Part 5: Unlock the Past for the Future: From the Past in the Present to the Future
Archaeologists have a hard enough time “predicting” the past, let alone trying to predict the future. Nevertheless, we’ve asked four North American archaeologists early in their careers to imagine what the future of historical archaeology might look like. Or at least to share with us what it is that has compelled them to a life in archaeology.
Archaeology is about the present in other ways too. The people that we study from the past have descendants today. In the case of African Americans and Native Americans, among others, archaeologists in the past did not acknowledge the rights and responsibilities of these descendant communities to participate in determining the fate of their ancestors and writing the histories of their lives.
These archaeologists write of archaeology’s future with a surprisingly unified voice, in light of the diversity that characterizes the field today. Protect and preserve archaeological sites. Conserve archaeological objects. Hear everyone’s voices, and see everyone’s lives, in the material record they left behind. Include, don’t exclude. Work locally, and compare localities around the globe to understand the diversity as well as the commonalities of the human experience.