Public Archaeology...
        Project Examples

These projects demonstrate some of the current innovations that are transforming society's relationship with archaeological resources. These projects may involve public dialogue, community outreach, technological research, and or policy development and may engage specific or at large communities, business or public interest groups, descendants, stakeholders, and or public officials. The context may involve, among other factors, gentrification, tourism, race relations, national memory, and community empowerment. For additional information, see alsoActivities & Centers and What is Public Archaeology? Community Archaeology? Civic Engagement? etc., Do you have information to share here? Send your contributions and comments to us here...  Visit later to see how this page develops.



 The President's House: Freedom and Slavery in Making a New Nation
A joint undertaking of the City of Philadelphia and the National Park Service, the President's House project is in response to community interest, in particular that of the Avenging the Ancestors Coalition (ATAC) and the Independence Hall Association. This web site hosted by the Mayor's Office of the City of Philadelphia, has, among other resources, the President's House Site Archeology Briefing Paper, texts of several Community Roundtable Discussions, and links to the Independence Hall Association's extensive coverage of the President's House history, re-discovery, expanded interpretation, and commemoration. (Context: National Memory,  African Americans, NPS Community Engagement,  federal and local  government partnering)

Remixing Çatalhöyük (Turkey)
Online, interactive site that encourages visitors to contribute their own interpretations of the history of Çatalhöyük, a Neolithic farming community dating about 9,400 to 7,700 years ago. Based on excavations by the University of California, Berkeley.(Context: multi-vocal history, interpretation, bilingual)

 Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project
This community-based heritage and education project is establishing an accessible archive of historical, archaeological, and environmental information for the Clanwilliam area of South Africa. The project involves teaching curricula for local and visiting school groups and a job creation programme designed to generate sustainable small businesses. The project also reconnects people "with a past from which colonialism and apartheid have largely severed them". The community is involved with heritage planning and the area's heritage and archaeology are showcased as pillars of the regional economy. (Context: community heritage, school enrichment, sustainable business, national memory, South Africa)

 Archaeology in Annapolis (University of Maryland and Historic Annapolis Foundation)
On-going discourse in archaeology through field school excavations and public tours; focus on critical anthropology and diverse interpretations of historical event. (Context: heritage tourism, field school, "active discourse", local community).

 The Burra Community Archaeology Project (Australia)
The Burra Community Archaeology Project "researches the archaeological manifestations of multiculturalism in colonial Australia, including the manner in which this aspect of colonial history is incorporated into contemporary cultural tourism strategies and practices". (Context: multiculturalism, tourism, partnering government agencies, Australia)

 Archaeological Legacy Institute (ALI)
Non-profit organization associated with The Archaeology Channel dedicated to partnering with the lay public in archaeological projects, increasing the public’s awareness of archaeology, protection of archaeological resources, working with indigenous stakeholders.(Context: media, Native American tribes, ethics, youth education)



 Yates Community Archaeology Project, TX
"YCAP is a collaborative, community centered project with participants from all ethnicities and classes. It seeks to understand the impact of the African Diaspora on both sides of the Atlantic, and on all of our fellow citizens, and to do so through an African-centered lens of history, culture and understanding. By working collaboratively, the participants in the YCAP are attempting to build bridges between people of different race and class – bridges which, over time, may be able to destroy the barriers built by our shared and bloodstained histories." (Context: African American heritage, community heritage)


Carved shell cameo excavated from the slave quarters at the Jordan Plantation


 Levi Jordan Plantation, TX
This web site was a dissertation research project designed to help us learn "more about how people talk about archaeology and history on the Internet", 1998-circa 2000. Based in multivocality, these web pages are built collaboratively by archaeologists, community members, and other interested people. The page content involves interpretations about the lives of Levi Jordan, his family, and the people who worked for them, first as slaves and, later, as tenant farmers and sharecroppers. This was dissertation research for Carol McDavid (MPhil Cantab, 2002). (Context: media, media research, multivocality in heritage interpretation, African Americans)

 New Philadelphia, IL
Since 2002, archaeology at this lost town, the first founded by an African American since the Civil War, has been a collaborative effort between archaeologists, the local community, and the descendants of the former residents of the town.(Context:African Americans, public partnership, national memory, integration)

 Hampden Community Archaeology Project, MD
This project is geared toward empowering Hampden residents (an urban Baltimore neighborhood) through archaeology to determine the heritage value of their neighborhood in the face of gentrification. (Context: gentrification, working-class heritage, community empowerment) Blog.   Journal article.

