Exploring Public Perceptions and Attitudes about Archaeology

Author(s): Maria Ramos; David Duganne

Year: 2000


Harris Interactive was commissioned by a coalition of archaeological organizations in June of 1999 to conduct a study among the American public to understand their perceptions, knowledge, and attitudes about archaeology. The overall purpose of this study is to gain insight on the American public's views and understanding of archaeology.

The overall purpose of this study is to gain insight on the American public's views and understanding of archaeology. The information that is provided in this report is important because archaeology is a public endeavor. Archaeology is uniquely dependent on the public for the identification and protection of its resource base. And in some way, all archaeological research is supported by the public's money. Federal, state, and local laws protect sites on public land and on land being developed with public monies.

However, while lessons about archaeology are included in classroom teachings, archaeology has not been an integral part of the school curriculum in the American education system. As archaeologists strive to share information with the public about archaeology and seek public support in protecting and identifying archaeological resources, it is important to understand what Americans know, perceive, and feel about these pressing and important issues.

The coalition of archaeological organizations is composed of the following organizations: the Archaeological Conservancy, the Archaeological Institute of America, the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Society for American Archaeology, and the Society for Historical Archaeology.

The main objective of this research is to learn how well Americans understand archaeology- its practice, its results, and its value. Core issues include understanding:

• What Americans think archaeology is

• What they think archaeologists do

• How Americans learn about archaeology

• How they think archaeological resources should be treated

• Their opinions about the importance and value of archaeology to different aspects of society and to their own personal lives.

Additional issues of interest include:

• Measuring the American public’s interest and participation in archaeology and archaeological activities

• Understanding public attitudes toward archaeology, laws, and conservation issues.

These dimensions were categorized into the following five areas.

1. Awareness, Perceptions, and Knowledge

2. Interest and Participation

3. Importance and Value

4. Attitudes

5. Demographic Information

Cite this Record

Exploring Public Perceptions and Attitudes about Archaeology. Maria Ramos, David Duganne. Washington, DC: Society for American Archaeology. 2000 ( tDAR id: 366182) ; doi:10.6067/XCV82N509C

Individual & Institutional Roles

Prepared By(s): Harris Interactive

Submitted To(s): Society for American Archaeology

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