Written by By Roslan Khasawneh, CNN
In centuries past, traveling back to the lost city of Atlantis meant making use of acrobatics and other startling feats of will.
Today, that vision of wonder is striking out elsewhere: heading to Saudi Arabia, for example, or even Indonesia, where top city temples are being built inside mosques and bringing a more progressive vision to a country once known as the “the last Islamic state.”
The lost city of Atlantis
As gladiators and pirates wait in line to make their way to history’s most legendary city, archaeologists are struggling to unravel the mysteries of Atlantis.
Today, its fate is in the hands of King Abdulaziz Al Saud, a man who proclaimed the Arabian Peninsula a capital of Islamic learning just over a century ago.
His heritage is one much appreciated in academia and rich cultural repertoires. It’s part of a process of urban reclamation that, in recent years, has seen the open-air viewing of ancient sites expand to sprawling modern parks with art installations and bright colors.
Of course, not everyone has embraced this new tourism trend.
The city of Cairo is currently on edge after an attack there on a guided tour led by the Muslim Brotherhood , a powerful and disciplined group that has pledged support for ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who is in prison.
The nature of modern living is to create more public space to see different views of our past and future, while celebrating communal memory, says Jeremy Johnson, a professor of history at the University of Arizona. But what gets lost in the transition from past to present day is the possibility of “instinctive preservation,” which draws from personal experience.
“When we think about preserving an object, we tend to consider it for its practical value, as being presentable, fit for use, relevant, aesthetically pleasing or functional,” Johnson says. “But instinctually, we want something preserved in its own particular way — or at least seem to.”
According to Johnson, this shift can be traced back to the future movement, which takes us away from notions of object as unique thing, and emphasizing the power of action that “returns the item to its moment of identity,” in a phrase Johnson coined.