Public Perceptions of Archaeology

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

Since the beginning of public archaeology, we, as archaeologists, have held both legal and ethical obligations to share information with the public in a way that promotes understanding and appreciation in a shared heritage. The development of various public heritage education and stewardship initiatives, such as Project Archaeology, USFS's Passport in Time, and Archaeology in the Community, has begun to provide archaeologists with thoughts on how to meet both legal and ethical obligations. Yet, we, as archaeologists, are increasingly asked to justify to the public the value in and importance of stewardship of the archaeological record. Although, many public perceptions of archaeology still dictate who archaeologists engage with, the use of the term and how we view the “public” varies. Understanding the needs and interests of the many publics interested in archaeology will help us understand the obstacles we face in sharing information. In this symposium we will explore innovative approaches and best practices for sharing information through various engaging public initiatives.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-14 of 14)

  • Documents (14)

  • The Countless Perceptions of Archaeology in Archaeological Societies: A Case Study Involving the Oklahoma Anthropological Society (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Holly Andrew.

    The public has a genuine interest in archaeology of which avocational and amateur archaeological groups are among the most vocal. The greatest area of interest among avocationalists is in participating in archaeological research, which has led eight states to develop and implement archaeology certification programs. These program are designed to train avocationals on how to contribute to the professional field and laboratory projects. However, while these state certification programs seek to...

  • Engaging the Public Through Women's Emergence in Archaeology (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mechell Frazier. Leslie E. Drane. Ricardo Higelin Ponce de Leon.

    As we live in a world in which the social sciences continually undergo negative publicity in the public sphere, spreading our knowledge is more important than ever. Since archaeology depends on the support of non-academic communities, we must combat negative portrayals of social science through outreach events and public portrayals of our work. We explore the impact of doing archaeology through women’s life experiences. Through this lens, we discuss the passive and active manners in which...

  • Experiencing the Past through "Digifacts" (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Paola Di Giuseppantonio Di Franco.

    This paper presents DIGIFACT, a project aiming at improving our understanding of how people perceive artifacts through different media. This project will clarify the role of 3D technologies in the perception of archaeological artifacts, which are critical to our world heritage, and help us understanding how people experience artifacts in a museum and how 3D replicas can improve visitor experience of authenticity and understanding. For this research, I will collect data on how visitors experience...

  • Keeping Up with the Times: Evolving Programs and Publics (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Meredith Langlitz. Ben Thomas.

    As an organization for both professional archaeologists and laypersons the Archaeological Institute of America’s role in archaeological outreach and education has evolved and expanded over the course of its 136 year history. The Institute has launched a number of initiatives in response to perceived needs and strategic plans to promote the understanding of archaeology. Since 2004, the AIA has expanded its efforts locally and globally through Local Societies, International Archaeology Day, and...

  • Learn by Doing: Sharpening Understanding of Archeologists and Sites Among Diverse Publics with Hands On Activities in Arkansas (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ann Early.

    Most people have unformed ideas about what archeologists really do; collector of stuff, oddball academic, dinosaur hunter, rock expert, 'save the planet' enthusiast, expert about dead people and dead societies. Poor understanding breeds scatter shot ideas about the 'values' of archeological sites for science, history, or heritage. In Arkansas, hands-on collaboration showing how archeologists learn things, and how ancient people made a living, tried out with replicas of archeological specimens,...

  • Learning heritage while teaching archaeology at Tahcabo, Yucatán: archaeologists’ perspectives on the opportunities and risks of local community engagement (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ivan Batun-Alpuche. Sarah Rowe. Patricia McAnany. Maia Dedrick.

    While a great deal of archaeological research in the Maya area has been conducted with the interests of the academic community and tourism industry in mind, there are fewer examples of archaeology conducted with the needs of local "publics" foregrounded. We propose greater dialogue between archaeologists and the people who live near (and within) places where archaeologists conduct research, and consider the dissemination of archaeological information to communities involved in archaeological...

