Future Archaeology and… Aliens? Wait… What?

I feel like this needs a disclaimer, I was just trying to amuse myself in writing this.  This is not to be taken seriously, but if you want to  continue the conversation then just leave a comment.

One of the most attractive aspects of archaeology, in my opinion, is the ever-expanding nature of the study.  We create more archaeology as we live, so we could never learn everything (even excluding all the data that has been lost).  This means that there will always be archaeology which I find amazing, but there’s also a sadder aspect to that.  We will never know everything.  Are we piecing together scraps of the past in a futile attempt to leave our mark?  I think that we’re making some difference, that what we’re doing is not a waste.  But if we will never know everything, I wonder why this will be the case.  I’ve pondered this quite a bit, and frankly, I haven’t come up with any positive answers.

This is where things are going to get a bit weird, and maybe I’m trying to look too far forward, but I think it deserves a mention.  We as a species will go extinct at some point.  Now, this could be from any of the infinite possibilities and scenarios.  I’m not going to get into hypotheticals because your brain will tell you a better story than I can and that’s not my purpose here.  Obviously if we go extinct then we can’t learn about the past anymore as we have all become the past and there is no current or future.  What I wonder is if we as humans will be uncovered at any point in time beyond extinction.  I am personally a firm believer that intelligent life exists beyond Earth.  This does not mean I believe that they have ever contacted us in any way, shape, or form.  I simply believe life exists beyond what we know.   Assuming some other life form would come across our remains, would we have left enough information for them to understand us?  Forget the odds of another species being able to translate our written thoughts and ideas.  Would another species even care about us being some lost civilization?  I don’t know and frankly I’ll never be able to answer that.   Technically aliens could do archaeology, after all it is a study of humans and I’ve never seen it defined as a study by humans.

I feel like aliens doing archaeology would be kind of funny.  Especially if they uncover a recording of the Ancient Aliens guy.  I don’t know how a conversation between other intelligent life would go, but the thought of aliens calling that guy a liar just makes me chuckle.

IUP Anthropology Department

Flotation Therapy (Archaeology Edition)

Something I’ve found myself thinking more and more often is that working in the wet lab, processing flotation samples, is relaxing.  Now, this could just be the tired mind of a grad student enjoying a few moments of peace and there’s some truth to that.  However, there’s more to it.  It’s been feeling like a productive therapy session.  There’s something fulfilling about taking liters worth of samples and revealing what the soil has hidden, particularly of the legacy collections that have been keeping their secrets for thirty or forty years.  Although, I don’t know what will happen with the materials retrieved once they have been bagged and labeled.  Sure, some materials will be examined sooner or later for research questions that might not have been asked yet.  However, I have a suspicion that those of the legacy collections, which sometimes are more plastic (from the degrading trash and/or sandwich bags originally used to store them) than anything else, may just be stored away indefinitely.  It seems like a shame, but I hope this material will be examined at some point.  It may seem sad, but it’s fun to wonder what this material could contribute to archaeology.  Perhaps this will inspire me to pursue researching micro-artifacts, including those of these abandoned collections   That’s enough of my rambling for now.

For anyone unfamiliar with flotation or what exactly I’m talking about, keep reading and I’ll try to make it short.  If I didn’t make this clear earlier, flotation is a process that separates tiny artifacts, plant materials, and the like from soil through water.  These artifacts separate into two groups called the light and heavy fractions.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the light fraction floats in the water while the heavy does not.  We at IUP are fortunate enough to have a flotation machine which cuts the amount of time and effort put into collecting these microartifacts.  You do not need a flotation machine to do flotation, a bucket of water and a sieve will suffice, but it makes the process far easier.  In the case of a flotation machine, you have a pump that keeps the water flowing and helps to agitate the sample and separate the soil and microartifacts.  You pour a sample into the main compartment, gently.  The water flows through an opening, carrying the light fraction, and then through a screen that collects the light fraction.  The heavy fraction remains in a removable screen in the main compartment and gets collected once the light fraction has finished collecting.  The machine gets cleaned out when changing sites, and just every so often, to avoid accidental contamination and to keep the machine functioning properly.  If I left you with more questions than answers, leave a comment and I’ll try to answer you ASAP.

