Read This: “Do you even know what public archaeology is” 59

I had the pleasure of reading a version of this article a while ago and I will be assigning it for my summer field school students. It is a thoughtful piece on where we’ve come from and where we should be going in public archaeology. It is written by Lorna Richardson and Jaimes Almansa-Sanchez, co-chairs of the Working Group in Public Archaeology for the European Association of Archaeology. Here’s a quote:

The political and economic facets of public archaeology are still under-researched, and yet he social impact of community archaeology seems to be too successful to be true (we only recall one publication showing problems with a community; Mapunda 2013). Are we really always that successful? Or we are afraid of showing (and publishing) our failures. In a subject that has grown up inextricably linked with practice, there must be more examples to learn from.

Our concerns as authors and professionals are that we stand at an ethical crossroads. The unchecked practice of so-called public-archaeology projects due to what we have here identified as a practise of trend and fashion (with its intrinsic value for obtaining funding) endangers the discipline and risks its ethical practice.

Ethics is essential for public archaeology, as we are not only dealing with material remains, or heritage, but with human beings. The consequences of our actions can be highly negative if we fail to understand and practice a good public archaeology. We are not defining here what a ‘good’ public archaeology is, but we certainly advise practitioners to be extremely careful and think about it as a discipline that needs professional public archaeologists.


Richardson, Lorna-Jane and Jaime Almansa-Sanchez

2015 “Do you even know what public archaeology is? Trends, theory, practice, ethics” World Archaeology.

You can preview here. Open access copy can be requested via


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