A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
From the President: The AIA and You
Volume 62 Number 3, May/June 2009
Values of Membership
In 1879, North America's first artificial ice rink opened in New York City and The Pirates of Penzance debuted in England. The same year, Harvard professor Charles Eliot Norton founded the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). Now, on the 130th anniversary of that event, I would like to personally welcome all ARCHAEOLOGY subscribers to membership in the AIA. Why? Because I am sure you will agree that the need to protect our cultural heritage for future generations is one of the most urgent tasks we face. To make that happen, we need your help.
The AIA's mission in its early years included exploration and the training of young archaeologists. Expeditions were mounted to the classical ruins of Assos, Turkey (1881), and Cyrene, Libya (1910), and the Institute dispatched Adolph Bandelier to research Pueblo ruins in New Mexico (1880). Even then, looting and development imperiled ancient sites, and the AIA was instrumental in creating the American Antiquities Act of 1906, aimed at protecting and preserving archaeological sites on federal lands, especially in the American Southwest.
Today, the AIA has far surpassed anything Norton could have envisioned. Through ARCHAEOLOGY and the Institute's annual meeting, lecture program, and 107 local societies, the AIA reaches more people than ever before. Its archaeology fairs and lesson plans bring the excitement of learning about the past to families and into the classroom. An innovative AIA program helps educate troops being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan about the cultural heritage of these war-torn countries and the protection of sites against looters. The AIA's site preservation program funds critical work at the Temple of Athena at Assos, where the AIA first excavated, and on Easter Island, where the monolithic statues are in dire need of conservation. Finally, the AIA continues its advocacy mission, helping persuade the U.S. Senate to ratify the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and endorsing the UNESCO Convention on Underwater Cultural Heritage to save historic and ancient shipwrecks from the depredations of treasure hunters.
When the Taliban were driven from Kabul, a sign in English and Dari was hung above the entrance to the archaeological museum that read: "A nation stays alive when its culture stays alive." Your support of the AIA and its programs plays a major role in keeping so many cultures--and nations--alive.
C. Brian Rose is the president of the Archaeological Institute of America.