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Title: The presentation and interpretation of early Christian heritage in Malta : past, present and future
Author: Farrugia, Glen
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 8507
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis draws on a core component of Maltese cultural heritage, namely the islands’ late Roman and Byzantine catacombs, and explores the methods of their interpretation and presentation via a transdisciplinary approach. The preliminary hypothesis which shapes the arguments in this study acknowledges the important archaeological research conducted on these sites since the early 19th century but questions the approach and core interpretations of many scholars, which has come to hinder our understanding of these catacombs scientifically and through heritage interpretation. To shed light on this hypothesis, this doctoral research investigates how catacombs – which comprise the earliest evidence of early Christianity in Malta – have been presented, interpreted, managed and restored from their (re)discovery to modern times. This thesis considers four sectors, namely Tourism, Heritage Operations, Education and Academia, as the main pillars upon which heritage interpretation should be developed. Therefore, the core arguments offered centre on the evaluation of these four sectors vis-a-vis the main principles of heritage interpretation that are considered key to achieve best practices in this field. The methods of evaluation are based on qualitative and quantitative research (or mixed-method approach); these are employed to cater for the non-homogenous sectors under study. Therefore, semi-structured questionnaires were administered to individuals visiting Maltese catacombs as well as to professional and semi-professional personnel, including: Primary Teachers who accompany school children at these sites, Curators who manage early Christian hypogea, Gallery Site Officers who run the day to day operations of the catacombs and Tourist Guides. The data obtained for these surveys was enriched by non-directive interviews carried out with other key participants, namely, university students reading Archaeology. Primary research questions consist of: to whom and in what ways is the Maltese early Christian archaeological heritage being presented? What can be done to improve the cultural heritage experience sought by different audiences who visit catacombs for touristic, educational, recreational and academic purposes? It is argued that it is essential to understand the perception of both ‘recipients’ and ‘providers’ of heritage interpretation because both are ‘stakeholders’ in this past. From such a multidisciplinary and holistic approach we can more effectively evaluate the present state and quality of Malta’s heritage and offer ways forward for a possible self-sustaining early Christian archaeological heritage.
Supervisor: Christie, Neil ; Appleby, Joanna Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available