Light fraction

 

IUP Anthropology Department

SAA Government Affairs Update January 2019

All credit of this post goes to the president of the Society for American Archaeology, Susan M. Chandler, RPA.  I would have preferred to post a link to this statement in light of the recent government shutdown, unfortunately I could not find such a link.  For clarification, this piece comes from the most recent (Jan 2019) edition of the Society for American Archaeology’s Government Affairs and International Government Affairs newsletter compiled by David Lindsey.  I post this today with the intent of providing one of many viewpoints of the recent government shutdown.  Within the foreseeable future, we hope to have a companion piece authored and posted by a source from within the CRM industry to present an additional narrative. 

 

At long last, the government shutdown is over – at least for now. Furloughed government workers are returning to a backlog of missed work and are assessing what damage may have been caused to cultural resources while they were away.

 

In contrast to previous shorter shutdowns, the Department of Interior recalled 800 employees to issue drilling permits during the shutdown. According to the Western Organization of Resource Councils, 224 oil and gas drilling applications were processed, 22 permits were approved, 15 oil and gas leases were sold, and thousands of acres of subsurface mineral rights were leased during the shutdown. In contrast, no federal archaeologists were available to process archaeological permits, review reports, or analyze potential impacts to cultural resources from energy extraction or other projects. Cultural resource consultants who rely on federal contracts, federal permits, or federal compliance review were also impacted by the government shutdown, as were university programs receiving federal funding.

 

SAA’s 2015 member needs assessment survey revealed that roughly 7 percent of SAA members (roughly 500 archaeologists) work for the federal government, and an even larger number of members do the bulk of their archaeological work on federal lands or with federal funding or permits. The American Cultural Resource Association is compiling shutdown stories to share with legislators about how the shutdown affected archaeologists’ ability to do our jobs. If you have a shutdown story, please share it at https://www.acra-crm.org/acrasphere/7135390/Reply?replyTo=7135390#7135390.

I have received some feedback asserting that SAA was wrong to have taken a stance against funding for the border wall when urging members to contact their Senators to end the shutdown. I want to clarify that our opposition to the wall is based on the very real threat that construction of a border wall – or border fence – will be done without any archaeological surveys or mitigation of impacts to archaeological sites. In August 2018, the Coalition for American Heritage (CAH) filed comments with the Customs and Border Patrol regarding their decision to waive crucial preservation and environmental laws to expedite the construction of 33 miles of fencing in the Rio Grande Valley along the U.S. – Mexico border, stating “This decision will endanger irreplaceable cultural heritage resources, including numerous archaeological sites that would otherwise be considered prior to construction.” We have every reason to believe that, should the administration receive funding to build additional segments of border walls, they will continue to waive national historic preservation and environmental laws to expedite construction.

SAA will continue to advocate with the new Congress for continued adherence to existing federal legislation protecting cultural resources, for stronger laws to safeguard against the export of looted antiquities, and for adequate funding for cultural resource programs. We are optimistic that the new Democratic leadership in the House will be receptive to our message and will continue to reach across the aisle to key Republican members of Congress to assist us in our efforts.

Susan M. Chandler, RPA

President

 

Again, we hope to have a companion piece posted soon to provide an additional narrative of the effects of such a shutdown.

IUP Anthropology Department

I Can Munsell That? (Part 3)

Today we bring you the latest installment of “I Can Munsell That.”  The series where I get to Munsell something unusual for my own enjoyment and curiosity and share the results with you.  In this edition we will be using the Munsell Soil Color Chart on a delicious snack that someone was so kind to make and contribute to the collective grad lounge snacks.  What is it you ask?  Maple, peanut, and bacon popcorn!  You heard me right, that’s a sweet and salty popcorn mix.

