The End #worldinterview #21

I hope you all enjoyed following this global interview about archaeology. There’s a lot to talk about! Find me on @James__Dixon to discuss anything arising, or use the comment space at the bottom here.

A few acknowledgements to end.

Firstly, thank you to everyone who answered and/or asked questions. I hope you have good conversations on the back of this project.

Thank you to Anni Cook, Mark Horton, Alasdair Brooks, Nigel Hetherington, Emily Glass, Esther Breithoff, Cornelius Holtorf, Paul Montgomery, Odlanyer Hernández de Lara, Nevila Molla and Ágústa Edwald Maxwell for giving their time to help find interviewees, whether ultimately successful or not!

Thank you to Eduardo Escalante, Artur Henrique Franco Barcelos, Sally MacLennan and Arbër Kadia who stepped in at short notice to fill gaps left by others who were no longer able to take part.

Thank you to Lorna Richardson and the Day of Archaeology crew for letting me do this. It feels a bit like hijacking Day of Archaeology, but hopefully it won’t look it among the hundreds of other posts.

Thank you for reading!

James Dixon, London, UK


Mainland USA > Hawaii, USA #worldinterview #20

Mainland USA > Hawaii, USA

Interviewee: Regina Hilo

What is the United States strategy to look after and cope with a large number of archaeological sites and respond to the demands of international protocols regarding the conservation of world heritage sites?

Strategies to inventory, manage, and maintain any number of archaeological sites in the United States is largely dependent on the jurisdiction of federal and state agencies, as well as private landowners, and their resources (funding, trained personnel, equipment). These strategies vary from location to location, specifically from state to state, and are directly dependent on the agency exercising authority or having jurisdiction over land parcels.

With most, if not all, agencies struggling to secure financial resources and/or retain professional staff to develop meaningful proposals addressing an agency’s core mission, I feel that community partnerships are increasingly necessary as both a management and maintenance strategy.

Responding to the demands of international protocols in the conservation of world heritage sites is not at the forefront of our Hawaii SHPD mission, as we are constantly working towards compliance with our state’s Revised Statutes and Administrative Rules.

How does the United States build capacity for minority groups to get involved in archaeology and museums?

Advanced degree programs in museum studies are available in the United States and internationally. The University of Hawaii at Manoa has always had a traditional M.A. in Anthropology, and has added the M.A. in Applied Archaeology. The University of Hawaii at Hilo has a M.A. in Heritage Management. Both programs are two years in duration.

Building capacity for minority groups to get involved in archaeology and museum studies varies from state to state, from tribal group to tribal group, and from organization to organization. Ultimately, programs will target specific goals an organization or tribe wants to strengthen. There are competitive federal grants for Native American and Native Hawaiian non-profits. Competitive scholarships for Native American and Native Hawaiian students at all levels of post-high school education are awarded annually through professional organizations like the Society for American Archaeology. I have been very fortunate to receive two scholarships from the SAA’s which enabled me to embark on my graduate school education while also working full-time at the Hawaii SHPD. Without those scholarships, the financial burden of school would have been far too daunting for me to consider graduate school at all.

How are traditional cultural practices, such as foodways, dance, language, etc., addressed through local, state, or federal laws and regulations?

Federal laws (NAGPRA, NHPA) require consultation with Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHOs). State laws also necessitate consultation under certain conditions. The Constitution of the state of Hawaii, in article 12.7, provides the following language:

“The State reaffirms and shall protect all rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes and possessed by ahupua`a tenants who are descendants of native Hawaiians who inhabited the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778, subject to the right of the State to regulate such rights.” (

Hawaiian language revitalization and Hawaiian language immersion education has significantly increased the number of Hawaiian language speakers across the state. Though there are differences in linguistic systems and more than one ‘standard’, the Hawaii State Department of Education contributes to Hawaiian language revitalization by providing for K-12 Hawaiian language education. These kulakaiapuni “deliver instruction exclusively through the medium of Hawaiian language until grade 5, whereupon English is formally introduced.” (

Also, please see `Aha Punana Leo’s chronology of Hawaiian language usage, Hawaiian history, and events leading to the decline and eventual revitalization of Hawaiian language at their website, below:

 Hula, mele, and oli are often composed to commemorate specific events, places, or individuals. These may be considered artforms by some, but to most Native Hawaiians, hula, mele, and oli are traditional cultural practices. We compose mele to remember historical events, to protest acts of injustice to the Kingdom, to unite the masses, to honor our ali`i, and to tell stories of our deities.

