Physically, remnants are pieces of objects from the past. They are a part, not the whole, they are fragments of what once was. They bring together the past and present and in doing so they show how the past continues into the present.
Intellectually, as a parallel with our culture, remnants represent our current norms that have developed and evolved over time, including the many past learnings carried across generation into the present. Remnants suggest the cultural anchor we live with; the inertial forces that keep us going along a path, evolved through trans-generational change and exposure to other cultures. As fragments, they infer both change and resilience. As some fragments persist, and others do not, suggesting that some things change easier than others. We might lose our cultural language before our eating habits.
As a glimpse of the past, they provide a sense of what once was and as such, they might leave us with a sense of nostalgia. As objects from what is often thought to be a simpler time, they carry a sense of authenticity, untarnished by today’s processes of mass-production.
Tourists are often drawn to ruins of ancient sites for many of the reasons cited above. Site operators realise this and will work to maintain them. Being designated as a World Heritage Site validates its pedigree. Yet when a site becomes so attractive, and draws so many tourists, it can become overwhelmed and its historical character becomes subverted into something like an amusement park.