will be moved to Britain he must have felt a reference to the current situation. The main theme in his poem is transient. The statue of the Egyptian King is a “colossal Wreck” (line 13) where “nothing beside remains” (line 12). It shows that human power is temporary and will end eventually. Ramses II who once thought that he is the most powerful and “King of Kings” (line 10) has now been rediscovered after he had been forgotten for a long time in history. Not all of his “Works” (line 11) survived the decay which is carried out by time. His empire had long fallen.

But on the other hand, his legacy is still there. Ramses’ power might have ended but even after 3200 years his name is known to the world and also fragments of some of his buildings survive. The Aksha temple, the Ramesseum and the Ramses II temple in Abydos are only a few examples to mention. It is also fascinating that the “Younger Memnon” statue survived for more than 3000 years with an intact inscription. It may be fragmented but it hadn’t been destroyed completely. The poem itself is a kind of preservation of the statue as it rose the interest in the Egyptian King and the knowledge of him.

Shelley’s poem is still relevant today when considering that the British Empire as well had ended at one point in history. After the Second World War Britain started with Decolonization. It rises the question of the ownership of artefacts. “Young Memnon” once belonged to Ancient Egypt and was found in Theban Necropolis which is near the modern city Luxor, Egypt but it has been at the British Museum since 1821. One of the most famous examples for this discussion is the case of the Elgin Marbles, or Parthenon Marbles. They were originally part of the Parthenon decoration on the Acropolis of Athens. It is said that they were made under the supervision of Phidias, a Greek architect and sculptor, who lived during the fifth century BCE. From 1801 to 1812 they were removed by agents of Thomas Bruce, Earl of Elgin, who later sold them to the British Museum. Since the 19th century there have been debates about the relocation. In 2015 Greece stated that they don’t want further law suits for taking the Marbles from the British Museum and in 2018 Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn argued for constructive talks for returning the Marbles. The UNESCO advocates the relocation to Greece.

Literature about heritage can either handle criticism on current situations as shown in Shelley’s poem who uses a heritage artefact as a reference to transient but it can also be used to establish a certain perspective. This can be seen in William Cullen Bryant’s “The Prairies” which deals with the Colonization of North America. The poem was written in 1833, three years after the Indian Removal Act which was the first major legislative for officially respecting the legal and political rights of Native Americans. This cleared the way for the federal government to exchange Native-hold land in the east of the Mississippi for land to the west of the river which the United States had acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Many Native Americans were forced to leave their homes and to make their way to the new territory on foot without any support. Thousands of people died along the way.

Bryant’s poem can be divided into three parts. In the first part (lines 1-34) the Lyrical I describes the surrounding nature. In his first line he uses an oxymoron (“Gardens of the Desert”) which is a reference to The Garden Eden. The prairies are described in a very detailed and positive way. The second part (lines 35-85) tries to persuade the reader that it is the right way to send Native Americans further away. Bryant uses associations of the American Settlers with the Ancient Greeks (“the Greek”, “Pentelicus”, “Parthenon” lines 47, 48, 50). By this he depreciates the Native American’s culture and ascribes a higher value to his own or the Settler’s culture. The Natives are described as “warlike and fierce” (line 59). It is also stated that it would be a waste if the current land of the Natives wasn’t cultivated in an efficient way which the Natives themselves aren’t capable of. The third part (lines 86-124) tells the reader that the Natives are better of somewhere else, because then they will have “A wider hunting ground” (line 92). William Cullen Bryant is typically included in the group of the “Fireside poets”. These poets were very popular among readers. “The Prairies” is a very conventional poem which features the political perspective of the federal government during the Indian Removals. Because of his popularity Bryant reaches a vast number of readers and is therefore able to bring this narrative to the broad public. With his poem he tries to legitimize the violent removal of Natives which is performed by European settlers to colonize North America.

“Ozymandias” and “The Prairies” are only two examples of the numerous pieces of literature which deal with heritage or heritage artefacts. Usually, poets or authors of fictional literature are more common to many people. Therefore it can be easier to awaken a broad interest for some heritage topics and debates. Nevertheless it should not be forgotten that literature can overdraw certain things which it approaches and that it uses the reader’s emotional response for different effects.