With regard to human skeletal remains, Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 6E and Hawaii Administrative Rules 13-300 govern my day-to-day decisions at the SHPD. I’ve often said the statutes and rules protecting human skeletal remains in Hawaii are the strongest in the United States, perhaps even internationally. For more information, please visit our SHPD website:

To learn more about the History and Culture branch, please visit our page:

As Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations have gained more political and financial power, what changes have you seen in the practice of cultural resources management, particularly in regards to consultation?

NHOs are more familiar with NHPA Section 106 consultation, its purpose and NHOs expectations of consultation. There are also more and more Native Hawaiians with professional qualifications in traditionally western fields like archaeology, environmental engineering, landscape architecture. And, there are skilled cultural liaisons, most of whom are Native Hawaiian, serving as intermediaries between the project proponents and community. These liaisons convene and facilitate meetings on behalf of the project proponents, and present their project proponent’s updates at meetings mandated by the state.

About Regina:

Regina Keʻalapuaonālaniwikimekeānuenu e Hilo (Kamehameha Schools graduate, BA, UHM) is currently an Applied Archaeology MA student in UHM Anthropology.  Born and raised in Kapāhulu, she is a Native Hawaiian archaeologist, Hawaiian language researcher and speaker, and the current President of the Society for Hawaiian Archaeology (SHA). Regina works as a Burial Sites Specialist in the History and Culture Branch of the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) to mitigate potential effects to human skeletal remains under SHPD jurisdiction. Regina is one of two newly appointed Student Representatives for People of Color on the Society for American Archaeology’s Government Affairs Committee, an advisory board to the SAA’s Board of Directors which advises the SAA on policy positions and governmental affairs. Regina is humbled and honored to be a recipient of the 2017 Native American Graduate Scholarship in Archaeology.

She is an an avid supporter of Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) in public education, including computer programming, coding, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and wearable technology incorporating both function and fashion.

Questions from Kevin Bartoy on the US mainland.

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Mexico > mainland USA #worldinterview #19

Mexico > mainland USA

Interviewee: Kevin Bartoy

What is the United States strategy to look after and cope with a large number of archaeological sites and respond to the demands of international protocols regarding the conservation of world heritage sites?

The short answer would be I don’t think there is a strategy. The laws and regulations of the federal government in the United States only afford protection to archaeological sites if they are on federal lands or if the projects that may affect them have a federal nexus. That is, funded or permitted through a federal agency. Some states, including my own, have laws and regulations in place offering protection to archaeological sites. It is actually a misdemeanour in the State of Washington to knowingly disturb an archaeological site regardless of where it is or who is doing the disturbance. Any disturbance requires a permit through a state agency. It is a felony to knowingly disturb a burial site.

Overall, I do not think that listing as a world heritage site or international protocols have any real effect on the day-to-day work that we do. Applicable federal, state, or local law is complied with, but I have never had an instance in my 25 years as a cultural resources professional to have complied with international protocols. In the US, I believe much more effective action in regards to archaeological sites would happen at the state or local level.

It is my impression that world heritage sites and international protocols are much more things of a political or academic realm. I seldom see their effect on the actual resources that we deal with on a daily basis.

How does the United States build capacity for minority groups to get involved in archaeology and museums?

This is a difficult question for me to answer as I have not been directly involved in diversity issues within a museum or academic setting in terms of hiring and promotion. I can speak for my agency however within the State of Washington. “Inclusion” is one of three agency emphasis areas for the Washington State Department of Transportation. As an agency, we believe that we want our workforce to look like the communities that we serve. We try to do this through outreach to historically underserved and underrepresented communities, including communities of color and tribal governments. We promote and expand participation of disadvantaged business enterprises in our contracting. We also continue to expand our efforts in community engagement and environmental justice to better involve and reflect the needs of the diverse communities we serve.

What are the roles of federal and non-federal recognized tribes in federal, state, county and city projects?

