Why are Archaeological Collections Relevant in the 21st Century? The Caribbean Experience

Author(s): Paola Schiappacasse

Year: 2016


The late 19th century and beginning of the 20th century provides us with numerous examples of the acquisition of collections carried out by museums. When archaeologists talk about those collections, housed at museums worldwide, the discussions are often directed towards how the lack of context limits or nullifies their research potential. I argue that we need to go back and carefully re-examine the research prospects of these collections. This presentation considers several avenues for research that can be developed in order to use the collections from a collections management perspective, and also to develop research projects using the artifacts as an important part.

From a collections management perspective we can trace the origin of the collection, looking at who was involved in the acquisition, registration and cataloging processes of these artifacts. Second, we need to fully understand the changes that have resulted from deaccessioning, exchanges and loans. Thirdly, I argue that the scientific potential has not been lost but instead we need to pose questions that re-examine what we really know about these artifacts. Drawing from current research in the Caribbean I will demonstrate that it is possible to develop insightful research projects that concentrate on museum collections.

Cite this Record

Why are Archaeological Collections Relevant in the 21st Century? The Caribbean Experience. Paola Schiappacasse. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404039)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -90.747; min lat: 3.25 ; max long: -48.999; max lat: 27.683 ;