The Intersection of Sacredness and Archaeology

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

As more and more of our physical landscape is being altered through rapid growth and development, the cultural landscape is also being changed and challenged. These changes often reflect the interests of some members of society, while the interests of others, including those of Native communities and many archaeologists, environmentalists and others who understand the importance of knowing the past, are disregarded. The latter group is dedicated toward preserving special places, and continuing to provide for Native people the ability to celebrate their traditions and focusing on defining the sacred landscape. What is sacred? Who defines sacred, and with what parameters? And, how is sacredness determined? Is it a legal term that is defined by the courts? And, are there degrees of sacredness? Can sacred and profane co-exist? What role do Native oral traditions play in defining a sacred landscape? Is a sacred landscape static, or can it be fluid and change? The term sacred can be applied to rock art sites, formations on the physical landscape, rituals, artifacts, evidence of past activities, and even, intangible oral traditions. This symposium will explore the many facets of sacredness that challenges the participants to view sacredness with an emic perspective.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-15 of 15)

  • Documents (15)

  • Archaeological Preservation (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Cory Wilkins.

    The Archaeological Conservancy (TAC) is the only national non-profit organization dedicated to preserving archaeological sites across the United States. In the late 1970s the founders of TAC recognized the threat and lack of protections to archaeological sites on private lands. In response, TAC was organized and incorporated. Often, TAC is contacted by archaeology firms, state agencies, and landowners with requests to explore the possibility of preserving a specific site. Many landowners find...

  • The Clash of Stories at Sacred Sites: Reframing the Task of Protecting Indigenous Sites (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Howard Vogel.

    Efforts to recover and protect indigenous sacred sites in the United States by framing conflicts over them in adversarial terms that employ the vocabulary of conventional legal doctrine on religious liberty and property rights have failed to succeed despite the creative efforts of many advocates. One cannot understand these failed efforts and move toward the development of a more hopeful approach to these conflicts without taking seriously the contrast between Indigenous views of the land and...

  • Defining Sacred (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Patricia Emerson.

    In American archaeology, as practiced in the context of cultural resource management, recognition and protection of sacred places requires application of bureaucratic standards that may not co-exist peacefully with the cultural norms of those most concerned about such protection. Definitions of the sacred exist in an awkward balance between the regulatory need for a precise, legally defensible definition and the reality that sacredness is a culturally-based concept that resists easy...

  • Encountering the sacred in the everyday; from prehistory to the present (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gabriel Cooney.

    A notable feature of the Irish prehistory is the recurrence of activity over long periods of time in specific areas. These persistent places or landscapes are also a feature of the wider world of prehistoric Atlantic Europe. This pattern of human activity has been long debated. Depending on the point of view of the researcher it can be explained for example as indicating foci of long-term settlement, as the repeated but unrelated use of areas improved by human modification in the context of...

  • The Hindquarters of God, Seeing the Sacred in a Landscape: (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Thomas Sanders.

    The Hindquarters of God, Seeing the Sacred in a Landscape: As the needs of our expanding society increasingly refashion our natural environment, we struggle to maintain healthy habitats and our sacred places. Archaeologists, land developers, lawmakers, theologians, and indigenous practioners of traditional spirituality all struggle with conflicting views of what do we mean when we declare that something is sacred and how do we recognize and preserve sacred places. The burning questions at...

  • Indigenous Cultural Resource Ceremonies (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only James Jones.

    Indigenous Cultural Resource Ceremonies looks at the relationship that Indigenous people have with archaeological sites and with sacred places. Spiritual connections that Indigenous people have with the land, waters and even with the stars and with the cycles of the moon. How is this relationship defined within modern archaeology and cultural resource management today? The relationship and the connections to places that we originate from. The villages, communities, towns, and the cities. ...

  • The intersection of the sacred and the everyday in medieval Ireland (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Soderberg.

    A common vision of the medieval Irish monk involves the aesthetic alone at the edge of the world occasionally appearing to bring flashes of the sacred to the rest of us. Here, the sacred is carefully delimited from the profane. Archaeology has done much in recent decades to elaborate this portrait of the monk into a fuller vision of life at monasteries with all of its mundane entanglements. But, archaeology has largely deferred the task of considering the impact of all that information on how we...

