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The question remains, can the past turn into a commodity and be consumed?

The consumerist world has a close relationship with production. It is noteworthy that a consumerist society desires to accumulate in abundance Goodwin et al. Excavating archaeological sites, archaeologists have recovered thousands of culture material, most of which have remained meaningless for millenniums Trigger Working on an ancient site is similar to working in a factory producing historic objects.

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Once products are pro- duced, museums are established. All these facilities and processes make the consumption of culture material possible see Thomas Archaeology, like any other factory, has its own waste. The people? Who are these consumers? Ordinary people? The academic staff? Organizations, governmental systems, or with a broader perspective, capitalism? Production of icons and informa- tion have replaced that of goods as seen in social networks and media.

According to Baudrillard , we encounter three symbolic concepts: symbolic exchange, production, and representation. Through these con- cepts, we observe the process of turning the past into a commodity and consuming it Outka These three concepts may seem separated, but they are, in fact, interconnected.

In this perspective, modernity enters a cir- cular process of exchange, in which all forms of the past have lost the tra- ditional values and like empty capsules can be filled with any meaning Baudrillard This perspective has created a gap between the modern and previous meanings attributed to archaeological culture material. These materials, which in their producing days were functional and meaningful things, are being consumed nowadays Arnold et al.

Jacques Lacan

The past used to be consumed in various ways in literature, antiquarianism, and romanti- cism Shanks With the start of modernity and mass production, the concept of consumption has become inseparable from the modern society, so much so, that the past is being represented in the modern society as mostly nonfunctional culture material desired to be consumed endlessly Baudrillard The commodity of the past would be sold within sym- bolic networks of modern society in diverse brands for all social classes.

Old versions of identification were useless after the rise of modern governments and were replaced by nationalism and conformity. Instead of tribal, religious, or local forms of identification, a new nationally unifying concept is required. This new identity needs to find its own origi- nality based on history.

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In this new form of validating a nation, new bor- ders got their meaning from the past Mondal in order to separate the nation from others. New borders, which have been drawn politically on mere neutral-natural coordinates, need spilt blood to be validated. And the past was used as a political weapon for the purpose of justifying these bloody wars see.

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Zassorin A new form of propaganda, different from the older versions, emerged. In such a society, museums represent a new religion in which faith is defined through the antiques; the sculptures found in ancient layers made by ancestors of a nation, and the goods which were stored and exhibited in modern temples called museums; the past had to be consumed!

noc18-hs31-Lecture 28-Literature and psychoanalysis(V): Jacques Lacan

Consumption of the past is one of the worst cul- tural catastrophes of the past century. Rulers of the world have discovered how to use the past, as a new weapon to suppress the society and make masses conform. To justify repression and genocides, totalitarians show off the past as a reason for conformity and further their goals.

Archaeology helps such sys- tems to establish their identity, find the icons, and propagate them. This is, in fact, how the commodity of archaeology is imported to the Middle East Abdi , ; Papoli and Garazhian Recycling ancient monuments is the first step in reconstruction of the past. Reconstruction of ruins in the Middle East is the first step towards consuming the past by colonizers Aubet The agreements of the Ira- nian governments and the Ottoman Empire allowed antiquarians to cap- ture their heritage and culture material see Dieulafoy During —, after the demise of the ancient empires of Iran and Ottoman, the Middle East was divided into new countries that were now in need of new identities more than ever.

One application of history by power discourse is the use of historic events as the background to current events Collingwood This sentiment was passed down through various Iranian governments. Even after the transi- tion of power from the Qajar Dynasty to the Pahlavi Monarchy, little changed in this regard. The Aryan myth was discussed by linguist scholars see.

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During the cele- brations, Mohammad Reza Shah invited hundreds of politicians, kings, queens, presidents, and artists to bear witness the glory of ancient Iranian kings at Persepolis. The tomb of Cyrus II, a year-old monument was given a new meaning, again. The connection of Achaemenid ruins to the Pahlavi monarchy was exaggerated to the point that later vandalism of these ruins became a priority. After the revolution in Iran, some individuals tried to demolish Achaemenid ruins because they believed these monuments were icons of the Pahlavi monarchy.

Heads of states seek to legitimize their own power through consuming the past.

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Every new power structure draws continuity from the past. Competing political groups also try to find new historic alternatives to legitimize their own demand for power. The possession of archaeological objects is a political victory in and of itself; therefore, archaeology remains governmental Papoli and Garazhian Objects are separated from their context and prepared for new roles. The Cyrus Cylinder is known as the first evidence and declaration of human rights Finkel In such a case, a material object easily moved from the physical to symbolic realm Dodd and Boytner Consuming the past occurs in the form of symbolic exchange Figure 5 Baudrillard In the case of archaeological culture material, the exchange of objects is a routine custom during political meetings.

