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Additional Full Performance Level Competency

Module 440: Effective Interpretation of Archaeological Resources

Content Outline:

Information on each of the entries in the content outline may be found on-line in "Archeology for Interpreters: A Guide to Knowledge of the Resource" []

A. Why we do interpretation and how it meets the NPS mission.

1. Content: Provides knowledge about why we do public interpretation of archeology. Provides knowledge about how archeological interpretation helps the NPS meet its mission. Note: Use NPS Interpretive Development Program Curriculum Module 101, “Fulfilling the NPS Mission: The Process of Interpretation” as a guide. Additional interpretive modules support skills such as the interpretive talk and walk, informal roving interpretation, interpretive planning and interpretive writing, etc.
2. Learner Objectives:

a. Explain why the NPS interprets archeology in parks.
b. Explain how the interpretation of archeology meets the NPS Mission.

B. The interpreter's role in public interpretation of archeology in the parks.

1. Content: Provides knowledge and skills necessary for the learner to produce successful interpretive presentations that create emotional and intellectual connections to archeological resources. (Use a case study)
2. Learner Objectives: Knows park interpretive themes and identifies their relationships to
the archeological record. (Discuss examples)

C. The archeologist's role in public interpretation of archeology in the parks.

1. Content: Provides relevant research and resources necessary to create successful
interpretive presentations that create emotional and intellectual connections to archeological resources. (Discuss examples)
2. Learner Objectives:

a. Seeks out intangible and universal meanings in archeological resources that provoke imaginations, and build constituents with strong stewardship ethics.
b. Uses examples of interpretive programs that illustrate intangible and universal meanings in tangible archeological resources.
c. Knows park interpretive themes and identifies relationships to the archeological record. (Use a case study)

D. Archeologists and interpreters working together.

1. Content: Provides examples of successful collaboration between interpreters and archeologists. (Cite examples from national park units. Use example of interpretation that may result in stewardship through visitor revelation.)
2. Learner Objectives:

a. Ensure the archeological heritage in national park units is accessible and available to all people. (Cite examples from national park units)
b. Provide experiences that strengthen recognition, understanding, enjoyment, and preservation of the nation's archeological heritage.
c. Create opportunity for audiences to ascribe meanings to archeological resources, leading to concern for protection of the resource.
d. Create the seed of resource stewardship through this revelation; This revelation is not simply a recitation of research data, and scientific facts.

E. Importance of teamwork.

1. Content: Provides training in how to work as a part of a team. Provides examples of successful teamwork.
2. Learner Objectives:

a. Joint participation produces well-balanced, holistic interpretive plans that accurately reflect management concerns, attention to all resources, and addresses major park themes.

b. Archeologists and interpreters actively seek to integrate current archeological information into personal and non-personal interpretive services.

c. Archeologists and interpreters understand interpretive themes, techniques, and opportunities.

d. Archeologists and interpreters actively contribute or solicit input from other experts to produce or present well balanced, multiple perspective interpretive media.

e. Archeologists and interpreters frequently interact and discuss the status of archeological projects, programs, actions, and how they might be relevant to interpretative programs.

f. Archeologists provide training opportunities (formal or informal) to park interpreters, keeping them apprised of current research, new theories and possible conflicting explanations about the park's archeological record.

F. Personal and professional responsibilities.

1. Content: Discusses the personal and professional responsibilities inherent in the
professions of interpretation and archeology and how these fit together to provide an increased visitor awareness of the need to preserve and protect the nations cultural resources.
2. Learner Objectives:

a. Present archeological information in understandable, jargon-free language.

b. Evaluate archeological research and/or projects for inclusion of interpretive and educational components that relate to park themes and significance.

c. Know how the archeological profession contributes to the goals of interpretation and actively seeks ways to meet these common goals.

d. Demonstrate multiple methods to contribute to public education programs, while meeting the mission of the National Park Service.

e. Contribute to interpretative and education programs, to develop strong public support and stewardship for increased protection of archeological resources nationwide.

f. Work together to meet common goals to ensure public support for protection of irreplaceable archeological resources.

