Well-being thorugh knowledge: the use of a simple tool to define the identity of cultural heritage

Ephorate of Antiquities of Larisa, Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports (Greece)

Alexander the Great said: to my father, I owe my being, to my teacher (Aristotle), I owe my well-being. With that phrase, the great Greek king revealed that well-being is a state of living that could be achieved only though education that generates knowledge.

A basic premise to produce well-being through cultural heritage is to define its identity. That could permit states and institutions to develop public policies magnifying the impact of cultural heritage on people and societies and thus transform it into an active factor of social, spiritual and economic life. The identity of cultural heritage is based on the knowledge of its basic ingredients, which are mainly the historic monuments and archaeological sites. The problem that arises at this point is that states with cultural richness, as Greece, tent to restrain the boundaries of their cultural heritage identity by promoting only emblematic monuments as Akropolis, Delphi, Vergina or Knossos. That policy though creates an identity which is impressive but deficient and unsustainable.

A cause of that condition is the fact that there is no collective research tool or database (at least for the case of Greece) where a scientist or a cultural heritage policy maker or manager could find information about monuments and archeological sites in order to shape a complete and clear perception of them that could permit interrelations, comparative studies and interconnections. That gap could be fulfilled, at least as a first step, with the formation of a database with software as MS Excel, which is widely known, familiar to all and easy to use. That simple to form and to update database can embody a variety of information (such as active links, pictures, pdf files and bibliography, coordinates and geolocation data) in only file, available to all cultural heritage experts and scientists.