This would depend on how the project was funded or permitted. If there is a federal nexus, applicable federal laws and regulations apply. Those laws require consultation with federally recognized tribes. We often will consult with non-federally recognized tribes as “consulting parties” not as tribal governments. The difficulty is that this consultation often makes the federally recognized tribes upset. It is a fine line and we point out that such consultation is not “government to government” in those cases. If there is no federal nexus, then the rules would fall to the states or local governments. Living in a relatively progressive state, we have laws and regulations in place that require us to consult with tribal governments at the state level. There is no distinction made for federally recognized tribes at the state level.

The tribes are given an opportunity to comment on projects and oftentimes the state agency who regulates cultural resources compliance is a strong advocate for the tribes. So much so that projects will not be approved unless the concerns of the tribes are addressed. This happens on state or federal projects. In the State of Washington, many of the federally recognized tribes are politically and economically powerful, so they have quite a voice and their concerns must usually be addressed for a project to move forward. I do not think that this is the case in many other places within the US however.

In Washington State, we are also unique in the treaties that were signed by tribal governments and the United States during the territorial period. These treaties included reserved rights for “usual and accustomed” fishing, hunting, and gathering places. As with many native cultures, the tribes in Washington State do not make a distinction between natural and cultural resources. However, the treaties, which are the “law of the land,” afford the tribes a much stronger legal position and much greater power in relation to natural resources, so this is often the focus of our consultation. Since the fisheries in Washington State afford a great deal of economic benefit to the tribes, natural resources often take greater consideration over cultural resources. Yet, both are critically important to the tribes and all tribes in the Salish Sea have both natural and cultural resources staff who participate in consultation.

Again, I would say in my experience, having worked in several states over the past 25 years, Washington State and its relation to the tribes is unique.

What is CRM (cultural resources management) and which laws and agencies help protect cultural resources?

Cultural Resources Management is a poorly named field that seeks compliance with a gamut of cultural, archaeological, and historical laws and regulations. It is a large industry as practiced in the United States and is part and parcel of the environmental permitting and approval process that projects must go through to move forward. The term is poor because it includes this compliance type work as well as work in museums or parks. Some work is done for industry, some for government, some for private citizens, some for non-profits. The field includes archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, biological anthropologists, historians, and architectural historians. Seldom are cultural resources “managed.” They are usually identified, classified, and then mitigated if they would be affected by a project.

There are a number of laws on the federal level, most notably the National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106). There is also the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, Section 4(f) of the United States Department of Transportation Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. There are also a number of state and local laws and regulations that vary throughout the country.Resources as disparate as traditional cultural places, archaeological sites, and historic buildings are grouped together in this legal framework.

The primary law is the National Historic Preservation Act, which, despite its name, does not “preserve” anything. The act was put in place in 1966 as a reaction against widespread development in the United States that was actively demolishing historic structures. This development was primarily related to highway construction. The act simply asks federal agencies to consider the effects of their projects on historic properties and to mitigate those effects where they are adverse. The results of the law are seldom preservation, but often result in other forms of mitigation.

The one law that does have some teeth in terms of preservation is one that you seldom hear about unless you work in transportation. Section 4(f) of the United States Department of Transportation Act requires agencies of the United States Department of Transportation to avoid 4(f) resources, which include historic properties as well as parks, trails, wildlife preserves, etc. This law will often result in preservation although it seldom does for archaeological sites, which do not have to be “preserved in place” unless their value is determined to be more than the data they contain.

About Kevin:

Environmental Program Manager, Washington State Ferries.

Washington State Ferries is the largest ferry system in the United States. As Environmental Program Manager, I ensure compliance with a multitude of laws and regulations (federal, state, and local) necessary for the design, construction, and maintenance of our facilities throughout the Salish Sea. I am a trained archaeologist and am the lead for cultural resources compliance in my current position, but also oversee compliance for natural resources, planning, sustainability, etc.

I have published several papers and articles related to the work that I do for Washington State Ferries, and previously in other positions at the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Prior to joining the Washington State Department of Transportation, I had previously worked in academia, the private sector, and a non-profit museum as an archaeologist and cultural resources professional. I have published several articles and an edited volume as part of that work.

Questions from Eduardo Escalante in Mexico.

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Cuba > Mexico #worldinterview #18

Cuba > Mexico

Interviewee: Eduardo Escalante

What is Mexico’s strategy to look after and cope with a large number of archaeological sites and respond to the demands of international protocols regarding the conservation of world heritage sites?

