Tuesday, September 28, 2010

profitablity of the past

A Bulgarian archaeologists claims to have found the relics of St. John the Baptist (in Bulgaria, naturally). I have no comment on the veracity of the claims, but I did think that this story by an English-language Sofia news agency was refreshingly forthright in its coverage of the economic benefits of the finds. In the Middle Ages, towns throughout Christendom begged, borrowed, stole, or faked relics - and took advantage of real ones, of course - for exactly these reasons:

"Investments in history and in archaeology are very profitable for whichever country," said Simeon Djankov, Bulgaria's Finance Minister.

According to him, the return would be about 200 times, while the investment in archaeological heritage in general does not cost much.

"It is worth investing there for archaeology's sake as well, and also because of the new job positions it would create. Investments in this sector return repeatedly and in a relatively short period of time," Djankov said.

He has explained that if there are archaeological landmarks and other attractions, "tourists might decide to stay there not for a day, but for two or three days."

You should read the story. It's short, but interesting, and the Bulgarian Diaspora Minister uses some rather shocking language.

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