  • Moctezuma, King David, and a Gentile Meet on a Mountain: Religious Factionalism and Indigenous Perceptions of Archaeological Sites, Archaeology, and Archaeologists (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Danny Zborover.

    The state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico has long been famous for its archaeological tourism, aimed mostly towards urban-based national and international publics. But while this is also the state with the largest indigenous population in Mexico, the contemporary descendents of those archaeological and historical cultures present an important yet mostly unrecognized public whose perceptions of their own past remain poorly studied. Concomitantly, the complex relationships between cultural heritage...

  • The Pros and Cons of "Public Archaeology Days" (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Barbara Hines.

    The Florida Public Archaeology Network is tasked with educating Florida's public about the state's rich archaeological heritage. One method that has been used to do so is what we call "Public Archaeology Days". These days mainly consist of identifying artifacts that the public has legally collected on private land, usually their own backyards or farms. There has been much debate surrounding this method of public outreach and much discussion on how to properly host these events. Often we partner...

  • Public Perceptions of Archaeology and its Impact on Archaeological Resource Preservation: A Case Study from Western Canada (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David Pokotylo.

    Although archaeologists acknowledge a legal and ethical responsibility to engage the public, the level of public appreciation and knowledge of archaeology and attitudes toward heritage preservation still remain poorly understood. A handful of past social surveys in North America and Europe give an initial perspective of public opinion on archaeological heritage preservation and its role in contemporary society. Given recent digital advances in public access to information and forums for...

  • The Public Swinging Detectors: Interaction With Professional Archaeologists (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christopher Espenshade.

    Avocational detectorists are one segment of the public that offers great opportunities and challenges for public outreach. It has become increasingly clear that not all laypersons with a metal detector are the same, and that past and ongoing vilification of "relic hunters" is not always appropriate. The class, Archaeological Partnership Program, is introduced. This class teaches avocational detectorists how they can contribute to professional archaeological research, and hopes to help bridge...

  • Shifting Perceptions of Local Heritage: Community Archaeology in Aguacate village, Toledo district, southern Belize (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Claire Novotny.

    The recent expansion of community-based approaches to archaeological research signifies a renegotiation of how, and for whom, historical knowledge is produced. This paper reviews the implementation of a community-based archaeological heritage program in the Toledo district of southern Belize. Research conducted by the Aguacate Community Archaeology Project seeks to understand the degree of social, political, and economic integration of ancient Maya households with regional political centers...

  • State, Local and Individual Perceptions of Archaeology as an Economic Asset (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Paul Burtenshaw.

    The perception of archaeological resources as an economic asset is a large factor in the interaction of archaeologists with the public. This perception can pre-exist in the location and stakeholders that archaeologists work with, or alternatively archaeologists may seek to create this perception, seeking new value for cultural heritage in people who might otherwise be disengaged. There are certainly challenges to such perceptions, including the matching of hoped-for economic benefits with the...

  • There's No App for This: The Value of Archaeology and Experiential Education in a Digital Universe (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Shawn Collins. Sarah Payne. Erica Olsen.

    The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, a not-for-profit organization located in southwestern Colorado, has used archaeological research to teach multiple audiences about the human experience for more than 30 years. Changing educational standards and transportation needs have affected Crow Canyon’s student program attendance, and an aging demographic increasingly limits our adult program attendance, with ramifications felt in our membership and donor support. We face the challenge of...

  • A Way Forward with Public and Professional Archaeology: The Exploring Joara Foundation in North Carolina. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David Moore. Christopher Rodning. Robin Beck, Jr..

    The Exploring Joara Foundation, Inc. is a not-for profit, 501(c)3, organization whose mission is to support public archaeology in the western Piedmont region of North Carolina. Formed in 2008, the foundation has grown around the long-term research project at the Berry site, near Morganton, NC; now known to be the location of the Native town of Joara and the Spanish Fort San Juan built by Juan Pardo in 1567. Archaeological investigations at the Berry site since 2001 have involved the public in...