[NPS Arrowhead] U.S. Dept. of Interior National Park Service Archeology Program
Quick Menu Features
* Sitemap * Home
  Public Archeology in the United States—A Timeline

Timeline 1990-2004

Protection, preservation, and interpretation continue to be the goals of public archeology, while new strategies and techniques to preserve the archeological record are initiated. Public outreach and participation, partnerships, and preservation programs are top priorities. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act influences participation of Native Americans in archeological projects, while amendments to the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) require federal agencies to conduct public outreach and education about archeology. Also under ARPA, programs to fight looting and preserve the archaeological record expand, more law enforcement personnel are trained in archeological protection, and the law is used more often to prosecute more looters. The use and sharing of archeological research results is improved through interagency cooperation in project development and information exchange at the national, state, and local levels. In addition, the systematic preservation of artifacts and related records from archeological sites results in better conservation and use of collections and records to enhance the understanding of the past.

Timeline 1990-2004

  • 1990
    • Archeological collections stored in inappropriately stacked cardboard boxes that are crushing each

      Archeological collections sometimes are stored in inappropriate facilities and may suffer further from compression damage, water damage, and pest infestation.

      US Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District

      The regulations, Curation of Federally-Owned and Administered Archeological Collections (36 CFR 79) are published in final form. They establish definitions, standards, procedures, and guidelines that federal agencies must observe to manage and preserve archeological collections and associated records from federal projects.
    • Congress enacts the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). It provide definitions procedures for the disposition or repatriation of culturally affiliated Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Native Alaskan human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony that were inadvertently discovered or intentionally excavated from tribal or federal lands after 1990, or are held by federal agencies or museums that receive federal funds.
    • The National Park Service (NPS) releases the Abandoned Shipwreck Act (ASA) Guidelines to provide advice to both state and federal agencies on effective management of abandoned shipwrecks under their care.
  • 1991
    • An instructor from the Teaching with Historic Places program helping a student

      Teaching with Historic Places in a Virginia classroom.

      NPS Photo

      Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan issues the National Strategy for Federal Archeology. The strategy is designed as an integrative mechanism to maintain standards and keep efforts focused on preserving sites in situ, conserving collections and records, using and sharing research results, and promoting public education and outreach.
    • The NPS National Register of Historic Places initiates the Teaching with Historic Places program to promote places as effective tools for enlivening traditional classroom instruction.
    • The African Burial Ground, a 17th century cemetery, is discovered 20 feet beneath ground surface in the densely developed southern tip of Manhattan, New York City. During the next several years of excavation, over 400 burials of enslaved Africans and African Americans are recovered and studied to learn about when the cemetery was used and the historical and cultural backgrounds of the people buried there.
    • An instructor from the Teaching with Historic Places program helping a student

      Passport in Time logo.

      The US Forest Service establishes Passport in Time (PIT) as a national program. PIT volunteers work with professional archeologists and historians on projects such as excavation, survey, historic structure restoration, and the analysis and curation of artifacts.
  • 1992
    • The National Historical Preservation Act is amended to include the stipulation that the Secretary of the Interior must consult with Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. It also provides for the establishment of tribal preservation programs and creates a presidential appointment to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation for a Native American or Native Hawaiian.
    • The National Park Service launches the National Archeological Database, Reports module. It is an expanded bibliographic inventory of reports on archeological investigation and planning, mostly of limited circulation ("gray literature"). NADB-Reports can be searched by state, county, cultural affiliation, keyword, year of publication, title, and author. In 2004, it holds over 350,000 records.
  • 1993
    • ArchNet is the first website to provide access to extensive archeological resources on the Internet. It serves as the Virtual Library for Archaeology.
    • The interior view of the Salinas Pueblo Missions' roofless ruins

      Salinas Pueblo Missions in New Mexico is an example of one of the sites Vanishing Treasures is working to preserve.

      NPS Photo

      Vanishing Treasures, a grassroots effort by NPS park superintendents to preserve prehistoric and historic ruins in the arid west, is launched. The key goals are to address the stabilization of structures in imminent danger of loss, train a new generation of craftsmen before the older ones retire, and evaluate, rank, and accomplish preservation strategies on Vanishing Treasures resources.
  • 1994
    • In response to a growing concern that its archaeological collections were not being properly curated or managed, the US Army Corps of Engineers creates the Mandatory Center of Expertise for the Curation and Management of Archaeological Collections (MCX-CMAC). MCX-CMAC is charged with assisting the Corps and other federal, state, and local agencies in activities such as NAGPRA-compliance activities, archives, archaeological collections management, and the design of museum collection facilities.
    • Archeologists excavating a field that was the crash site of an aircraft during the Vietnam War

      Excavations of an aircraft crash site in Vietnam.

      NPS Photo

      Interagency cooperation begins as archeologists from the NPS Midwest Archeological Center work with the US Department of Defense to investigate aircraft crash sites from the Vietnam War in an attempt to resolve the fate of aircrews who were lost with these planes in Vietnam and Laos. Using eyewitness accounts from local residents, US military personnel and Vietnamese laborers identify and excavate crash sites scattered across a series of rice paddies.
  • 1995
    • The American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA) is incorporated to promote the professional, ethical, and business practices of the cultural resources industry for the benefit of the resources, the public, and the members of the association.
  • 1996
    • The human skeletal remains that have come to be referred to as "Kennewick Man", or the "Ancient One", are found in Kennewick, Washington. Almost immediately controversy develops regarding who is responsible for determining the fate of the remains. Indian tribes, local officials, and some members of the scientific community make claims. Subsequently, the federal government conducts extensive research on Kennewick Man as part of the effort to resolve the legal case that develops from the initial controversy.
  • 1997
    • Wyoming's archeolgoy month poster

      Wyoming archaeology month poster.