The responsibility for the research, protection, conservation, dissemination and management of the archaeological heritage is given by federal law to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), created in 1939. The INAH has a permanent programme for the recording and registration of archaeological sites in the country, being helped by the regional INAH offices on every state (one representation of INAH in every state). Each INAH office is responsible for the national activities of the Institute on the regional level, bearing more attention to the archaeological sites officially opened to the public. Among these sites opened to the public, World Heritage Sites are among the most visited and the ones with more attention. Since 1985 when Mexico rectified the World Heritage Convention, the responsibilities as a State Party are among the responsibilities of INAH for the conservation and management of World Heritage Sites, especially archaeological sites and historic centres.  According the Mexican legislation, every rectified convention is considered part of the federal framework policy.

It is important to notice that within INAH there is a specialized department for World Heritage. This department is the responsible for the nomination and monitoring processes. It is the representation of INAH with the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO. This department works alongside CONANP (National Commission for Protected Natural Areas), which is responsible for the Natural World Heritage sites.

How does Mexico build capacity for minority groups to get involved in archaeology and museums?

Recently, INAH has been developing Community Museums on communities with high cultural heritage values. It is important for INAH since its creation to work alongside the minority groups in order to protect cultural heritage and archaeological sites. Every research project on the countryside bears in mind the involvement of communities in order to build a community project.

What is the role of Mexican indigenous communities in the process of institutional decisions regarding tourism on archaeological heritage?

The direct participation of indigenous communities within archaeological sites in Mexico has to be with the ownership of the land. Several archaeological sites opened to the public still are on community owned land, for what indigenous communities can have a direct positive impact for the visitation working together with government policies regarding tourism. Although this aspect of the management of archaeological sites in Mexico still is a delicate issue, being more evident around World Heritage sites.

How does Mexico deal with the planning and development of cities and country areas, considering the occurrence of potential of archaeological sites?

INAH is composed by several departments, such as the Rescue Archaeology Department (commercial archaeology, savage archaeology). This department is the responsible of the follow up processes on development projects. By law, every development project has to have the INAH verification and approval for the construction. If there is archaeological evidence, is the organisation or company of the development project the one responsible for providing the necessary resources in order to execute a proper rescue archaeological project. This rescue archaeology process goes along with the permanent programme of record and registration of archaeological heritage, for what a Geographical Information Database is integrated in order to have a clear idea of the existence of archaeological evidence in the Mexican territory.

About Eduardo:

BA in Archaeology, Autonomous University of Yucatan; MA in Managing of Archaeological Sites, UCL; Head of the Technical Unit for the Management of Archaeological Sites, Sites Operation Department, National Coordination of Archaeology, National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)

Questions from Odlanyer Hernández de Lara in Cuba.

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Colombia > Cuba #worldinterview #17

Colombia > Cuba

Interviewee: Odlanyer Hernández de Lara

Historical and urban archaeology can be seen on every street in Cuba and arguably every city in the country, it can be said, for example, all Old Havana is an architectural archaeology site. What is Cuba’s strategy to look after and cope with a large number of archaeological sites and respond to the demands of international protocols regarding the conservation of world heritage sites?

There is no Cuban national strategy for Archaeology. Since authorities do not look at each historical building as an archaeological site, it seems like it is not necessary to establish protocols to monitor or prevent archaeological impacts. This is one of the difficulties of the preservation of the Cuban archaeological heritage. Cuba does not manage historical heritage like other countries (i.e. United States, Argentina) who establish a temporality (50 or 100-year-old) to consider a site or building as historical. Cuban Heritage is established by declaration; if the site has not been declared as a historical site/building, then there is no official recognition. However, all provinces have a Heritage Office, which defines historical districts, although it does not necessarily involve a protection system, they monitorarchitectural structures. But there are certain local strategies from institutions and research groups that provide some insight to cope with the archaeological sites. The cities declared as World Heritage sites have archaeological research groups with local strategies. Old Havana is the best example. The Oficina del Historiador de La Habana (Havana Historian Office) has an Archaeological Section (Gabinete de Arqueología) with several research groups to work just in Old Havana, although they run parallel projects outside Old Havana. Since all construction work done in Old Havana has to be run by the companies that belong to the same institution, and there exists an urban plan for the city’s restoration and preservation, every single building needs to be investigated by an archaeologist before development. However, this strategy focuses on the architectonical restoration, and archaeology is seen as a complement. Gabinete de Arqueología has a preventive program that also focuses on those critical archaeological sites that need priority, and some research projects follow this strategy. In some (several) restored buildings, the archaeological investigations led to important features or evidence exhibited as part of the new uses of the spaces, many times related to the historical use of the building.

