All archaeologists have professional and ethical obligations to share their research findings with other archaeologists in the scientific community and with the general public. The Society for American Archaeology’s Principles of Archaeological Ethics is an important document that stresses the professional responsibility that archaeologists have to engage in public education and outreach.
Archaeologists write and publish site reports and scholarly articles about their research in professional journals. They also are obliged to share the results of their work with the general public, by writing for popular magazines; creating brochures, exhibits, or web sites about their work; or giving talks at local schools, libraries, and historical societies. Some archaeologists invite public participation in surveys, excavations, and laboratory work and train volunteers to assist in these areas. These public archaeology programs are becoming more and more common across the country. The community archaeology program in Alexandria, Virginia, for example, is a partnership between city archaeologists, community volunteers, citizen groups, and students, all of whom work together to find, study, and interpret 9,000 years of community history. The Yates Community Archaeology Program in Houston, Texas is a collaborative community centered project involving people of all races and classes. Scholars work with community members and descendants in all phases of the research on Freedman’s Town—a 19th century community founded by freed African-Americans after the Civil War.
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- To Dig or Not to Dig: The Stadium Showdown
This simulation encourages students to examine an ethical public dilemma. Through the use of role play, students examine their personal beliefs and feelings concerning the protection of cultural resources, and evaluate possible actions they might take regarding the protection of those cultural resources. Students will analyze conflicting points-of-view using a discussion format, participate in a group centered decision-making activity focusing on a public issue, articulate personal decisions about issues affecting the individual and community, and explore personal values concerning the preservation of historical resources.
- Find out how to get involved in archaeology in your community. For information on archaeology fieldwork opportunities for both teachers and students visit Fieldwork Opportunities and Teacher Training or contact the Society for American Archaeology coordinator in your state.
- Most states celebrate Archaeology Week or Month. Check out the activities happening in your state during archaeology month. You can also contact the office of your State Archaeologist to find a local archaeological society and other archaeology activities in your area.