What happens when Archaeology Threatens the Tourist Trade

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"What happens when Archaeology Threatens the Tourist Trade"
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What happens when archaeology threatens the tourist trade?
An amateur archaeologist and historian claims to have worked out the real island where Homer's hero Odysseus lived. And it's not the one the Greek tourist authorities have been profiting from for years from Homer buffs and the general run of wandering tourists. Now it's not the Greeks' fault, they have been working on what until now has been considered as reliable evidence, but it highlights a problem for tourist authorities.
It happens a lot at sites which are hailed as the "true home" of a hero or herione. The Greeks have Odysseus and the rest of the group of heroes and heriones from their history and/or mythology. In the UK we have King Arthur. A lot of people "know" where King Arthur's Camelot was, where he was born, where he is buried and the many hills where he is supposed to be hiding until England needs him - and there are thriving tourist industries which rely on some people believing the attribution. Most people know by now that while the Britons may have had a war leader of some kind called Arthur who helped them fight the initial invasions of the Anglo-Saxons in the fifth century or thereabouts he wasn't a king, didn't have a round table and lived in an earthen hillfort rather than a fantasy castle; and even what we think we know is far from certain. But tourist authorities naturally don't want to make a fuss of all this "fact".
The question is, what do tourist authorities do about historical and archaeological evidence which wrecks the basis of their profits from particular sites?
There's not a lot they can do without standing in the way of progress. And unless a historical attribution can be proved - for example that the Queen of England lives in the palaces that are attributed to her because millions of people have seen her turning up at them - then the possibilities of Odysseus's amateur home finder turning up at other sites around the world is a constant danger.
This should be incorporated into their business plans. Let's say I open a market stall on a site I know might be turned into a parking lot. I'll spend hundreds on setting the stall up, but I'll try to keep some back to finance the search for a different site if the parking lot ever sees the light of day. The one thing I won't do is complain that the parking lot has ruined my business - I went into the market stall business on that site with my eyes open and can't complain that a threat I knew about sees the light of day.
So the inhabitants of the island of Ithaki, who naturally have sold much of their produce on the back of the fact that Odysseus lived on an island called Ithaca, should do little more than shrug their shoulders at the suggestion that what Odysseus called Ithaca is in fact the peninsula of Paliki on the island of Kephalonia which was once separated from the main island and therefore an island in its own right.
I'll admit it is a bit unfair. Kephalonia already has memories of Captain Corelli's Mandolin (a book and movie set on the island which became hugely successful in the UK; I'm not sure of their reception in the US) to keep the tourists coming, and now it has one of the greatest heroes of all.
Be happy, citizens of the US; your heroes and heroines came after the invention of newspapers and mass printing - this is a problem your great and and hallowed sites will never suffer from.

More about this author: John Reynolds

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