G. Sensitivity.

1. Contents: Discusses issues of sensitivity (such as avoiding subject matter that is offensive or misleading about a cultural group) that affect both fields and how these issues are dealt with by each profession; discusses how the NPS mission fits with these areas of sensitivity; discusses how to approach sensitive topics and multiple points of view with the public.
2 . Learner Objectives:

a. Develops awareness and acknowledgment of multiple meanings connected to archeological resources.

b. Shares these viewpoints with one another and the public.

c. Archeologists provide interpreters with resources and information on traditional interpretations of archeological resources.

d. Understands that traditional perspectives exist that may contradict or disagree with archeological research, but recognizes traditional perspectives as alternative interpretations, resulting in a complementary presentation of the whole story.

H. The past, present, and future of archeology.

1. Brief history of archeology [one chapter overview].
2. Archeology as a science: basic archeological concepts and methods.

a. Time

(1)Geologic Time
(2) Relative Time

• Stratigraphy and Seriation
• Crossdating
• Horizon markers and determinants

(3) Absolute Time [Use examples that are regionally appropriate]

• Radiocarbon dating
• Obsidian hydration
• Thermoluminescence
• Dendrochronology
• Mean Ceramic Dating

b. Archeological Context: The critical nature of context in determining archeological relationships
c. Artifact Analysis

(1) Form
(2) Artifacts as time markers

d. Site Formation Processes

(1) How sites form initially
(2) Long-term determinants of preservation

• Climate
• Soil
• Plant, animal and human activities

e. Site Discovery

(1) Pedestrian Survey
(2) Geophysical prospecting
(3) Remote Sensing
(4) Historical Research
(5) Predictive Models

f. Mitigation of Cultural Resources

(1) Excavation
(2) Backfilling
(3) Impact avoidance measures
(4) Mitigation as a cultural resource management tool

g, Environmental Archeology

(1) Zooarcheology
(2) Paleobotany
(3) Soil analysis
(4) Geomorphology

h. Preservation and Stabilization Activities

(1) Conservation/stabilization techniques
(2) Museum specimens/exhibits
(3) Archives/data storage
(4) Integration with other park resources

i. Prehistorical and Historical Archeology

(1) History/development
(2) Differences in method and approach

I. Laws, regulations, and NPS policies.

1. Content: Concise explanations of laws, regulations and NPS policies that affect cultural resources and interpretation.

2. Laws, Executive Orders, and Regulations: Antiquities Act of 1906; National Historic Preservation Act of 1966; National Environmental Policy Act of 1969; Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979; Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990; Executive Order 11593; 36 CFR 800; Moss-Bennett; E.O. 1139; 1811 USC; Reservoir Salvage Act of 1960; NPS Organic Act of 1916; others.

3. Applicable state and local laws

4. Policies: NPS Management Policies and Director's Order No. 28, Cultural Resource Management; National Register Bulletins.

5. Park Enabling Legislation, Park Overview and Assessment, landmarks, others

6. Cultural Resource Management (CRM)

a. All federal rules and regulations apply to all public lands not just park lands
b. CRM is the biggest field in archeology today
c. CRM is a tremendous challenge to other agencies which have a multiple-use mission.

J. Interpretive program development.

1. Content: Use NPS Interpretive Development Program Curriculum Module 101, “Fulfilling the NPS Mission: The Process of Interpretation,” or other materials as references for explaining how a good interpretive program is developed: the interpreter as integral to the development of the program; the relationship between the resource and the audience and how interpretation facilitates this relationship; five basic elements of the interpretive process and the "interpretive equation."

a. Factual content
b. Inclusion of multiple points of view
c. Minimal use of technical jargon
d. On-site activity


For additional information contact:
Barbara J. Little
Archeology and Ethnography Program, NPS
1849 C St., NW, NC 210
Washington, DC
20240 202-343-1058 (voice)
202-523-1547 (fax)

Last module update: September, 2002
Editors: Hembrey, Heather A. and Barbara J. Little

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