As archaeologists, we have an interest in the signals being sent by politicians when they elect to appear with the Parthenon or the Pyramids as backdrops. It makes a difference as to how our work is received and interpreted by the public, but it may also determine how the site will fare afterward. In this article, the idea of the state visit as theatre is explored and archaeological and historical sites are discussed as backdrops against which texts are presented and subtexts are conveyed by performance.

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