Ruprecht-Karls-Universität-Heidelberg Heidelberger Centrum für Transkulturelle Studien (HCTS) M.A. Cultural Heritage und Kulturgüterschutz Wintersemester 2020/2021 Seminar „Heritage in Interdisciplinary Perspective: Past, Present and Future of a Contested Concept“ Vorgelegt von: Melanie Schäffler Heritage and Migration It is known that the population of ancient Rome was diverse in many ways. DNA studies of archaeological surveys show that during the time from 900 to 200 BC, the time when Rome grew and established its dominance by conquering the other parts of Italy, a lot of migration was happening1. Genetic markers reflected ancestry from the Middle East and North Africa. During the imperial period there was even more diversity. When the Roman Empire reached its largest dimension, which was during emperor Trajan’s reign (98 – 117 AD), it was stretching from Britain to North Africa and the Middle East. The study mentioned by Wade suggests that most migrants in the capital city of Rome came from the East. The population in the East was a lot higher than in the West at those times and Italy is also connected to Greece and the Middle East by the Mediterranean Sea which facilitates easy travel to different countries. But migrants did not always travel to Rome by free will. There were several ways how Romans increased the number of slaves. Most slaves were captured during wars, pirates captured travelers or traders and sold them in Rome or even citizens could become slaves due to certain penalties. The empire was in a way dependent on slaves and migrants. They either practiced hard physical work or were used for the military (especially migrants).

Having this history in mind as background information it is astonishing how Italian history and identity is narrated now. Dr Francesca Piazzoni, lecturer at the School of Architecture at the University of Liverpool shows the exclusive narrative of Italian heritage and the exclusion of immigrant groups from public spaces using case study about Bangladeshi street vendors in Rome2. She had three main points which she examined by undertaking interviews with the Bangladeshi street vendors themselves, police officers, residents, workers, and tourists. The main aspects were the social and spatial relationship between Bangladeshi and other groups, the role of the built environment in these relationships and which place shaping strategies can empower immigrant groups. Regarding the area where this study took place, Piazzoni chose the city center of Rome mentioning that many scholars usually only investigate all areas but the center.

Piazzoni recognized three groups amongst the Bangladeshi street vendors. There are newcomers who have been to Italy for up to two years and who are waiting for a residence permit. Then there are established ones who have been in Italy for up to ten years. Not all of them hold residence permits and some of them also live in areas surrounding the city center. The last group of vendors are the seniors which usually have a residence permit and used to work outside of Rome but then moved to the capital city. They usually do not live directly in the center of Rome but in the surrounding areas. Between these three groups there is a hierarchy starting with the seniors and ending with the newcomers. There are many challenges which they must face. On the one hand they get exploited by the people which sublease their flats or bedrooms to the vendors and on the other hand they get excluded from the public space which often is (ironically) the only way for them to experience a little bit of privacy. When trying to earn some money by selling merchandise to tourists in popular public spaces they often get chased by police. Current policies make it hard to buy a license which allows people to sell merchandise in those public spaces. When caught, vendors can be charged with fines, expulsion, detentions and even revocation of their residence permit. The little money which they earn is often sent to their families in Bangladesh or used for housing and food. Often their families do not know about the living conditions of their husband or son. Vendors like to video chat with their families positioning themselves in front of a heritage monument. In Bangladesh it is a sign of achievement and brings a prestigious status in their country. Regarding the opinions of police officers, residents and tourists towards the vendors they range from racism and colorism to solidarity and even personal relationships. So far the situation of Bangladeshi street vendors.

Italian or Roman government tries to exclude groups of immigrants not only by withholding licenses and distributing fines and tighten other penalties but also through urban design. Urban design should empower the difference of immigrant groups and create spaces for them to be visible which is their right. Piazzoni gives a design approach which she calls “In Plain Site”. There could be installed permanent selling stalls for vendors, public toilets or more installations for people to stay and pause instead of removing all opportunities of pausing in public space which has been the trend for some while now. Not only vendors would benefit from this but also tourists for example. Another approach is to start changing the narrative of an exclusive identity by ignoring immigration during history at all. History and archaeology show that Italians have never been a homogenic population. In fact, immigration has been an essential key for Rome to become powerful. Slaves built the monuments which are now considered to be cultural heritage but are never mentioned when talking about this so called “cultural heritage”. Romans with different migration backgrounds fought in the military and helped to conquer more regions to enlarge the Roman Empire. Panels with information about slavery, colonialism, imperialism could be placed and this information should also be shared because it is a part of Italian history. All these measures can help to make immigrants visible and to improve their situation. They do have a right to be seen.

There is the question of why the government should adopt these approaches. On the one hand, these measures can help to reduce the unappealing aesthetic because it helps immigrants to settle. On the other hand, a public employment system could be established which is good for the economy because then taxes are being paid. And not to mention that public toilets can be useful for tourists as well not only immigrant groups. An intercultural narrative can also change or even improve the authenticity of Roman city center.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the situation of Bangladeshi street vendors has worsened as well. The Italian government seems to ignore these immigrant groups which does not help at all. Some of them moved to other European cities or back to Bangladesh, but many of them depend on begging now because they cannot earn money anymore by selling merchandise and do not get financial support. It is only one effect of excluding certain groups from a national narrative.