A similar, but not similarly supported strategy exists in cities like Camaguey, Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus, Holguin, and Cienfuegos. Research groups and institutions work together to provide a better understanding of our past. However, these politics work only for World Heritage sites, with a few exceptions. A very different perspective is used in other cities, where the possibilities are not the same, with scarce to no resources to protect the archaeological heritage. Even worse, some places have no inventory of what they have, which makes it even more complicated to protect it. Even when there are two laws to protect heritage in general, the implementation is not as we expect, many times because of the lack of resources to do it. A new law is in the works that will address and try to resolve some of these problems.

However, maybe one of the biggest problems we have regarding these issues is the lack of educational formation. Since there are no specific university programs for archaeology or anthropology, the results are evident in practice. Some researchers have had the opportunity to do postgraduate studies outside Cuba, but this is not enough because the learning process is not continuous, and the new generations have no orientation, incentive or interest. This view may seem pessimistic, but there are a few people trying to change the actual situation with local strategies, and trying to extend positive results to other cities, reinforced through courses, coursework, and teamwork. Some results have been accomplished, but there is still much work to do.

What are the main challenges of archaeological practice in Cuba today and which ones, considering the unique political and cultural history of the Cuban Revolution?

The main challenges of archaeology in Cuba for the next decades can be separated in, at least, three points: 1) university career development, 2) theoretical diversification, and 3) dealing with the preservation of the archaeological heritage.

Probably the main challenge of Cuban archaeology is the lack of a university education and career development, aforementioned. Even when Science, in general, received a strong support after the Cuban Revolution with the creation of several institutions and economic support to run research projects and publications, it was not possible to generate a university program in archaeology or anthropology. The consequences can be seen in the results and contributions of archaeological research, suggesting is not a priority to the society. Archaeological institutions do not play a significant role on the political agenda.

Moreover, the lack of a university education and specialization has a significant impact on the theoretical background. Since the Cuban government decided in 1961 to follow a Marxist approach, there is no discussion about the theoretical background in archaeology. Even worst, that provided the basis to a general ignorance of what was happening in the rest of the World, or sometimes full rejection because it came from a Capitalist country or model. Without discussion, Cuban archaeology was attached to an orthodox Marxism, but in practice, archaeology was more similar to a Culture-Historical approach, following the 1950’s influence. In the last years, some lights are changing the panorama, but there are still some proposals for a unique theoretical vision. That is why an opening for a diverse theoretical agenda is needed. Gradually, although it is not explicit, some changes have taken place.

Interconnected are the new changes in the political scenario, where potential construction developments can worsen the current status of archaeological heritage. Today, the main archeological institutions do not have enough support to provide an effective protection of the known archaeological heritage. Since there are no strategies to involve archaeologists in environmental impact studies, the archaeological heritage is in a critical status. Several archaeological sites have been impacted by development related with the tourism industry, sometimes irreversibly. If we do not prepare for a potentially worse scenario, the impact will be devastating. Nevertheless, even when this situation changes, we will return to the first problem: there are not enough archaeologist to cope with the actual development in the tourism industry, so what can we do if the situation changes with a potentially bigger investment in infrastructure? That’s where the university career gets in action, not just creating more professional archaeologist, but establishing a professional status for archaeology with a strong theoretical background that provides the needed tools to deal with the new scenarios. In 2010, 65 archaeologists were on the National List of Professional Archaeologist. This year the List had a decrease to 59 archaeologists. Since several of those archaeologists do not run archaeological projects, the situation worsens.

Does the public have a different appreciation of the importance pre-Columbian and colonial archaeological sites?

