Workshop ‘Europe Piece by Piece: a new look to the past’ at the National Museum of Archaeology/ Portugal at 19th April 2016

The workshop Europe piece by piece: a new look to the past was held on April 19th with the participation of a senior group at the National Museum of Archaeology. This group, which have already participated in other EMEE project activities – consisted of 15 elements of the Belém parish. This workshop, based on the Toolkit 1  Making Europe Visible, was adapted to this segment. Based on the ‘COP – Change of Perspective’ and ‘Making Europe and Visible’ concepts, the group was challenged to address these concepts at different levels.

The activity began with an introduction to the EMEE project, which substantiated the different approaches that were carried out. After this introduction, the group was invited to participate in the activity ‘Rome was not built in a day’, during which they had the opportunity to learn and touch on some building materials from the Roman times. The life experience of some of the participants soon allowed to begin an approach to the concepts under discussion, particularly concerning the way museums communicate, (especially those with archaeologic collections), and the everlasting character and contemporaneity of the building materials and the different ways they are tailored to different parts of Europe.

A visit to the exhibition Europe through our objects was then realized, where the participants were able to observe new forms of European contextualization of the displayed archaeological artefacts.

The group was then asked to walk around the museum, guided by a previously handed worksheet, with the goal of choosing among the objects on display those that, in their opinion and based only in the information conveyed in the labels, best represent Europe.

During a moment of reflection and debate about the selection made, and considering the chronology of displayed objects, European common elements stand out:

  •  The Celtic Culture, embodied in the statue of a pre – Roman warrior, considering it as a pan-European phenomenon;
  •   The cult of the dead, specifically through the funeral lianas of the Roman times, which during this period and later with Christianity, spreads throughout the European territory.
  •  Writing and Latin, as a supranational language (despite the regional adaptations that came to originate the current languages), visible in many inscriptions, especially public ones;
  •  Trade relations without borders, among different parts of Europe (which was part of the Roman Empire territory), and that somehow is visible in the different support materials of the objects, such as marble or different types of ceramic, glass or metal.


Finally, a guided visit to the exhibition Roman Lusitania. Origin of two people was also realized, where the concept ‘Making Europe Visible’ was once again addressed. The main theme of the exhibition – a Roman province which is currently divided in two countries (Portugal and Spain) – facilitated the approach. During this visit, the objects that illustrated the nine categories previously defined in this workshop (object as a migrant; cultural transfer using transregional networks; the object as an icon; etc.) were emphasized, thus promoting the interaction with the participants.

This visit, followed by a discussion of the ‘COP’ and ‘Making Europe Visible’ concepts, resulted in a new perception of the displayed objects by the participants, and topics such as the continuity or rupture of the various themes depicted in the exhibition, particularly art and religion, have also been addressed. The idea of the Roman Empire as a counterpoint to the present Europe, as in the use of a ‘lingua franca’ (Latin/ English), the European/ National law or the free movement of ideas or products was also discussed.


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