The unconventional handbook where Italian archaeologists tell their stories between past and present



Being conceptually born as a project with the Day of Archaeology 2014, for Archeostorie today is sort of a milestone, when we check our progress and correct our faults. So, what has happened in the past 12 months, since we last narrated our adventure?

Oh man, it has been a hell of a journey!

While touring Italy to present our book “Archeostorie: unconventional handbook of real-life archaeology”, we were hosted by a countless number of amazing, creative, innovative and young archaeological teams all over the country.

Regardless of the obstacles and difficulties they had to face every day (we are still in Italy after all!), all and each of these projects radiated an overwhelming and contagious energy. And they were all moved by the same mission: making archaeology more accessible to everyone.

We realized that public archaeology as a discipline was growing both as a field of study and as a practice, but the Italian interpretation of the subject is still heavily under-investigated and unknown to the wider public.

Ibn Battuta, Moroccan traveler and scholar of the 14th century, used to say that: “traveling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Exactly like Ibn Battuta, we felt the need to spread awareness of all these amazing projects and at the same time encourage academic debate on public archaeology in Italy.

We decided to create a space where this shared mission could be articulated in a more organized manner. We found our space online, more precisely in two brand new websites: ARCHEOSTORIE Magazine and ARCHEOSTORIE Journal of Public Archaeology.

The Magazine – in Italian – is the place where we tell stories of interesting projects and events all over the country, we reflect on rising issues and report news. Moreover, since we believe that our past can be best communicated through creative stories, we collect our favorite original stories in the section Archeotales, and review other authors’ efforts in Archeoreview.

The Magazine was launched last November and grew very fast, both in terms of articles published and public reception: it is no exaggeration to say that, by now, it has become a most authoritative voice in Italy on archaeology and cultural heritage issues at large.

The Journal, instead, is the open access peer-reviewed scientific journal -in English – that provides Italy with an arena to discuss issues such as the management and communication of archaeological heritage and, more widely, the role of archaeology into contemporary society. With our first issue – coming out in November 2016 – we will produce insightful analyses on significant initiatives aimed at involving the public in archaeological and heritage issues, and bridging the gap between our past and modernity.

Our topic of the year is “Small but Kind of Mighty”. We believe that projects that work, and have enormous impact on the community they act in or society at large, “start small”, but are conceived by people who “think big”. Then they may choose either to stay small or to grow, but in both cases they can prove influential and powerful. Therefore we looked for papers concerning good small Public Archaeology projects whose powerful impact on society would be clearly measured, analysed and described, and we got a terrific response!

We are currently working hard in order to produce an amazing first issue that will hopefully become a milestone for Public Archaeology studies in Italy.

However, don’t forget to have a look at our Journal’s updates: you’ll find intriguing interviews to members of our Advisory Board, and there is much more to come in the following months.  Stay tuned!

By the way, how do you like our trailer?

Archeostorie: contemporary archaeology as a brand

Who is this amusing, coloured and cardboarded puppet that sustain the leaning Tower of Pisa?

archeostorie a pisa

It all started with last year’s Day of Archaeology. Until then, only few Italians were participating in the DoA, and we thought this should change. So we called to arms the Archeobloggers, i.e., a group of  archaeologists we had gathered together a few months before, who actively write about archaeology on the Web. It was a real success: the organizers even created a local category, “Italy”, in order to allow visibility to this wide collective enterprise.

DoA 2014 Italy

However, this was by no means a random participation: we were very careful in assigning to everyone a specific duty, according to the capabilities and professional experiences of each of them, so that we could show how many different things Italian archaeologists do. Moreover, we wanted to demonstrate that, even if very few of us work as “traditional” archaeologists in Universities or in the Public Cultural Heritage Administration, this doesn’t mean that most archaeologists are unoccupied, as common people in Italy generally assume. On the contrary, there is a wide variety of things that archaeologists can do, especially in the fields of management and communication of Cultural Heritage. Believe it or not, they are all real jobs you can make a living from!

To cut a long story short, we decided to turn our DoA posts into a book. Actually, a handbook for University students who have the right to know how many job opportunities can spring from a degree in Archaeology. Only few professors talk about real job opportunities in class, so we had to fill this incredible gap.

Archeostorie was published last March by Cisalpino-Monduzzi, collecting 31 exciting, compelling and fantastic stories. The subtitle runs “Unconventional handbook of real-life archaeology.” It was conceived for students but it turned out an incredibly readable book for everybody: a collection of  real, genuine adventures in archaeology. Archeostorie is therefore significantly contributing to raise public awareness of the relevance and importance of archaeology to the modern world, and it concretely shows people how useful our past is to modernity.

We added some posts to the DoA original ones in order to have a very wide overview: from experimental archaeology to reenactment and videogames, from video making to journalism and social media, from community archaeology to crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, from landscape planning to management and branding. You can see many of them on our colourful cover, painted by Francesco Ghizzani Marcìa, an archaeologist of course!

archeostorie copertina

We want archaeologists to be storyteller, and “Storyteller Archaeologist” (Archeologo Cantastorie) is the name of our mascot.

We asked everybody to tell good stories: significant episodes in their professional careers that would clearly explain what their job consists of, and what on hell they do every single day. We wanted narratives, and very concrete ones so that students could almost imagine to be side by side with each of us in a virtual training course.

It was not easy to have archaeologists create narratives. We made some of them rewrite their story several time, we rewrote several paragraphs ourselves, and our final editing work was a nightmare, but eventually we succeeded.

archeostorie in italia doa

We spent the past five months touring Italian Universities and public halls to present the book and discuss what really means to be an archaeologist today. But this is not the end: our “Archeostorie tour” is going on with several summer events and again presentations next fall and winter. Everybody is requesting our show: we bring excitement and positive ideas wherever we go, we are contagious. We demonstrate that archaeologists can actually take a leading role in our societies, provided they want it and strive for it.

We already reprinted the book and added a preface by Filippo Maria Gambari who drew a sort of history of the discipline in Italy from the times when it was mostly history of ancient art up to the Archeostorie movement, and a postscript by Daniele Manacorda who practically hands the torch to us and says we represent the future of archaeology. We are honored of these as well as of all the many positive and encouraging comments we received. We do not know if we are really designing our future, but we know we are clearly showing how powerful our discipline can be in the present. Archeostorie conveys strength and enthusiasm. Archeostorie is a source of inspiration and an occasion for discussion. Archeostorie, like it or not, is becoming a brand.


Cinzia Dal Maso, Francesco Ripanti