As with any industry or field, there are best practices for including and engaging the public in archaeology. Public Archaeology encompasses a multitude of ideas, activities, and interests that change with time, location, and audience. Doing public archaeology is not just about slides with less jargon or the proper booklet for a site tour. Below are some tried and true resources and techniques for bringing archaeology to the public.
Sources on Public Archaeology [PDF 189 KB]
This bibliography covers scholarly sources within archaeology that illustrate the ongoing disciplinary debate concerning the differing meanings attached to the term public archaeology, ethics, and the shift towards community-based research approaches. The bibliography is the basis of a field statement written by Kim Christensen in 2006 as a requirement for advancement to Ph.D. candidacy in the Anthropology Department at the University of California, Berkeley. Provided courtesy of Kim Christensen.
The NAGPRA Video Project began in October 2008 with the mission to create a training series that would include grant-writing tips, first-person narratives, program statistics, anecdotal evidence, and in-depth, engaging coverage of the entirety of the law and its consequences. The National NAGPRA Program has conducted fifty interviews in ten cities across the country. These interviews with tribal members, museum officials, and Federal agency representatives have created a historic archive of resources on consultation, grants, notices, law making, dispositions, documentation, and repatriation. The entire eight-segment series is available to the public.
This joint program of Montana State University and the Bureau of Land Management offers workshops and educational resources. Project Archaeology workshops are conducted by facilitators who provide training and mentoring to local educators who wish to incorporate archaeology into their classroom teaching. Workshop participants receive the Project Archaeology activity guides, designed for Grades 4-7, or one of their curriculum guides (Grades 3-5). Online courses are also offered.
Giving Public Lectures
2003 The Archaeologist as Storyteller: How to Get the Public To Care About What You Do [PDF 977 KB]. The SAA Archaeological Record 3(1):7-10.
2002 Communicating With the Public Part III: Writing for the Public and Making It Look Good [PDF 2.5 MB]. The SAA Archaeological Record 2(1):30-31.
2003 Producing Effective Exhibits for Archaeology Fairs [PDF 1.6 MB]. The SAA Archaeological Record 3(2):11-12.
Lesson Plan Tips
1998 Key to Classroom Content [PDF 483 KB]. Archaeology & Public Education 8(3):7-9.
Outreach and Interpretation
The National Park Service Archeology Guide module on Archeology Outreach
provides a reference guide, or handbook, to best practices, policies, and tools. The resources aim to assist NPS staff in outreach efforts that communicate the public benefits of archeology to a broad constituency.
With this four-part guide, archaeologists and interpreters receive training in each other's disciplines and work together to provide effective and accurate interpretation of archaeological information and resources to the public. The National Park Service in cooperation with the Center for Heritage Resource Studies, University of Maryland, College Park developed this guide in 2004.
Assessment of Archaeology Interpretation
A guide from the National Park Service to help archaeologists and interpreters to assess their outreach efforts.