Archaeology is above all a cooperative undertaking involving a variety of scientific disciplines to illumine the unwritten history-the record-of past peoples. At almost any site, an archaeologist must work with biologists and geologists to complete research. And archaeologists not only study settlements in concert with others, they also seek to preserve these sites from vandalism and looting, working closely with law enforcement authorities, state and federal government officials, and most important, members of Native American groups whose very legacy might be lost without close vigilance.
This booklet, too, is a cooperative undertaking, and the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) is pleased to have joined with National Geographic and the Department of the Interior in this booklet's initial creation and this new edition. I am proud to acknowledge here the contributions of SAA members to this effort.
Some 5,000 professional and avocational archaeologists belong to the Society for American Archaeology, and for more than 50 years we have promoted scholarly communication and greater public understanding of the importance of preserving the unwritten histories of the Americas. SAA's annual meeting each year attracts more than 2,000 archaeologists. The organization publishes two journals, a directory, and other publications to keep members and others on top of developments in the field. The SAA also works with Congress and federal agencies to improve protection of archaeological sites. In addition, members are active in making archaeology one of the subjects taught in our nation's schools.
Between the covers of this booklet are clear and straightforward descriptions of how archaeologists look for ancient settlements, how they excavate them, and how the materials recovered are analyzed. You will also learn about the destruction of archaeological sites around the world-how looting and the sale of antiquities are erasing the record of past cultures-and what is being done to try to stop this destruction. Archaeology & You sets the record straight on what archaeology is. It also will help you decide the role you can play in this cooperative venture, as all of us-professional and nonprofessional alike-work to preserve those sites so important to our uniquely American histories.
Bruce D. Smith
Society for American Archaeology