Working with the Public at the Gault Site

Guest post by Clark Wernecke

Members of the Texas Archaeological Society during a 2000 field school at the Gault Site.

Members of the Texas Archaeological Society during a 2000 field school at the Gault Site.

As an archaeologist one of my primary duties is to uncover information regarding human behavior in the past and to pass on usable information to my colleagues and the general public. If I excavate the rest of my life and fail to do this then I have wasted my life – it’s that simple. Archaeology is not about filling in museum cases or rewriting history texts, it is about expanding our knowledge of how humans behaved in the past to improve our understanding of behavior in the present and predict it in the future.

I have been particularly lucky in my career to have worked on many different types of archaeology throughout the world and, on occasion, I have worked with archaeologists who viewed the public as a distraction at best and nuisance at worst. A few years ago I was at a seminar where a panel of archaeologists discussed one national volunteer program as a bunch of “old, retired folks” who were nice enough but took up their time. I also had worked with this group and, when asked my opinion, I noted that those “old folks” were retired engineers, architects, doctors, surveyors and even anthropologists and they have the time to spend volunteering on your projects!

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