The importance of material heritage to the study of history and culture

Essay by muniswaran May 2004

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The importance of material heritage to the study of history and culture, and how far present efforts of conservation supports this.

1. Definition of heritage

1.1 Material heritage

1.2 Cultural heritage

2. The importance of heritage

2.1 How material heritage is important to the study of history and culture.

2.2 Importance of heritage to the inculcation of national identity.

3. Conservation and results

3.1 The types of conservation

3.2 Principals of conservation

3.3 What is being conserved (what is not)

3.4 To what extent are conservation efforts benefiting society.

3.5 The balance between conservation and development.

4. Conclusion

4.1 The importance of heritage to society

4.2 Areas of conservation that must be given more emphasis.

1. Definition

The Cambridge International Dictionary of English defines heritage as features belonging to the culture of a particular society, such as traditions, languages or buildings, which still exist from the past and which have a historical importance.

From this definition, it is clear that heritage goes further then to include cultural tradition and languages as part of heritage, as opposed to popular belief that heritage are merely material artefacts that ware made a significant amount of time ago. However, Cambridge does not go so far as to explain what is of historical importance. When does a certain artefact or cultural practise stops becoming historically important, and does this happen because of passage of time, where it is too old to make a difference to society or because the way society evolved? More often than not, what is considered fascinating has nothing in common with present practices.

A good example of this is the mummification practises of the ancient Egyptian people. The research done on this subject has sparked public interest both locally and internationally. However, it is clear that this custom is not...