This question has different answers, mostly depending on the locations. Some areas, like Holguin province, has a strong pre-Columbian sense of awareness, with a general society identification with the pre-Columbian heritage. There, the colonial archaeological sites are not as recognized as the pre-Columbian sites. However, Old Havana can be seen as the opposite, where colonial heritage presence is so strong, and archaeological investigations are a focus on that heritage. However, I could risk the generalization that pre-Columbian archaeological heritage is more recognizable than colonial archaeological heritage, but this should be proven statistically, with a representative sample, that presently does not exist. For example, on museum collection, curators inventory pre-Columbian archaeological evidence within the archaeological collection, whereas, historical archaeological evidence is housed within historical collections, along with documents and other objects. It can be said that there is a predominant lack of interest for more ephemeral, local archaeological sites, with interest focused only on monumental and sensational sites discovered elsewhere. That is a view that can be found in the newspapers, with more presence of outside archaeological events than local news. Almost ten years ago, a project began to revoke and alleviate this situation, and positively promote Cuban and Caribbean archaeology. The Website Cuba Arqueológica ( has changed the way Cuban archaeology was and is seen, providing free access to inaccessible publications, and current developments in all field of archaeology in Cuba and the rest of the Caribbean.

How does Cuba build capacity for minority groups to get involved in archaeology and museums?

There are several strategies to involve society, in general, both in archaeology and museum research-preservation. I do not refer to minority groups because Cuba does not have an established policy to discriminate social groups, and that does not happen in practice. As I mentioned before, the strategies come from research groups and institutions in a local perspective. Cuba has at least one museum per municipios (county or municipalities), and every museum develops several activities that involve schools, inviting them to participate in activities or creating activities for them. Also, the museum goes to the schools to talk about different topics related to the museum collections, local histories, and beyond. Those activities are also open to the public, especially for neighbors. One strategy is what is called Círculos de Interés (Interests Groups), that provide specific areas of knowledge to students, led by professionals. That is not just for Museums, but for different institutions. Archaeology has been one of these interest groups. Those Interest groups are proposed to the school, for an appropriate age range, and the students are invited to participate. Those interested, join a team that starts working on practical classes, site visits, etc. Interest Groups also work as a future career motivation, where students know what is done in a specific profession. Some institutions also open their doors for school visits, to learn the professions from the professionals. Of course, there are also summer courses, and summer activities like Rutas y Andares (Routes and Walks), offered by the Havana Historian Office: a tour lead by a professional to discover sites with exhibits or where they have worked. Those tours have been a real success, where people get involved with their local heritage. Archaeology is part of those tours, with an archaeologist guiding visits to archaeological sites, sometimes with work in progress, archaeological exhibits in restored historical buildings, and several histories resulting from the archaeological investigations. Those tours have been done in other cities, with a similar success.

About Odlanyer:

I’m creator and Editor for bothCuba ArqueológicaJournaland Web Site (, which is a long term project to diffuse the archaeological knowledge from Cuba and the Caribbean.I’m currently working in South Florida archaeology, with a CRM company, and at the same time, running some projects in Cuba. One of my projects is related with the Spanish-Cuban-American War (1898), in the scenario of the first battle. A second project is related with the colonial fortress Castillo de San Severino, including archaeological excavations, but also working to get better the museum exhibits and engaging the community in the cultural heritage preservation (,

Questions from Jimena Lobo Guerrero Arenas in Colombia.

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Canada > Colombia #worldinterview #16

Canada > Colombia

Interviewee: Jimena Lobo Guerrero Arenas

Has the designation of UNESCO World Heritage sites affected the recent development of Colombian archaeology?

This designation has served to make archaeological sites visible, to give them an official status and in the majority of cases, it has had a positive impact on them. In Colombia, two archaeological sites have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites: San Agustín and Tierradentro. They also hold the category of archaeological parks and are under the protection and administration of the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History, ICANH. Thanks to Unesco’s designation they have received more attention from the state, which has meant a greater number of public funds for protection, outreach and research programs. In addition, there are specific archaeological management plans for each of these sites, that is, norms and regulations of what can be done and in what way.

On the other hand, many archaeological sites lie under urban centers that have also been declared Unesco World Heritage sites. Unfortunately, they have not received the attention and treatment they deserve. The historic center of Cartagena de Indias, for example, is itself an archaeological site. In this city, projects on conservation and restoration of building heritage have largely ignored the importance of the archaeological work.