This lovely snack has four main parts to examine: plain popcorn, glazed popcorn, glazed peanuts, and bacon.  Due to different amounts of the maple glaze, there are an array of hues on the glazed items, so I will focus on what shade seems the most prominent.  Let’s begin with the base of this, plain ol’ popcorn.  It fits quite well with 9.5/N (white) on the white page.  The glazed popcorn is where the issues of hues begin.  To me, it looks around 10YR 4/6 (dark yellowish brown), side note the color depicted in the image is slightly different due to lighting but I note it like I see it.  Then we have the peanuts which get fairly close to 10YR 6/8 (brownish yellow), almost a perfect match.  Finally, we have the bacon which doesn’t have the best color match in a Munsell color chart (surprise!) but there’s a decent match.  This specific bacon bit was around 10R 3/4 (dusky red).

 

plain popcorn

glazed popcorn

glazed peanuts

bacon

That’s all for today folks.  Thank you for indulging me in my nonsense.  Need more silliness?  Want to know more about the Munsell color system?  Click here or here to be redirected to my older posts on the subject.  Or you can click here and see where the inspiration for this series came from.

IUP Anthropology Department

Thinking About Archaeology in Media

Sitting in my office, coffee in hand, I scroll through various websites.  In truth, I’m just looking for new or interesting articles that I’ve yet to see.  However, I’ve been noticing a pattern and it’s not quite positive.  There is a degree of pseudo-archaeology that sticks its ugly nose in.  Now, the positive thing here is that this degree of disinformation and inaccurate representation does not apply to most articles that I have been seeing but it fluctuates depending on the website.  Particularly on social media (mainly Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit) is where I see the highest degree of false or self-serving archaeology. I guess this shouldn’t be surprising as most of the articles I’ve seen like this come from those sites that post anything for sensationalism and reap that sweet, sweet ad revenue.

The point I’m trying to reach is that I’m seeing archaeology inaccurately represented and used for self-serving purposes more than I should.  By no means am I the only person to notice or feel the need to write, perhaps vent, about this.  Archaeology is not accurately represented in media, and this is the basis of my complaints.  For media to pass along a message, it needs to be digestible for the average reader.  Archaeologists, whether budding or professional, are not the average reader.  It is not designed for us, but for the public audience.  Where we want to know everything from methodology to data interpretation, this would make the average public audience glassy-eyed between the minute details, terminology, and the typical length of an article.  It needs to get to the point while glamorizing various portions of the work to draw in the audience and keep their attention.  Or, it needs to be done in a manner that serves a purpose beyond upping ad revenue.

You know, my most notable grievance come from media outlets that I have enjoyed for years, like the Travel and History channels.  These outlets give archaeology a home in mainstream media outlets, but it becomes twisted and warped.  Legitimate archaeology becomes intermixed with conspiracy theories, like the idea of ancient aliens.  I think Dr. David S. Anderson spells this out clearly in his Washington Post article about “Legends of the Lost” stating:

“Legends of the Lost” often ends up in just such a place. (Megan) Fox, a Hollywood actress, is clear throughout the episodes that she wants to find evidence of myth and magic — and to show up the devotees of “hidebound academia.” To come to these conclusions, she is perfectly happy to make use of scholarly research that can fit into her narrative, but sadly most everything else is left out of the show.

Essentially, this is an example of media cherry-picking information to best suit their needs, and in this case the needs are sensationalism and viewership.  Yes, this is far more entertaining for a typical audience but that doesn’t make this information correct by any means.  I could complain about more shows like American Pickers (antique dealers with shop called Antique Archaeology), The Curse of Oak Island (glorified treasure hunting), Pawn Stars (with their history of dealing historical artifacts), Ancient Aliens (duh), and a fair few others.  Frankly, these shows like to take the information that fits their story and make leaps that Evel Knievel couldn’t.  Not all of them do, Pawn Stars and American Pickers try to give a brief history of material possessions, but that is how I see them.

