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K. Kris Hirst

What is Public Archaeology?

By July 19, 2010

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Public archaeology, also called community archaeology in some places, is the passing along of information discovered in academic archaeology to people outside of the profession, whether that information is passed along via the Internet, or books, television programs, lectures, pamphlets, museum displays, archaeology fairs, or by opening up excavations to the public.

Public Archaeology Table, Peralta Hacienda Historical Park
Public Archaeology Table,
Peralta Hacienda Historical Park. Photo by David R. Cohen

Many scholars are reluctant to participate in public archaeology, perhaps because it takes away time from their research, or because they are uncomfortable in public venues, or because they can't resolve the many ethical dilemmas that accompany making culturally sensitive data public.

The new article Public Archaeology describes many of these ethical issues, particularly those concerning preservation of archaeological sites, and the privacy of descendants of the people studied. Practicing public archaeology is complicated, and I for one greatly appreciate those scholars who do dedicate some of their research time to explaining what it is they do and what they have learned to the rest of us. Without their input into these pages, this public archaeology venue would be much poorer.


July 20, 2010 at 7:37 pm
(1) Ben says:

“they can’t resolve the many ethical dilemmas that accompany making culturally sensitive data public. ”

Hmmm, in my book, if you don’t publish, you are not doing work. Just navel gazing. Fine for you but what is the point of it! As for reaching the wider public, well yes, that seems to me to be the whole point of research.

July 31, 2010 at 10:15 pm
(2) chrerie says:

Wonderful info. Many thanks

March 21, 2014 at 4:06 am
(3) gotowanie says:

We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our
community. Your website offered us with useful info to work on.
You have performed a formidable job and our entire community might be thankful to you.

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