Archaeology’s Image Problem

When people hear that I am an archaeologist they often say that they or someone they knew always wanted to be an archaeologist. Then they ask me how often I travel to Egypt and what was the most valuable thing I have ever found. Clearly their idea of what archaeology is comes from fiction.

Archaeology sites in this country, in this state, even in this town are destroyed every day by people who do not know what archaeology really is or why they should care. Some of this destruction is from construction – which is a necessary part of every town’s life. But some of it is from people who try to beat archaeologists to “buried treasure” – taking objects out of their context and rendering them meaningless (the opposite of treasure).

Students in ANTH 100, an introductory archaeology course, will be exploring archaeology’s image problem. In this blog, Vassar students will provide their insights into why archaeology may be one of the most misunderstood fields of inquiry. Each post will use content from that week’s lectures and readings to address the core issues. Posts will be either 400-500 words in length or 4 minutes of audio/video. This will allow students to focus on the main issues, as they see them. Links will be used to point readers to supporting or related information such as primary sources.

Comments and debate are welcome.

-Dr. Beisaw