 The Beeswax Wreck Project (OR)
An underwater archaeology investigation, begun in 2006, involving the site of the “Beeswax Wreck” of Nehalem Bay that attempts to identify the origin of the shipwreck. Community outreach during this project is emphasized, including the use of local historians, radio shows for public outreach, an archaeology “road show”, and volunteers (Context: public outreach, local history, community participation, underwater archaeology)

 Cosmeston Community Archaeology Project (England)
Associated with the Cardiff School of History and Archaeology, this project is designed with the involvement and input of the local community in an effort to inspire pride in local heritage. Interpretation at the site incorporates living history and reconstructed structures.(Context: community archaeology, heritage, community access, living history, reconstruction)

 Prestongrange Community Archaeology Project (Scotland)
A heritage project that incorporates oral history, research, and archaeology in the investigation of a site spanning from the 16th to the 19th century, including coal industry, a mill, and glassworks industry.
(Context: community archaeology, oral history)

 Greater York Community Archaeology Project (England)
An example of outreach to those interested in community archaeology by a non-profit organization; i.e., community archaeologists guide the interested public in starting a local heritage group.(Contxt: community archaeology, youth education, people with disabilities)

 Chocolá Archaeological Project (Guatemala)
Archaeological research of this Mayan site is intrinsically linked with community development, rejecting the exportation of knowledge away from the community. (Context: South America, community development, cultural heritage, ecology)

 Haldimand Archaeological Project (Canada)
A partnership of trained archaeologists and community residents designed to explore, study, and share the archaeological heritage of Haldimand County” (Ontario) that is based on guidelines set forth in the Ontario Heritage Act. (Context: partnership, stewardship, heritage, precontact, community archaeology, heritage legislation)

 CalTrans Video, The Obsidian Trail (CA)
Documentary (27 min, available online illustrating the department’s work in “cultural resources, archaeological research and Native American coordination programs in the Inyo-Mono region of California”. This video is available on The Archaeology Channel and was widely distributed to youth educators, universities, professional organizations, and Native American groups. (Context: Native American, public outreach, partnership, media)

 The Kenai Fjords Oral History and Archaeology Project
In collaboration with Alutiiq (Alaska Native) communities and Kenai Fjords National Park, the Smithsonian Institution's Arctic Studies Center is documenting the pre- and post-contact history of Alutiiq coasal occupation and adaptations along a large and previously uninvestigated section of the southern Alaskan coast. Oral historical information is being compared and integrated with excavation results at villages sites ranging in age from A.D. 800 - 1880. Paleoenvironmental research at the sites focuses on marine ecosystem changes during the Little Ice Age. (Context: Partnering with First Nations, Smithsonian research, Paleoenvironmental research, Oral history)



 Hopi Footprints (Partnership for Public Archaeology)
Hopi Cultural Preservation Office educators, elders, tribal cultural professionals and archaeologists are working to develop school curriculum focusing on culture education, technology integration, and action research in classrooms. Partnership for Public Archaeology creates, implements, and disseminates public archaeology education programs that build an understanding of archaeological concepts, theories, and methods for preschoolers through adult learners. The Partnership is jointly administered through Northern Arizona University's Department of Anthropology and the Science and Mathematics Learning Center. (Context: Native Americans, educational outreach, mathmatics, archaeologists partnering with tribal educators and cultural professionals)

Stewardship of the James Dexter Site: The Context for Decision Making on the Excavation of an Important Archeological Site James Dexter Site at Independence National Historical Park
When the house site of James Dexter, a free black American, was found to be within the footprint of planned construction, the National Park Service’s consultations with local community groups lead to a reevaluation of the proposed treatment of the site. Note, this link is not working when I checked because the park is in transition.

Hidden Landscapes is a series that chronicles new theories about Native American monuments. It tells the story of a partnership between archeologists, Native American representatives, and avocational researchers to identify stone monuments and earthworks in eastern North America. Variously interpreted as proof of Viking exploration or remnants of colonial settlement, the standing stones, earthworks, cairns, and dry stone walls are re-interpreted as surviving elements of a sacred landscape. The merger of scientific, Native, and avocational research brings a new perspective to one of Americas most perplexing mysteries.





Content contributed mainly by Aleithea Williams,Intern, Education and Outreach,Society for American Archaeology.


Updated 05/4/11