Archaeological Excavations In Progress, 2021

Artist: -

Venue: Castle of Prizren

In the past ten years Kosovo has undertaken major infrastructural works—highways and bypasses—seeking a more connected future. In these efforts, the past is often encountered through the excavation of remains of ancient paths. These revelations represent a critical moment in which future developments threaten the treasures of the past. In some cases the highway construction route could be diverted to save archaeological heritage, but in other instances the past was erased in the name of development. During highway construction projects throughout Kosovo, such as the one on display, many ancient settlements have been found and subsequently endangered. Some of these sites have been researched and documented, and many archaeological remains have been placed in the Castle of Prizren.

Archaeological findings dating back to the Neolithic period are exhibited in the main hall of the Museum of the Castle of Prizren. The display highlights the importance of the common past, lessons to be learned by studying it, and the essential role this generation plays in safeguarding it for future generations. The second hall of the museum is used mainly as a workshop for students of archaeology at the University of Prishtina and is now open to the public. The archaeological findings presented show the clash between development and safeguarding, as they were excavated near the highway construction in central Kosovo. These remains are carefully documented, classified, and sorted. Part of these have been evaluated as important evidence of archaeological culture and will be conserved and exhibited, while other parts will be buried back into the ground.

These efforts lead to a set of questions: How do we define cultural heritage? What is the base criteria to distinguish what should be conserved and what not? How do we draw a line between conservation and development? And how can contemporary art mediate in this process?

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