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  Managing Archeological Collections Introduction Distance Learning


Welcome to "Managing Archeological Collections"! This distance learning effort covers all aspects of caring for archeological collections -- the activities dealing with all kinds of archeological collections (i.e., objects, records, reports, and digital data) in all kinds of places (i.e., the field, the archeologist's office, the lab, and the repository.) Another word for this range of activities is "curating" or "curation", which you will find a lot more about in the following sections.

(photo) Fieldwork (circa 1970s) during which non-archival quality boxes are used.
Fieldwork (circa 1970s) during which non-archival quality boxes are used.Photo courtesy of Alexandria Archaeology, City of Alexandria, Virginia.

The information provided here is designed to assist those who are interested in or need to learn more about preserving and managing archeological collections over the long term. Since the U.S. National Park Service provided funds to support its development, an important audience includes the archeologists, curators, cultural resources managers, planners, and other NPS staff who create, care for, and make decisions about archeological collections. Although this is not official guidance for the NPS or anyone else, it does provide extensive technical assistance that is not available in any other single place.

Much more broadly, this online course is designed for the global archeological community -- professional archeologists (e.g., university professors, CRM principal investigators and their staff, federal, tribal, and state agency staff), graduate students, upper level college students, and others concerned about archeological collections -- who are rarely taught this material in formal educational settings. Because "Managing Archeological Collections" is created for primary access and use via the Internet, "global" is a key word here. Although it is impossible to discuss laws and policies related to archeological practice and collections management for every country around the world, the non-legal content is pertinent to all archeologists.

The information provided here should also be useful for museum professionals who want to know more about the relationships between archeological field and lab practices and the resulting collections. Policy makers, budget officials, and managers who make important decisions about the care of archeological collections at federal, state, and other levels will also find this web site useful.

In many ways, the materials provided allow for self-motivated learning. Our goal is to increase your base of knowledge about archeological collections and their management each time you visit. We planned it so you may tailor your visit to what you want to learn today. In other words, you may come back as frequently as you want and learn at your own pace. We also hope that the materials may be used and adapted for formal instruction at collegiate or professional venues and courses. Finally, it is also possible to earn a formal certificate from DOI Learn, the online learning center of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

In the end, we hope you find a number of valuable resources for further exploration, particularly through the numerous links we provide to other significant sources of related information. We periodically update those links as we learn about relevant new materials on archeological collections, their long-term care and access, and museum management issues.

This technical assistance complements a book, Curating Archaeological Collections: From the Field to the Repository, published by AltaMira Press in 2003. The book, authored by Lynne Sullivan and S. Terry Childs, provides a critical overview of the issues related to the long-term care of archeological collections and responsible practices that need to be implemented now and in the future by archeologists.

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