The history of material culture has become an important tool in order to achieve a better knowledge of given landscapes and increase their cultural wealth. These studies are very useful for planning different typologies of land valorisation, such as ecomuseums. At the same time, they acquired an essential value to promote new forms of sustainable development and cultural tourism. After an initial discussion about the history of the concept of material culture, above all with relation to recent theoretical trends of biological and natural sciences, the paper will show the potentialities of these historical and scientific studies to analyse the management of natural resources during the history of a given settlement and the relationships between productive human activities and the environment of cohabitation. In such a way, the material proofs of the past could be a useful information source to recognize persistences, changes and vocations of a given landscape.
Keywords: History of material culture; cultural ecology; ecomuseums; history of techniques; landscape conservation; sustainable development.