I’d like to say that I’m upset by the way that archaeology is portrayed in the media, and to a degree I am, but it is not all bad.  There are outlets that show archaeology for what it really is.  There are hundreds of archaeology blogs, numerous documentaries, and even a few TV shows that do this.  While I can’t vouch for the quality of every blog, documentary, show, book, magazine, publication, and whatever else but they do exist, and I hope those sources get picked up more by the general public.  Will they? Maybe a few, but if it’s not made to entertain then the interest in it will probably be limited.

IUP Department of Anthropology

Holidays and Skeptical Family

Welcome to the first post of the new year folks!  I hope everyone has enjoyed the various holidays and found this time restful, relaxing, other adjectives, and so on.  I know that I have felt exceptionally lazy since the last semester ended, but I have caught up on some much-needed sleep.  So, let’s start the year off with something I’ve experienced before, something I’m sure so many of my peers have experienced as well.  While holidays are a time for bringing families together, it is also a time for those estranged relatives to judge every aspect of your life.

“Why don’t you have a girlfriend?”

“Have you found a job yet?” 

“That’s an interesting degree, but you’re not going to find work.” 

OK, hold up, I can stand some prodding and poking into my personal/private life, but you can’t just make a judgement call like that without knowing the extent of archaeological or otherwise anthropological work.  Now, I managed to avoid that last statement this year, but I’ve heard it before and something tells me that those reading this blog have probably encountered this.  So, let’s debunk this.

What can you do with your degree?  Well, it’ll vary based on what degree(s) you have and where you choose to specialize, but let’s use my current degree and what I’m working towards as an example.

Anthropology BA – There’s more you can do with a BA in Anthropology than your doubting second cousin twice removed will ever believe.  Here is a list of job titles taken strictly from Indeed (a site dedicated to jobs): Archaeological Field Technician (very first result), Research Assistant (American Museum of Natural History), Administrative Aide (various ANTH Dept), Case Manager (social services), Mental Health Technician (various hospitals), Public Programs Coordinator, Audience Research Associate (Philadelphia Museum of Art).  Look, there is work available in hospitals, museums, social service groups, and CRM.  There’s more if you take the time to just look around.

Applied Archaeology MA – So a BA wasn’t going to be enough, eh?  Yeah, it seems like it never is anymore.  Every job wants the highest degree imaginable plus five years of experience.  So, this degree seems a little more straightforward.  I assume most people getting a MA in Archaeology, applied or otherwise, are probably trying to become a registered professional archaeologist.  This of course opens pathways further in CRM and academic archaeology.  That’s not the only possibility though, you can get work as a conservator, a heritage manager, or in an array of museum positions related to curation, education, and preservation.

Look, I could expand this to other similar degrees and/or continuations of these degrees, but there’s more than I’ll ever be able to list.  The fact of the matter is, you can find work in archaeology and anthropology.

IUP Department of Anthropology

Lessons From the First Semester of a Grad Student

Somehow, it has already been a full semester since I started as a grad student here at IUP.  I have no idea where the time has gone or why it seems like there won’t be enough time within the next week to get everything done.  Since finals begin next week, I figure now would be a good time for a little reflection.

I won’t lie, this first semester has been challenging, but I’m not in this alone.  After all, as Dr. Ford has been saying all semester, Archaeology is a social science that requires you to be social and I feel so lucky to have such an amazing cohort/class that helps one another.

In the spirit of helping others, I hope I can impart a few things I’ve learned from this semester onto future students.

  1. Grad school is a serious commitment and not just financially. I didn’t realize how little of my life would exist besides classwork.  Make sure you can keep the basics of life in order.
  2. Time management is key if you want to minimize the number of all-nighters. It doesn’t look like much on the syllabus, but it will probably take longer than you expect.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t understand something or you need more time on an assignment, just ask.  The worst that will happen is someone can’t help you.  Then remember, you have a whole department, professors and peers, that could probably help you out.
  4. If you’re as socially awkward as I am, this is going to hurt, but get used to talking in front of others. Between class discussions and presentations, you need to know how to talk to people.  I’m one of those people who hates public speaking, even after reading at open mic poetry nights for a couple years.  What I can tell you though, is that once you know people in the room, it gets easier.  I know this is lame advice but stare at someone you know.  Talking to a friend, teaching them something, is far easier than talking to people you’ve never seen.
  5. You’re not in this alone, no matter the program or department.  All your professors went through grad school and your peers are going through it at the same time as you are.
  6. Remind yourself that this will not last forever. The grass is greener on the other side and all that jazz.

