A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Our mission to teach archaeology
In the third grade, we were given a monthly magazine called Treasure Chest that featured a series entitled "Archaeology: The Greatest Detective Story." These articles took us from Troy to Nineveh to Machu Picchu, and kindled in me a fascination for archaeology that only increased with time. Today, I am convinced of the importance of teaching archaeology, especially at the primary and secondary school levels. These students are the next generation of archaeologists; they will solve the puzzles that continue to mystify us, and we owe it to them to develop innovative programs that capture their interest at an early age.
At the Archaeological Institute of America, we have made this kind of outreach a cornerstone of our mission. We have inaugurated fairs at which children and families learn about archaeology and the ancient world by taking part in hands-on exhibits; they reconstruct clay pots, participate in mini-digs, and meet archaeologists. We have also held workshops to help primary and secondary school educators teach critical thinking and create projects based on archaeological evidence. During the course of the spring, a series of lesson plans will be added to the AIA website, including Shoe Box Digs--tabletop simulated excavations--for a variety of classroom levels, and a Rosetta Stone project that introduces students to hieroglyphic and cuneiform writing and explains how ancient texts survive and are translated. See www.archaeological.org/education for more about these exciting initiatives.
This isn't our only area of new outreach programs. Many sites and museums in Iraq and Afghanistan are now guarded by U.S. soldiers who may not have studied archaeology, but who now need a basic knowledge of the region's ancient history. With the cooperation of the U.S. Central Command, we recently began a cultural heritage lecture program at military bases from which troops serving in those countries are deployed. Regardless of one's opinions about the conflicts, these men and women often risk their lives to protect ancient monuments. Considering the world in which we now live, interaction between archaeologists and the military should be a fundamental component of our mission. (See "Tell It to the Marines," November/December 2005.)
Your subscription to ARCHAEOLOGY supports these outreach efforts, and I invite you to join the AIA if you haven't already done so. It would be an honor to have you on our team.
C. Brian Rose is the president of the Archaeological Institute of America.