Where Are We Going? The Impact of Project Archaeology on the Profession, Past and Future

Author(s): Stephen Epstein; Eleanor King

Year: 2015


Over its 25 years, Project Archaeology has helped revolutionize not only how we teach archaeology in pre-collegiate and other settings, but also how professional archaeologists look at public engagement. The program’s original objective was to prevent looting by inculcating a sense of stewardship in children. Its initial success made it the profession’s premier outreach instrument. As various states adapted Project Archaeology to different regional audiences, it became clear that the deep cultural knowledge that brings archaeology to life promotes a sense of protectiveness toward the archaeological record. Even more importantly, it can give children a thrilling connection to their own identities. Project Archaeology thus helps develop a public that values cultural heritage. As economic stresses continue to threaten disciplines with no obvious connection to jobs, archaeology will need broad public support to remain healthy. That public includes members of groups currently underrepresented in the profession, such as African Americans and Native Americans. The multicultural Project Archaeology lessons, tailored to national and educational standards, can attract a wider range of students to study their cultural heritage and pursue archaeological careers. We need their voices if we are to enrich archaeological understanding and foster a public that cares about what we do.

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Where Are We Going? The Impact of Project Archaeology on the Profession, Past and Future. Eleanor King, Stephen Epstein. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396378)