Wade 2019: L. Wade, Immigrants from the Middle East shaped Rome, in: Science 366, 2019, 673. Piazzoni 2020: F. Piazzoni, Visibility as Justice: Immigrant Street Vendors and the Right to Difference in Rome, in: Journal of Planning Education and Research, 2020, 1-16.

Ruprecht-Karls-Universität-Heidelberg Heidelberger Centrum für Transkulturelle Studien (HCTS) M.A. Cultural Heritage und Kulturgüterschutz Wintersemester 2020/2021 Seminar „Heritage in Interdisciplinary Perspective: Past, Present and Future of a Contested Concept“ Vorgelegt von: Melanie Schäffler Literature and Heritage Tourism From the early 1800s on literary tourism began to emerge and become more popular. Watson argues that it has something to do with the Europe-wide desire to connect books and localities with national identities and national literary cultures.3 During Victorian times literature first became accessible to the broader public which made possible the connection of certain literature pieces and national identity. Works like “Visits to Remarkable Places” and “Homes and Haunts of the Most Eminent British Poets” by William Howitt in 1840 and 1847 encouraged literary tourism by fusing travel-writing and literary biography. It shows the growing interest in visiting localities which relate to authors. These localities usually are Birthplaces, places where the authors grew up or where they were writing parts of their works. Famous examples can be found in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s hometown. At least seven places there are advertised to be connected to Shakespeare and serve as a museum nowadays. Another example is Jane Austen’s house in Chawton, where she wrote and revised her six novels. Tourists can even visit places where contemporary authors like J. K. Rowling were writing4. Another famous place which will be focused on in the following paper is the Hill Top Farm in the Lake District, which was Beatrix Potter’s former home. Tourism and authenticity aspects in connection with heritage will be discussed using Hill Top Farm as an example.

Beatrix Potter was an English writer, illustrator, natural scientist, and conservationist, but she is most famous for her children’s books, especially “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”. She lived from 1866 until 1943 and spent many years at Hill Top Farm which she had bought in 1905. It is still a working farm today and it has also been during Potter’s stay.5 After her death she left the Farm to the National Trust, a charity and membership organization for heritage conservation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland founded in 1895. Conservation of the places which it holds, is financed by members, donors, and commercial activities such as retail and catering.6 Tourists can now visit this farm which takes the function of a museum. The admission fee is 13 pounds for a time ticket which means there are certain time slots given to the visitors. It was first opened to the public in 1947 and since then visitor numbers have been increasing enormously. Not only the building itself gets preserved but also many movable artefacts which had been used by Potter herself such as a pair of shoes. Following the ICOM Code of Ethics, Hill Top Farm preserves, protects and provides opportunities for the appreciation, understanding and promotion of the natural and cultural heritage.7 Cultural heritage being Potter’s works of literature and scientific illustrations. 92% of visitors said to have spent a very or enjoyable time during their visit. Beilein points out that Potter tourism is especially attractive to women.8 This could be due to the fact that Potter is a strong role model and also identification figure. There are interesting aspects in her life and also her social standing can be easily identified with. “The Tale of Peter the Rabbit” was published in 1902 and has been translated into more than 32 languages since then. The first translation into a foreign language took place in 1912. It was translated into Dutch. Peter might be a British rabbit but he is very international. The basic story line is kept simple and traditional which makes it possible to be understood on an international level. Potter’s detailed illustrations support and enrich the narrative. This children’s book is especially famous in Japan where “cute” picture language is the basis of popular culture. Because of Potter’s popularity one can find a replica of the Hill Top Farm and large groups of Japanese visitors at the real place. This Disneyfication of Peter the rabbit can also be seen in the Lake District where there was established a Potter experience exhibition. This replica and the exhibition are staged touristic projects which are referred to as “staged authenticity”9. Following the constructivism approach towards authenticity tourists can have different perceptions of authenticity. It is a projection of conceptions and expectations onto perceived objects10. Tourists will often compare similar locations or situations and decide for themselves if the experience is authentic. Knowledge transfer can be a key here because which and how knowledge is transmitted (for example via guided tours) can change the tourists’ perception. Coming back to the actual Hill Top Farm and Potter’s literary works, this author became part of the British national identity as it is also strongly interwoven with the culture landscape of the Lake District. It would not look like it does if it were not for Beatrix Potter. As mentioned before she was a conservationist and it was important for her to leave the land she had acquired during her lifetime to the National Trust which is responsible for the conservation and making it the biggest land owner for this region. The Lake District is also a very popular region for holidays. Visitors usually belong to the British middle class due to the relatively high costs of accommodations.

