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VU-archaeologists in international spotlights

18 August 2021
Excavating ancient artefacts and settlements is not enough for VU archaeologist and CLUE+ director Gert-Jan Burgers. In the context of a prestigious Marie Curie ITN grant on heritage planning, of over 4 million euro, he is experimenting with innovative ways of heritage valorisation.

This week, one of his labs has received international recognition for innovating culture heritage management. In close collaboration with Italian archaeologists and authorities, he has turned an archaeological excavation into a landscape reserve, a multifunctional space, open for theatre and music festivals, story telling, workshops and, since this week, also a large green area, growing vegetables. 

Burgers  directs a long standing excavation and valorisation programme at the site of Muro Tenente, in between extensive olive groves near Brindisi, in the deep South of Italy. The area hides the ruins of an ancient fortified town. Recently, it has been turned into an archaeological park (Parco dei Messapi), managed by Burgers and the Cooperative IMPACT, under the auspices of the local municipalities and the Italian Ministry of Culture. 

Far from being a traditional museum park, however, the site has become a centre of experimentation with innovative heritage initiatives. Today, a musical event took place at the spot, as part of a summer festival called ‘Appia in Tabula’. Also, this week the fruits are being picked of a hectare large, newly planted, green area. The harvest, of vegetables in particular, is very rich. The vegetables are partly being sold to finance the excavations, and partly being donated to social institutions. The initiative has been much lauded in Italian news papers, as a very successful example of innovation in the heritage sector, combining heritage with green and social ambitions