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By Arnold Hugh Martin Jones

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Nora’s work, and not least the concept he developed, attempts to come to terms with what happened to collective memory during modernization, when the ‘organic’ memory of the traditional milieux de mémoire had dissolved and modern history was taking its place. Nora’s answer is that the lieux de mémoire developed as a kind of substitute to the older forms of memory in an age of modern history. In his much-cited words, the sites of memory are like ‘shells on the shore when the sea of living memory has receded’ (Nora 1989: 12).

Consequently, nothing of what is being said originally concerned peasants in Hallingdal, in the past or present. The passage refers mainly to Xenophon’s In Search of Ancient Heroes • 43 description of the ritual banquets of the Thracians (in Anabasis), while the Ovidian quote is taken from Metamorphoses.

At the same time, it was closely related to the other main aspect of antiquarianism, the fundamental interest in materiality. Despite the dominant role of texts in the antiquarian work examined here, it is also obvious that the antiquaries’ interest in texts was different from that of the historians. While the writers of history were occupied with the teachings that could be drawn from history, and with describing events and deeds 32 • From Antiquities to Heritage of political and military consequence, the aim of the antiquaries was rather to connect these persons, deeds and events with landscape, sites and artefacts.

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Constantine and the Conversion of Europe by Arnold Hugh Martin Jones


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