Monitoring public perceptions of an ongoing archaeological project, although often discussed, is still a marginal activity suppressed by the excavation and laboratory routines. The problem remains even if the research team is strongly oriented towards the broadest possible dissemination of the archaeological information, as in the case of Dispilio, a Neolithic lake-side settlement in Northern Greece.

We have realized that, far from being interested in the research aims/objectives of our work, the locals determine their attitude based on a continuous assessment of the value of our “product”, either this is an economic value (as it is understood by the person renting rooms, selling food, the workers, the landowners, the shepherds, the fishermen) or an ideological one (as it is understood by the local priest that rejects every un-Christian piece of work and needs the excavation site for church festivities, the Mayor that hopes to be re-elected, the politicians that elaborate their cultural policies, every member of the community and the community as a whole that uses our product to formulate their collective identity) or even both.

On the other hand, talking to the visitors we realize that, regardless our explanatory efforts (the guided tours offered, brief leaflets, guide books etc), a communication gap actually exists and as the visitors’ number increases we have the feeling that the gap gets wider. The approving remarks or the flattering comments are rarely based on the focal points of our endeavor and hardly ever take into consideration our interpretations.

The visitor’s book that is capturing some of these impressions since 1996, can offer an evaluation tool. Needless to say that the sample we have –as a percentage of the whole number of visitors- may not be quite representative and the written comments do not constitute the most explicit way of expression. Nevertheless, closer examination can reveal some interesting issues for further elaboration.


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