Community Engagement in Archaeology

As an undergraduate student enrolled in courses at Fresno City College and later California State University, Fresno, I participated in many course-sponsored archeological projects that ranged from pedestrian survey to hands-on excavation. I loved all of it which is why I took majors that included archaeology, and I thought that someday I would have a career as a professional archaeologist. Life has a way of throwing obstacles in our path and my aspirations did not materialize, but not before I had a chance to experience a memorable participatory community archaeology project in Cimarron, New Mexico.

Along with my wife Ana María, I enrolled in an intensive archaeological program that took place on Philmont Scout Ranch (also known as Rancho Rayado) located on the Santa Fe Trail, which houses the Kit Carson Museum. This was a fascinating site that contained both historical and pre-historic strata and the goal was both recovery and restoration. The owners wanted to restore the existing home, blacksmith area, extensive kitchen and other buildings to their former glory to quality for registry with New Mexico as a National Register of Historic Places. We labored for three weeks, working eight-hour shifts Monday through Friday with the weekends off to explore the nearby town of Cimarron. In the process, I established a good relationship with the project supervisor, Dr. David T. Kirkpatrick of Human Systems Research, Inc.,whose archaeological consulting company had been hired to perform the site archaeology and subsequent evaluations that would allow the site owners to meet registry requirements with New Mexico. It was this experience that cemented my determination to attend graduate school in New Mexico and pursue studies in the archaeology of the American Southwest.

Salvage archaeology is a division within Applied Archaeology/Anthropology and offers opportunities for the public to engage in ongoing archaeological excavations throughout the world. Satisfaction comes on several levels, from learning the challenges of site excavation and recovery of valuable artifacts, to participating directly in archaeological salvage projects that increase humanitys understanding of the past. A recent news item, Archaeology for the People, By the People, posted to the Biblical Archeology Society website talks about several of the participatory projects in Israel open to volunteers throughout the world. It’s worth a look if you feel a kinship with archaeology and, perhaps, want to take the leap and plunge into the exciting world of public archaeology!

Dr. Anderson

About Douglas J. Anderson

I'm Douglas J. Anderson, Ph.D., a multifaceted educator with two decades of experience. Holding a Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Foundation, an M.A. in Anthropology and Southwestern Archaeology, and a comprehensive Oxford TESOL/TESL/TEFL certificate, I weave together diverse disciplines in my approach to teaching. My academic journey began at Fresno City College, where I honed my archaeological skills, which extended to on-field experience in Californian and New Mexican prehistoric cultures. This practical knowledge, enriched by my master's research on Narbona Pass chert in the Navajo Nation, informs my teaching. Deeply influenced by Dr. Albert Schweitzer's "Reverence for Life" ethic, I aspire to guide minds of all ages, instilling respect for all life forms in my teaching and community activism. My commitment to teaching excellence has earned me several professional awards, including a Master Teacher Award (2015-2016) and Teaching Excellence Awards in Philosophy (2013-2014), and Anthropology (2012-2013) from Front Range Community College in Colorado. I am an essential Subject Matter Expert in Cultural Anthropology for the College of Professional Studies, University of New England. I have expanded my influence beyond traditional academia, contributing as a Peace Corps Virtual Service Volunteer to the Philippine Science High School STEM curriculum. With my wife, Ana María, I devoted nearly three years with the Peace Corps to UNESCO's TiNi children's education program in Ecuador. Today, I share anthropological and related disciplinary insights via my blog and offer academic coaching through Apprentus.
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