Heritage is the same as history. History is the recording of the past, but heritage is closely linked to traditions. Potter’s literary works are handed down from one generation to the other which makes it tradition and so to say heritage. Visiting the author’s former house can let visitors experience deeper emotion by evoked memories of their own childhood or by identifying with the characters in the stories. It can also help to indulge oneself in the biography of the author and get closer to him or her. Literary places are a medium where values can be communicated. Potter herself was involved in social and cultural issues which are still communicated through the museum-like organisation of the Hill Top Farm. Museums are nevertheless places of communication and exchange of knowledge.

Historic houses work with the presence and absence of the people who once lived there. Original objects of the owners play a very important part in this. It can be referred to as “objective authenticity”11. The original is an intrinsic quality of the object whereas a copy or replica is the extrinsic quality of the object. Regarding the lit fireplace at the Hill Top Farm, the smell of fresh bread, which is created every day for the visitors’ experience, they represent the extrinsic qualities. Beatrix Potter’s original shoes which are displayed are the intrinsic quality due to their originality. Looking at the concept of the existential authenticity, there is an intrapersonal authenticity which involves the bodily feelings.12 The visitor can experience authenticity through senses and individual fulfilment. In this example it is the smell of fresh bread, the warmth of the fireplace and so on. The interpersonal authenticity refers to relationships.13 Objects can be used for bringing together interpersonal relationships. In this case the whole building can serve as a location of exchange and sharing experiences either with friends and family or with strangers which are met during the visit. As mentioned above the perception of authenticity can change from one visitor to the other. When looking at visitors they can be separated into two groups: Literary pilgrims and heritage tourists. Literary pilgrims usually have a deep connection to visiting the place because the author becomes spiritual in a way. Their visit becomes a spiritual event. This sacralisation of heritage sites can also be tied to creating national identity. These so-called pilgrims can have different expectations of a historic site to be an authentic experience than heritage tourists for example. Heritage tourists have different reasons for visiting a literary location. They sometimes visit the place spontaneously during their holiday stay.


Bauer-Krösbacher 2019 C. Bauer-Krösbacher, Authentizität im Tourismus. Eine Untersuchung am Beispiel historischer Gärten und Parks, Experience Design im Tourismus. Eine Branche im Wandel = Forschung und Praxis an der FH Wien der WKW 2 (Wien 2019) 103-117.

Julia Beilein, M. A., University of Bonn, The Potter Experience: Literature and Heritage, presentation during the seminar „Heritage in Interdisciplinary Perspective: Past, Present and Future of a Contested Concept“ at Heidelberg University on 11th February 2021.

Cohen 1979 E. Cohen, Rethinking the sociology of tourism, Annals of Tourism Research 6. 1, 1979, 18–35.

Wang 1999 N. Wang, Rethinking authenticity in tourism experience, Annals of Tourism Research 26. 2, 1999, 349–367.

Watson 2020 N. J. Watson, The Author’s Effects: On Writer’s House Museums (Oxford 2020).


1 Wade 2019, 673.

2 Piazzoni 2020.

3 Watson 2020, 2.

4 She finished the last book of “The Harry Potter Series” in the five-star 19th century luxury Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh. The room is decorated with an owl and a golden sign which says The J.K. Rowling Suite”. The Elephant House, a coffee shop in Edinburgh, where she wrote some parts of the third novel in the Series, became a popular tourist attraction. There are pictures of J. K. Rowling on the wall inside.

5 She left another 15 Lake District farms to The National Trust:

6 National Trust Annual Report 2018/19, 37.

7 ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums 2017.

8 Beilein during the seminar Heritage in Interdisciplinary Perspective: Past, Present and Future of a Contested Concept at Heidelberg University on 11.02.2021.

9 Cohen 1979.

10 Bauer-Krösbacher 2019, 110.

11 Bauer-Krösbacher 2019, 106

12 Wang 1999, 360-361.

13 Wang 1999, 364-365.

Excerpt out of 9 pages


European heritage of ancient cultures. 3 interdisciplinary essays
University of Heidelberg  (HCCH)
Seminar „Heritage in Interdisciplinary Perspective: Past, Present and Future of a Contested Concept“
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ISBN (eBook)
cultural heritage, interdisciplinary, literature on heritage, heritage and migration
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Melanie Schäffler (Author), 2021, European heritage of ancient cultures. 3 interdisciplinary essays, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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