IUP Anthropology Department

Musings of a Recent IUP Graduate

By Samantha Taylor

Let’s face it…grad school feels like an eternity. My two years at IUP felt almost as long if not longer than my four years in undergrad. It’s only been six months since I received my M.A. from IUP and time is flying by. So much has happened and I’m proud to say that IUP has adequately prepared me for life as a professional archaeologist.

A brick pathway found beneath a potential robber’s trench in front of Spotswood’s Enchanted Castle.

This past summer I accepted a job as the assistant site director for Virginia Commonwealth University’s field school at the Fort Germanna/Enchanted Castle Site in Orange County, Virginia. The position was 15 weeks long and my first foray into supervising. I was nervous to teach students how to dig and to serve as a role model for future archaeologists. My job description included assisting the site director (the amazing Dr. Eric Larsen), supervising our four interns, and teaching field school students. Our goal was to locate the Fort Germanna, an early 18th century fort built by Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood for German colonists. The fort supposedly intersected the west hyphen of the Enchanted Castle, Spotswood’s house which postdated the abandonment of the fort. This summer we excavated the area to the north of the structure which hugged the façade of the house. While we did not find the fort, we were able to better understand the function of the front lawn of the Enchanted Castle. Meanwhile, students and interns were able to gain valuable experience. I was incredibly fortunate that my boss, interns, and students were all wonderful and talented. During my time at Germanna, I took a particular interest in helping design the four public access days that Germanna hosted this past summer. In fact, I will be chairing a session the first ever paper session on Germanna Archaeology and presenting on Germanna public archaeology at MAAC next spring (be there or be square). I doubt I’ve enjoyed a job as much as I’ve enjoyed my time at Germanna. Not only was my position fulfilling, but I made lifelong friends with my crew and was able to inspire some of them to continue pursuing archaeology as a career.

An overview of all of the Test Units opened at Germanna during the 2018 season.

My job at Germanna came to an end on August 30th, but fortunately my next job was already lined up. I started my current position at New South Associates, Inc. on September 4th. I am an archaeologist/field director at the Greensboro office in North Carolina. My job description includes directing field work and writing reports for various projects across the southeast. I spend about 50% of my job working in the field with a variety of archaeologists who come from all over. The other 50% of my time is spent synthesizing data and writing reports.

The Field School on our last day! We were small but mighty!

While it’s only been six months since I graduated from IUP, I feel as though my post-grad school career has been successful and fulfilling thus far. It’s definitely not always easy, and takes just as much dedication and time-management as school did. I know I have a long road ahead of me still, but wherever archaeology takes me I’ll be happy to go. So, to all the current graduate students and prospective graduate students here’s my advice: grad school is an emotional and physical commitment. It isn’t easy but it is worth it. Your two years in classes will feel like an eternity. Your time spent working on your thesis will feel never-ending. But the good news is that the grass is greener on the other side, and that these challenges will ultimately prepare you for what is ahead. Don’t give up, keep going! Your M.A. is on the horizon!

Learning how to 3D Scan artifacts, courtesy of Dr. Bernard Means from VCU’s Virtual Curation Lab (VCL)

IUP Anthropology Department

Professionalism and Networking in CRM: Reflecting on a Panel Discussion

Special thanks to our Applied Archaeology Advisory Board: Chris Espenshade-PI, Skelly and Loy; Terry Klein-VP, SRI Foundation; Kate Marcopul-New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office; Ira Beckerman-Cultural Resources Unit Chief, PennDOT (just retired in October); Wade Catts–South River Heritage Consulting.