  • Inyan: Towards Understanding Sioux Quartzite and a Sacred Landscape (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Brian Hoffman. Chelsea Starke. Forest Seaberg-Wood. Kevin Reider. Liesl Weber Darnell.

    Both archaeological and ethnographic evidence supports the idea that the locations of petroglyphs and pictographs are considered sacred. In the Northern Plains of North America, the Jeffers Petroglyphs and similar petroglyph sites along the Red Rock Ridge are part of a landscape which includes habitations, petroforms, lithic reduction sites, and quarries. We report on the results of archaeological fieldwork at four sites along the Red Rock Ridge near the Jeffers Petroglyphs: a habitation site...

  • Issues involved in the recording and protection of a previously unknown rock art site in Northern California (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Teresa Saltzman.

    This paper will discuss the interaction between an archaeologist, a Native American who is a most likely descendent from the archaeological site, and a municipal government agency in the rediscovery, documentation and eventual repatriation of indigenous knowledge of a previously unrecorded rock art site. The rock is located in Northern California, on the lake bottom of a municipal water district water property. How should the rock be recorded? Does anyone really "own" that information? Who...

  • The Landscape of Klamath Basin Rock Art (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Robert David.

    For the past three decades, efforts to interpret Klamath Basin rock art symbols using ethnographic literature and concepts of sacred landscapes have advanced our understanding of the art. This approach, however, is limited by the assumption that the rock art symbols meant the same thing in every social and land use context. From my research of the past decade I have inferred that rock art designs are not distributed randomly across the landscape. Instead, rock art displays appear to vary...

  • Marking the Sacred: Reading between the abraded lines of Mission San Miguel the Arcángel. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jewel Gentry.

    The Californian Spanish colonial community of Mission San Miguel the Arcángel consisted primarily of Salinan, Tulare native populations and included neophyte Indians from previously established Missions of San Luis Obispo and San Antonio. Within the Mission Church examples of 19th century "graffiti" can be found etched throughout the sanctified interior. Researchers have suggested that specific sections of these stylized markings are analogous to California Indian rock art with parallels being...

  • The Sacred and the sacred (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Donna Gillette.

    The word sacred (or Sacred) can encompass many meanings. Some are tangible – others not. The sacred can exist in the mind or be defined on a map. Are there two sacreds – one with a small "s" and the other with a capital "S"? What constitutes the Sacred and who defines it, and with what parameters? How is sacredness determined, and who decides? Is it a legal term that is defined by the courts? Are there degrees of sacredness? Can sacred and profane co-exist? What role do Native oral...

  • Sacrifice, Litter, and Loss: The Archaeology of the Recent Past atop a Sacred Island in the Sky (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Breck Parkman.

    Located in the eastern San Francisco Bay area, Mount Diablo (3,848’) rises from an otherwise almost featureless terrain, making it highly visible from much of central California. Because of its visibility, Diablo is a backdrop to ethnographic and contemporary mythologies. The view from the peak is considered one of the most spectacular and unhindered in the world. Easily accessible by vehicle, the summit is visited daily by hundreds of tourists, many whom throw coins and other objects from the...

  • Situating and Explaining the Sacred Pipestone Quarries of Southwestern Minnesota within a Greater Cultural Landscape (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mark Calamia.

    Evidence of American Indian occupation and use of the pipestone quarries (now Pipestone National Monument) has been dated to least 3,000 years ago. For centuries Indians have considered the quarries a sacred site. Today the quarries are also considered ethnographic resources as members of numerous federally recognized American Indian tribes continue to express their right to quarry pipestone (catlinite) and carve this stone owing to its spiritual value. Although numerous studies have been...

  • Standing on Sacred Ground (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christopher (Toby) McLeod.

    In 40 years of filmmaking, I have explored indigenous peoples' relationship to sacred places threatened by extractive industries spawned by a culture that values profiting, owning and collecting material artifacts of great worth. Archaeology – like filmmaking – has evolved in the last 40 years to include the concerns and perspectives of cultures all over the world, including indigenous people. Previous methods labeled Euro-centric, racist or exclusionary have been intensively questioned. If the...