Simple things you can do to promote the public benefit of archaeology
PDF of: 25 Simple Things you can do to promote the public benefit of archaeology (465 kb)
Archaeologists have a special responsibility to promote the public benefits
that can be derived from the practice of archaeology and the appropriate
investigation of archaeological resources. A variety of other groups,
some with very different and quite destructive perspectives on archaeological
resources, busily pursue different agendas for use of the archaeological
If archaeologists do not act to counter these, who will? This brochure
provides a wealth of suggestions about what you can do to be an advocate
What are some public benefits of archaeology?
Teachers and students find that archaeology can help teach
principles of math, science, geography, and logic
as well as history and human diversity.
Community leaders find that archaeology can build community
links in the present as well as the past.
Cultural groups find that archaeology can contribute to
the preservation of their history and traditions.
Ecologists find that archaeology reveals information on
environmental stability and change.
Historians find that archaeology provides both new information
to complement the written record and
important new questions about our past.
Avocational Archaeologists find the opportunity to make
a direct contribution to research about the past.
Senior Citizens find that their broad range of skills and
expertise contribute to archaeological research.
Writers, newspaper reporters, and television producers find
that archaeology is educational entertainment that sells.
Tourism councils, Museums and Parks find that authentic
archaeology brings people in and keeps them coming back.
Planners and Citizens find that archaeology can contribute
to a sustainable community where cultural heritage is valued and nurtured.
Spread the Word -- Enthusiastically
Include public outreach in all of your projects. Provide
tours. Develop or contribute to a WWW page
- Hone your writing skills and use them. Write letters to
the editors of your local newspapers.
Learn to write for specific audiences. Above all, avoid jargon!
- Talk about the values of archaeology, historic places
and preservation and highlight local archaeological activities.
Practice the effective "sound bite."
- Cooperate with the media and build contacts with history
and science writers and broadcasters.
Get the most out of the National Register of Historic Places
- Nominate sites and multiple properties to the National
Register of Historic Places.
- Use state and local registers as well to honor and document
Request an Author's Packet from the National Register
of Historic Places and write a Teaching with Historic Places lesson
Get on the tourism train
- Contact state travel offices and local convention and
visitor bureaus with accurate, interesting information on archaeological
Improve undergraduate and graduate education
Include discussion of public archaeology in all of your
courses: business, legal and ethical issues, and the responsibility
to communicate with the public about archaeology. Ensure that students
learn that archaeological sites are found in their communities,
not only in exotic locales.
- Educate the administration of your school about the importance
of public outreach.
Request courses in public archaeology and methods of
Join up: There is strength in numbers
- Join the professional council and the avocational society
in your state. Keep your dues current, attend meetings, and participate
by giving papers or writing for journals. Provide your insight as
a Professional, a Citizen, and a Constituent.
Provide your insight as a professional, a citizen, and a constituent
- Know your local, state, and federal legislators and let
them know what you think. (The League of Women Voters is one source
- Learn about issues that impact archaeology, such as federal
land management, resource protection, and historic preservation. Check
out the Government Affairs section of SAA's Web page.
- Communicate the business and financial contributions of
archaeology to the Chamber of Commerce in your community.
Get involved with local communities
- Contact all local community interest groups about your
work. Know local cultures, history and customs.
- Be sensitive to the traditional knowledge and values of
Native Americans and other ethnic and racial minorities.
- Speak to local organizations, civic associations, and
- Contact and cooperate with other professionals to promote
a multidisciplinary approach to Cultural Resource Management.
- Talk to developers, civil engineers, and planners and
write articles for their professional journals.
- Initiate and maintain contact with historical societies
and local historic preservation commissions.
- Work with agricultural, environmental, and land trust
organizations to promote consideration of cultural resources in open
space, or protection through easements or other preservation strategies.
Build a constituency of teachers and students
- Support and participate in the public education activities
of your professional societies.
- Volunteer to be a resource person for teachers to help
get archaeology in the curriculum.
- Encourage your school system (and particularly your own
children's teachers) to subscribe to SAA's Archaeology and Public
Education and to use the National Park Service's
Teaching with Historic Places series of lesson plans.
For information on the National Register of Historic Places and
Teaching with Historic Places contact:
National Register, History and Education
National Park Service
1849 C St. NW, Mail Stop 2280
Washington, DC 20240
For information about general public education and outreach activities
in archaeology programs and projects contact:
Department Consulting Archeologist Archeology and Ethnography
National Park Service
1849 C St. NW, Mail Stop 2275
Washington, DC 20240
For information on the Public Education Network and Archaeology
and Public Education contact:
Society for American
900 Second St, NE, Suite 12
Washington, DC 20002
For information on the Public Education Committee contact:
for Historical Archaeology
P.O. Box 30446
Tucson, AZ 85751
Other organizations of interest:
National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers
Suite 342, Hall of the States
444 North Capitol Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001-1512
For information on Public Archaeology
Center for Archaeology in the Public Interest
Department of Anthropology
425 University Blvd., IUPUI
Indianapolis, IN 46202-5140
For information on Anthro Notes Bulletin for Teachers contact:
National Museum of Natural History
Washington, DC 20560
Some other useful internet sites:
Association of State Archaeologists
Archaeological Institute of America
Produced by United States Department of the Interior
- National Park Service
- National Register of Historic Places
- Society for Historical Archaeology
- Society for American Archaeology
Produced under a cooperative agreement with the National Conference
of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO)