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Celebrate Archeology

Happy Birthday, National Park Service! Come celebrate with us fee-free! August 25 is Founders Day—an important event for American archeology.

Beginning in the late 19th century, preservationists worked to save archeological sites. Their efforts led to the Antiquities Act of 1906, which led to the creation of many national monuments and has had a major impact on national parks into the 21st century. For background on how archeology came to be in the National Park Service, see the story of the Antiquities Act and a timeline of the history of archeology in the United States. Some say that the Organic Act of 1916 and the development of the National Park System were some of America's best ideas. See what it meant for archeology in Preserving America's Past.

Archeology supports the full and accurate interpretation of our nation's past. For some sites, like George Washington's Fort Necessity, archeology pointed historians to the locations of historical structures when documents could not. At other places, like at Women's Rights National Historical Park or the African Burial Ground National Monument, archeology provides insights on the past that cannot be known in any other way.

Archeology at Sand Creek Massacre NHS mediates between two sides of a historical story. Parks such Hovenweep National Monument were established specifically because the archeological information they contain is essential to understanding the American past.

Wondering what archeologists are doing right now in the national parks? Read the Archeology E-gram, browse Projects in Parks, or look for the uncovered past in your state at Research in the Parks. You'll find that archeologists are actively working to conduct research about the past and are sharing what they find with the public in many different ways.

Archeologists throughout the NPS would be glad to see you, or hear from you. Want to visit archeological places? Check out the Visit Archeology page, or find a park. You might also look for opportunities to volunteer, get involved in stewardship programs, or participate in archeology. See our For the Public page to learn how you can help.

  • Cliff dwelling at Navaho NM. [NPS photo]
  • Detail of Frank Bender's 'Unearthed' at the African Burial Ground National Monument. [NPS photo]
  • Archeologists dig up the past at Valley Forge NHP. [NPS photo]
  • Petroglyphs at Mesa Verde. [NPS photo]