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Archaeology and Society at the Beginning of the 21st Century

Mircea Babes*

The beginning of archaeology in the 18th of the ancestors – Getae and Dacians. At the
century is related to the rediscovery and syste- same time, „dacism“ - a theory which reduces
matic study of the classical Greco-Roman cul- the origin of the Romanian people to the Daco-
ture. In the particular field of prehistory and pro- Getic element exclusively, was spreading among
tohistory, archaeology reached the status of an the dilettantes. Surprisingly, this theory was pro-
autonomous discipline not earlier than the se- moted under the national-communistic regime of
cond half of the 19th century, coinciding with Nicolae Ceausescu,
, and was reborn more recent-
the birth of modern European nations and the ly once again in the transitional period we are
growth of an interest in their origins. In order to currently going through. Unfortunately, the
identify the „ancestors“ and to reconstitute their political power and the society as a whole are
ancient history it was necessary to appeal to pre- still sending out signals which show that natio-
historic and protohistoric archaeology. The nalism has survived and that it continues to rely
noble origin and all the other qualities of these on history and archaeology for its survival. In
ancestors had to be convincingly emphasised by Western Europe historical arguments are also
archaeological findings. In various European used in current political debates. Recently these
countries, archaeology was contaminated by this debates are not related to national traditions but
disease at different times: in France during the to European traditions and integration issues.
reign of Napoleon III, in neighbouring Germany The titles of such archaeological exhibitions as
under Kaiser Wilhelm I, in Romania in the early „I Celti, prima Europa“ (Venice 1991) or „Die
20th century. Vasile Pârvan (1882-1927) was by Franken – Wegbereiter Europas“ (Mannheim,
no means a nationalist. However in his major Berlin, Paris 1996-97) reflect a political abuse of
work, Getica. O protoistorie a Daciei (1926), we archaeology, which is unacceptable even if
encounter occasionally an idealised description „politically correct“.

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