This guide creates the opportunity for participants to learn about archeological methods, to explore how archeological interpretations are made, to ascribe meaning to archeological resources, and to increase public understanding and concern for the preservation and protection of archeological resources.
Visitors to many National Parks see the results of archaeology. Parks in the Southwest come to mind most readily because the spectacular ruins have been well publicized, but nearly all parks have archaeological resources. Often the archaeology is less visible, but is fundamental to the park's purpose. Archeological resources are actively interpreted in hundreds of national parks, monuments and recreation areas across the nation.
Many parks offer a variety of ways for visitors to learn about archaeology: tours, pamphlets, interpretive trails and roadside displays, films, and book sales in the visitors center. In most National Parks archaeologists are not directly involved with the public but provide essential information to the “front-line” interpretive staff who then convey it to visitors. Less frequently, visitors see actual excavation in progress and get to talk to actual archeologists. Web links and suggested interpretive strategies in the For Your Information, Case Study, Try It Yourself, and Fun Fact sections present examples of how archeological resources may be effectively interpreted in the national parks. Look for Use What You Know sections that encourage you to Assess Your Knowledge. When this online course is used in a formal educational setting, answers to these (and possibly additional) assessment questions may be evaluated by instructors.