Public Archaeology

Bibliographic Information

Course Title

Public Archaeology


Pamela Cressey

Institution Where Taught

The George Washington University

Semester or Date Taught

Spring 2010

Web Address (URL)

Additional Information

Course Number

ANTH 287/6807

Course Level

Course Description

This course in public archaeology explores the ethics and issues of the profession in terms of responsibilities and accountability to different publics at various scales. Students look at their thoughts and beliefs of material culture to become aware of their voices; thus, becoming more open to encourage multiple voices in the creation and recreation of the past. A central theme of the class is the examination of how the past is told, absorbed and experienced by people. We will ask: What is the value of the past? What are the uses of the past? Who creates the stories and myths of the past? What are the responsibilities of the storytellers of history? Different aspects of public archaeology are addressed: ethics, goals and standards; preservation law and process; management of sites, resources and collections; interpretation and presentation methods; relationships, partnerships and interactions with different publics; and promotion. Applicability of various presentation tools to different audiences is examined. A central goal of the course is for each student to develop a varied interpretive process for one historic site: Alexandria Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery or Fort Ward Historic Site and Park

Syllabus Available



PDF version of syllabus available on GWU's Anthropology Department website.

Additional tags: public archaeology; practical learning; multivocality; community archaeology; cultural resource management


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