Tag Archives: Southwest US

“So, you dug it up and then you just reburied it?”

Last summer, I was involved in a small excavation in northern New Mexico for my dissertation project. When I give formal talks about our work, with lots of background information, people get excited about the research questions and how much we learned from just a month of work. At those times I feel like I’m making some progress as a public archaeologist, something that is very new to me. But in more casual conversations, it’s sometimes hard to get the excitement across. Folks are intrigued at first when I tell them we were excavating a thousand year old building that may have had as many as 100 rooms, but then I can see their interest dim a little as they realize how small our excavation actually was. It usually leads to two questions: First, “Are you going back next summer?”  Second, “Wait, so you just reburied it all at the end? Archaeologists understand that extensive, long-term excavations are neither necessary nor feasible in most places, that research funding is severely limited, that our labs are full of artifacts and samples that we may never have time to properly analyze, and that backfilling is the best way to preserve architecture and features. But that is [Read More]

Martin’s Cove and the Future of Public Archaeology

Howdy! With this final post, I will relinquish my tenure as the guest editor of the Binghamton MAPA blog. It’s been a pleasure covering issues in public archaeology in the American West. I suspect you’ll enjoy the work of my successor, the very capable Trish Markert, a PhD student in historical archaeology. So now my task is to bundle up the several ideas I’ve explored this month, and to propose a few things that will be challenges for public archaeology in the future. As you may have noticed, I’ve got a lot to say on the issue of public archaeology and the public lands of the West. But I’ve got comprehensive exams to take in a few weeks, a dissertation prospectus to be writing, and grading to be done! So I’m forced to keep this as brief as possible, and leave several major issues unexplored.   However, for now, I want to turn to the issue of the public and private spheres, and how public archaeology is going to increasingly be called on to mediate the two, particularly in regards to sacred sites, cultural landscapes, and traditional cultural properties. Since large-scale, publicly-funded salvage archaeology began during the Depression, we’ve gotten pretty [Read More]

Public Archaeology and our Vast Public Lands

Greetings! I am Kellam Throgmorton, PhD student in archaeology, and I will be at the helm of the Binghamton MAPA blog this month. Over the next several weeks I will be highlighting the ways that archaeology intersects with the vast public lands located throughout much of the western United States. These are spaces that collectively belong to the citizens of the nation, though opinions vary widely on what they mean, who controls them, and how they should be managed. These opinions are often expressed in strong language and actions: an armed occupation of federal facilities in Oregon; contentious public meetings between ranchers, Native groups, environmentalists, and federal officials in Utah; and ongoing peaceful protests by tribal members in North Dakota intent on protecting vital cultural sites. In this month’s posts, I will explore the surprising connections between these events, public lands, and archaeology. Previous guest editors have interpreted “public archaeology” in numerous ways. Clearly an important facet of public archaeology is critical engagement with one of several “publics”—be they descendant communities or people who simply have an interest in local history. Similarly, previous posts have used the term “archaeology” primarily to refer to the material remains of the past—houses, monuments, [Read More]