On Nov. 7, 2018 our Applied Archaeology Advisory Board lead a panel discussion titled “Professionalism and Networking in CRM.”  Essentially, what you should and should not do when trying to get a job or when working in CRM.  In this post, I hope to pass along some of the things that I learned from this discussion.  It is not an all-encompassing list (someone forgot to grab their notebook from the van) but some of the more important points are still rattling around in my head.  So, without further ado, a list of things (with my patented flow of consciousness) to keep in mind when trying to work in archaeology.

  1. Networking is essential, people tend to get jobs because they know somebody who knows somebody. This sounds obvious, particularly for a professional in a field of social science (social being the key word here).  Conferences are a great way to do this, the downside is that they’re expensive.  There are ways to cut some costs as a student (depending on your department) but this leads to the next point.
  2. Get your name known. As a fresh face in the archaeology job market, how do you get known?  Again, this can go back to conferences.  If you can present at a conference, do it.  This is when you can probably apply for funding through your department and cut costs.  Even if you just present a poster, it’s worth it.  People will come to you when presenting a poster and this is a great way to not only network but let your name be seen in an environment that shows you take the field seriously.  As an addition to presenting posters, keep a stack of business cards with you, maybe a stack of resumes, and give them out.  Sure, you may never get a call about a job that way, but this gets your name out there.  If you can’t get to as many conferences as you’d like, then get yourself published.  Maybe you just graduated with an M.A. in Applied Archaeology, you have a thesis, so what do you do with it?  Get a summary published and share what you’ve worked so hard on.  Another option is to get book reviews published.  Reach out to a journal and see if they have a list of books they would like reviewed.  It’s not a guarantee that you’ll get published but not a lot of folks like to do book reviews, so you probably have a good chance (plus you might even get a free book, never say no to a free book).
  3. Resumes and CVs are your first impression to a potential employer (duh). Tailor your resume/CV to fit the company and the job you’re seeking.  Save a little time for yourself and make a full resume, write down everything you can think of, and use it to copy and paste to the resume you want to send out.  Still have people look at it, this just saves you from rewriting everything.  Another thought, think twice about putting your picture on it, I don’t know why anyone would, but it puts people off.  Last thought, put serious consideration into your cover letter.  Try not to paint yourself as an expert in something when the job doesn’t require that, leave it listed in your resume.  Also, treat it like a sample of your technical writing skills because employers do.
  4. Interviews – Learn about the company before going in. Be inquisitive, at the very least ask those cookie-cutter questions like what typical work hours are like or the dress code, show that you’re interested.  Better yet, ask about what the company does besides what you’re applying for.  Beyond this, be thoughtful in your answers and take a minute to think if you need to.  It would be better to be known for taking a moment to respond with something meaningful than blurting out the first, possibly unrelated, thing you can think of.  To use one of my favorite phrases, a closed mouth gathers no foot.
  5. Working – Congratulations, you got a job! What now?  Keep your wits about you, as someone with a graduate degree you’re expected to be able to learn quickly.  You will not know everything, no program will teach you everything, so take things as they come.  If there’s something you don’t know about, try to learn about it on your own but there is nothing wrong with asking questions when you need to.  It’s better to ask first and deal with whatever you must versus making a mistake that you might not be able to fix later.  Also, show your competence at work.  I’m not trying to sound harsh here but that could mean the difference in keeping your job or not at the end of the field season.

Again, special thanks to our Applied Archaeology Advisory Board for this discussion along with giving our students a chance to network.

IUP Anthropology Department

Public Outreach In Archaeology, Are We Doing Enough?

Something that I have been thinking about recently is public outreach in archaeology.  It may in part be because we’re about two weeks past International Archaeology Day and our open house (which you can read more about by scrolling to the previous blog) or that I’ve recently read some articles on the subject for class.  Not that this is only reason I’ve been thinking about public outreach, but it may just be what has brought it to the forefront.  I wanted to share a few thoughts and I apologize now if this turns more into a flow of consciousness than an informative piece.