      NPS Photo

      Since the organization of the first state archeology week in Arizona in 1983, the celebration of Archeology Week has grown considerably. Thirty-nine states now celebrate an archeology week or month. Archeology celebrations enhance the public's understanding of archeology and the need for the preservation of the archeological record.
    • In a landmark ARPA decision on the Shumway case, the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rules that the sentencing judge may use “archeological value” to calculate loss when sentencing looters. The value is based on what it would cost to retrieve scientific information from the site had it not been violated, plus the costs of site stabilization and artifact curation. The ruling stems from the appeal of a man who received the largest sentence ever handed down in an ARPA case.
  • 1998
    • Archeologists succeed in publishing an archeological excavation report, complete with extensive data and graphics, on a CD. This is Excavating Occaneechi Town: Archaeology Of An Eighteenth-Century Indian Village In North Carolina edited by R. P. Stephen Davis, Jr., Patrick Livingood, H. Trawick Ward, and Vincas Steponaitis. The authors' more recent website also includes an Electronic Dig.
    • The Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA) is formed to establish universal standards in archeology. RPA is a listing of archeologists who have agreed to abide by an explicit code of conduct and standards of research performance based on the code of ethics, standards of performance, and grievance procedures of the former Society of Professional Archeologists.
  • 1999
    • Archeological collections sometimes are stored in inappropriate facilities and may suffer further from compression damage, water damage, and pest infestation.

      US Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District

      National NAGPRA becomes a program of the NPS. The program maintains several online databases designed to provide access to information on a variety of NAGPRA-related topics: the Native American Consultation Database (NACD), the Notices of Inventories Completion Database and the Notices of Intent to Repatriate Database.
    • The US Attorney for the District of Utah reaches a creative settlement in U.S. v. Dose, which involved ARPA violations committed by a teacher leading a middle school archeology club trip and the school district. The teacher is required to share the lessons he learned in speaking engagements and in articles for education journals and the Society for American Archaeology's "Archaeology & Public Education" newsletter. He must also pay for the repair of the archeological site involved, while the middle school district pays the ARPA civil penalty.
  • 2000
    • Children completing Project Archaeology activities

      Thunder Bay's shipwrecks create artificial reef habitat and attract marine life, creating popular spots for divers to explore natural and cultural resources.

      Glen Allen, Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary

      A coalition of archeological organizations commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct a study of the American public to understand their perceptions, knowledge, and attitudes about archeology. "Exploring Public Perceptions and Attitudes about Archaeology" is released and reveals that people think archeology is important to today's society.
    • Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve is designated as the 13th national marine sanctuary and the first in the Great Lakes. Approximately 160 shipwrecks that span more than a century of maritime history lie within the region.
    • The NPS launches its first self-motivated, distance learning course for archeologists worldwide, Managing Archeological Collections. It focuses on the issues and activities involved in preserving and managing archeological collections from the field to the museum and over the long term. It has ten sections, each with a bibliography, related links, and a quiz.
    • Children completing Project Archaeology activities

      Children completing Project Archaeology activities.

      Project Archaeology, a national heritage education program, is founded by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for educators and their students. Its goals are to teach young Americans to value and protect our cultural heritage, strengthen children's sense of personal responsibility for stewardship, and use the vast historic and archaeological resources under the custody of the BLM to support the education of America's children.
  • 2001
    • An interdisciplinary workgroup of NPS archeologists and interpreters develop a curriculum to train both sets of professionals in the skills and abilities needed to effectively interpret archeological resources to the public. This is the first shared competency in the NPS.
    • The UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage is adopted as a follow-up to the 1996 ICOMOS Charter on the Protection and Management of Underwater Cultural Heritage. Developed by government experts from over 107 nations, the convention is the product of many years of negotiations and contains professional rules on underwater archeology.
    • Archeologists excavating Mound A at Shiloh National Military Park

      Top view of Mound A excavations at Shiloh National Military Park.

      NPS Photo

      Although Shiloh National Military Park was established to commemorate a Civil War battle, it was also occupied by Mississippian peoples (from circa AD 1000 - 1350). The NPS Southeast Archeological Center's (SEAC) Shiloh Mound Archeological Testing Project begins working on the Shiloh Mound Complex. It includes a number of mounds around a plaza and an encircling palisade situated on a high bluff that is rapidly eroding into the Tennessee River.
    • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issues final Guidelines for Research, Exploration and Salvage of RMS TITANIC. The guidelines are developed in consultation with the United Kingdom, France, and Canada.
  • 2002
  • 2003
    • Preserve America logo

      Preserve America logo.

      The "Preserve America" Executive Order 13287 is issued. It advances the protection, enhancement, and contemporary use of historic properties owned by the federal Government, and promotes intergovernmental cooperation and partnerships for the preservation and use of historic properties.
  • 2004
    • Interpretation for Archeologists: A Guide to Increasing Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities is launched. America's archeological resources embody a rich heritage of human experiences and cultural identities. They tell us about people from the past and establish important connections to the present. Interpretation guides the public to realizing the personal relevance of archeological resources and the importance of their preservation and protection.
    • Your thoughts on the significant events in public archeology are always appreciated. Please send your suggestions to Terry Childs.

return to top | links | bibliography



Quick Menu