The exchanged objects are made void of their meanings and filled with modern political concepts: icons of two nations united Holtorf This type of competition increases conflict among political powers seeking to exclusively own the past. Saddam Hossein as a Babylonian king struggling with Iranian.

Abdi , 27 Figure 3. Rajib Tayyib Erdigan in Seljuk Palace. In this context, an archaeologist is not viewed as a pro- fessional studying the ruins, rather as a labourer for the factory of produc- ing the past. The Past as a Distinctive Icon The concept of the past as a distinctive icon is closely integrated into everyday life in modern societies. For instance, the past appears in many forms such as luxuries, tourism, and museums Richards ; Falk ; Baudrillard Being proud of the representation of the past is con- sumption of the past to some extent White and Frew The official page of Reza Pahlavi on Face- book encounter ancient objects directly or observe them through media Deery Media access to the past is unique to our time as formerly, only the well-off class had access to private collections and museums Thomas Figure 5.

President Rouhani right photo and the director of Iranian Cultural her- itage organization Dr. On the other hand, archaeological evidence may be peculiarly susceptible to manipula- tion for nationalistic purposes Kohl Seemingly, a common characteristic of modern societies is to represent their past in its most glo- rious form.

In a capitalist economy, the past is consumed, and in capitalist politics, the past is glorified in an exaggerated manner to be used for polit- ical purposes Figure 6. In totalitarian contexts, the previous identity is replaced by a new one. Societies suffer- ing from the inferiority complex have to refer to their glorious past in order to compensate for their modern situation.

This is true for the mod- ern Middle East, which is comprised of countries divided by the pressure of colonizers whose own identities are separated from their past. It is a safe assumption that such intense interest in the past is a reaction to the unstable political and social conditions. Psycholog- ically speaking, every individual seeks to use the past as a tool of identifica- tion.

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However, the government aggressively seeks to address a national identity as well. In the Middle East, the past acts as opium for forgetting the pain. In Middle Eastern countries, museums are also the representative icons of the past, places where people are able to connect directly to their dead ancestors and their glory.

In museums, touching the objects remains an unattainable fantasy. Every individual has to stare at the objects from behind the glass windows surrounding the evidence of the past. Similar to viewing of a statute of Osiris or Hermes in Egyptian temples or Aura Mazda in a Persian temple, the issue becomes seeing versus not seeing, and touching versus no touch- ing.

The German government held tours for Syrian refugees to remind them how civilized the refugees used to be. However, now the descendants of those who produced the past admire the colonizers instead. Cyrus tomb in Spring Iranian new year. Very strange! Figure 7. Unlike in galleries, consuming objects in a museum is symbolic.

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No one sells or buys the objects, rather they observe them. Through these con- sumptive objects, we seek to redefine ourselves and determine our place in the global order Bourdieu The archaeological object charac- terizes its producing time and society. Like in a theatre, the audience pays to watch the play, not to buy a commodity but to only watch. Therefore, a fundamental difference between consuming a regular product and an archaeological object is that the ancient object is not located in the chain of production, even though its copies are.

Archae- ological objects have been produced once, centuries ago, and are being reproduced in modern times in the form of replicas and aesthetically pleas- ant modern objects, movies, lectures, and documentaries. In Museums, the exhausted presence of ancient objects is admired: objects that started with different beginnings and ended up with a similar destiny. As if no one remembers that before excavation and revival by archaeologists, these objects were rubbish buried under tons of debris. Ancient objects are demanded as commodities and are presented to satisfy the consumer.

This thing is a sign of home, a sign of displacement, adversity, and glory at the same time. Refugees viewing these objects are filled with emotions unfathomable for the colonizers. There are twofold sentiments at play: of love and hate, and of weakness and power. Should Middle Eastern- ers be happy for finding out that their heritage plundered and brought somewhere out of their own region? Native people of the Middle East in many cases metaphorically see the pieces of ruins as their own identity broken into pieces needing to be returned and reconsolidated at home.

This is not a modern phenomenon see Hamilakis and is known to have started with early political conflicts. Graffitis are carved by missioners, tourists, and ordinary people on the monuments Merrill and are studied as a form of vandalism. In modern art, intentional demoli- tion is a form of artistic reaction as well as political dissent. For ISIS, demolition of ancient ruins is meant to send a violent message. Images of ruins being demolished are produced and propagated similar to that of executions or beheading ceremonies. Ruins are symbols of Resurrection of Decline; they have been demol- ished once and then resurrected by archaeologists; the god of archaeology brought them back to life.