Public outreach seems like such a simple idea, you find a way to share your fieldwork, research, and findings with non-archaeologists.  You share what hopefully makes you enthusiastic and get people engaged.  We tend to make this far more difficult than it needs to be, and sometimes for good reasons.  To paraphrase Joe Baker of PennDOT in his 2017 PAC Symposium Presentation, we are not all experts in public communication and that’s perfectly fine.  It may be that only a small percentage of archaeologists are comfortable with and can effectively engage the public, again this is perfectly fine.  In my time with the IUP Anthropology Department, both as an undergrad and a graduate student, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting peers and professionals that are brilliant in their own right but I could not imagine them working in public outreach.  Sure, anyone can post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit, Snapchat, YouTube, or any of the other dozens of social media platforms or hundreds of blog sites and I encourage it.  There’s significance in spreading information and this is something most of us can do with ease and spread to non-archaeologist audiences.  However, not everyone that’s posting about archaeology should be a communication professional.  We do not all have the necessary interpersonal skills and that’s just how things are.

Public outreach is an important issue for many of us.  The Society for American Archaeology has a set of principles and ethics that they would urge all professional archaeologists to follow.  The very first principle is stewardship and can be broken into two portions.  Stewards are both caretakers and advocates of the archaeological record for the benefit of all people.  The first portion is not much of an issue, though I could argue that we have fallen behind since the increase of archaeology for the sake of salvaging sites, but that’s a blog for another day.  The point on advocating for archaeology is where I think that we have fallen behind.  There are devout advocates who I applaud for what they do even if I take issue with a method or two.  What about the average archaeologist though?  What can they do to fulfill this principle and how can they aid public outreach?  There’s not a true answer, but I think the best way would be by getting people involved from the beginning.  If there are groups already invested, talk to them, see what they would want to know.  I don’t mean to say we should do everything they ask, there’s only so much time and money to go around, but this would be a potential way to get more people interested.  Their questions may even become the basis of new research questions.  Another option could be to open sites to the public for more than just one day a field season or an archaeology day style event at the end.  I wouldn’t call it uncommon to open a site up to visitors and interested peoples, but it’s limited.  During my field school at Squirrel Hill, we never advertised a day when people could come in and learn along with us.  That didn’t stop people from finding us and we, I should just say Dr. Messer, would be more than happy to talk to the few that showed up.  Careful of what we would say, particularly around a couple of older gentlemen who were openly pothunters.  These are the kind of people we both want and don’t want to talk to and they are the kind of folks that I believe add to our cautiousness when involving a site.  I think we are afraid of letting people into sites because of the potential damage immediately or future through additional looting.  But if we can teach people the importance of archaeology and why they shouldn’t loot, do we really have to worry so much?  I honestly don’t know, but I’d like to believe that we wouldn’t have to worry as much.

Again, I feel that we as archaeologists have fallen behind on that second portion of stewardship.  It seems to me that instances of public outreach aren’t necessarily planned that well, more like they are hastily tacked onto the end of a field season.  Something that we can still pat ourselves on the back for and say we did something.  The fact is, we could do more, and I believe we should.  What exactly?  That’s up for debate, the possibilities are only limited by our imaginations.  An archaeology day open house is great, so is opening a site to the public, sharing appropriate posts online with non-archaeologist audiences, and taking the time to work with school programs.  How about sponsoring a TEDx Talk?  How about aiding your local Boy Scouts Troop and helping them get their archaeology merit badge or writing to whoever heads the Girl Scouts and suggesting an archaeology badge?  How about creating a display for public spaces or schools to talk about archaeology?  I’m sure that time and funding will be cited as the main issues with wanting to do more, but should that deter us from even trying to be stewards of archaeology?  No.

I hope this made as much sense on paper, or in cyberspace, as it did in my head.  Please, leave your thoughts in the comment below, lets keep this thought process open and get to some discussion.

IUP Anthropology Department