Does the public have a different appreciation of the importance of pre-Colombian and colonial era archaeological sites?

To some extent archaeology in Colombia is synonymus with pre-Columbian while colonial archaeological sites are not clearly recognized. Archaeology in Colombia has traditionally concentrated its efforts on pre-Columbian sites, therefore, the importance given to historical archaeological sites is little when compared to pre-Columbian. On the other hand, legislation is stronger when it comes to pre-Columbian findings. Colonial era archaeological sites are under recognized, even if they fall within UNESCO World Heritage sites.

How do archaeologists work with indigenous and minority groups/communities when examining sensitive sites/material culture?

Human groups (whether indigenous or minority groups/communities) that inhabit archaeological sites or their areas of influence often tend to participate in archaeological projects as volunteers.In many cases, locals assist and engage in the excavation phase.According to legislation, archaeologists have to include as part of their research project a heritage management plan. Such plan must include an outreach program involving the participation of the local community. Archaeologists must raise awareness and provide information to the local community about the archaeological site, its importance, and how to protect it. Sometimes archaeologists offer training sessions to locals on issues related to protection of archaeological sites.

How does Colombia build capacity for minority groups to get involved in archaeology and museums?

Little efforts are being made on this regard. As mentioned in the previous response, archaeologists usually get locals to participate in archaeological projects. But, there is a lack of institutional programs to build capacity for minority groups to get involved in archaeology and museums. However, there are initiatives such as the Ministry of Culture, which, through the Directorate of Heritage, created the Cultural Heritage Watchers Program as a voluntary participation strategy seeking to integrate the communities interested in Cultural Heritage. Cultural Heritage Watchers are sometimes involved in archaeological projects and look after archaeological sites.

In addition, there are isolated cases of minority groups doing archaeology. I refer to the case of the Guambiano indigenous group, south of Colombia. A couple of decades ago, this group decided to do archaeology and use the results as useful tools for recognition and vindication of their identity and the territory they inhabit. Efforts are isolated but they do exist. I think there is a clear consciousness in archaeologists to make communities aware of the importance of archaeological sites but at the same time, there is a scarce or null governmental purpose of redirecting efforts towards this end.

About Jimena:

I am a Historical Archaeologist. My research interests focus on the study of material culture from late pre-Columbian and early colonial periods, particularly in Colombia (South America). I draw on theories from material culture studies and the archaeology of colonialism to explore, analyze and interpret the interaction amongst indigenous people, Africans and Europeansand the multiple cultural responses to contact encounters expressed through material culture. I have a particular interest in metals. I have experience working in Museums and enjoy exploring the different ways people can engage in the interpretation and preservation of cultural heritage. Currently, I’m working on an archaeological project, which aims at examining an exceptional collection of artifactual and biological data recently recovered in the Jesuit church of San Ignacio, a jewel of Spanish colonial art set in the historical district of Bogotá, Colombia. I received my PhD in Archaeology and Anthropology from University of Bristol (UK). I hold a MA in History from University of Los Andes (Colombia) and a BA in Anthropology and a BA in History from the same university.

Questions from William Moss in Canada.

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Bermuda > Canada #worldinterview #15

Bermuda > Canada

Interviewee: William Moss

What is the biggest problem facing archaeology in Canada?

Canada is a federated country, similar to Australia. It is thus difficult to give a “Canadian” reply to each of the following questions as the situation varies from one province or territory to the next. There is no federal legislation specifically addressing archaeological questions though the Canadian Environmental Protection Act does include heritage resources in environmental impact assessments coming under its jurisdiction and Parks Canada has developed national guidelines. Canada has no equivalent of the European Charter for the Protection and Management of the Archaeological Heritage (commonly called the Valetta Convention) or the National Historic Preservation Act in the USA. Each province or territory has its own legislation, thus giving a diversity of approaches with varying levels of control, which, on a general level, I would consider as the biggest problem facing archaeology in Canada. On a more personal note, I would consider the lack of formal recognition for archaeologists – similar to that of England’s Chartered Institute for Archaeologists – as an important handicap for professional practice. This, however, is far from being unique to Canada.

What role do archaeologists play in holding those in power accountable?

This is a difficult question. “Those in power” is a very large and loose term! It can refer to political power, economic power, or even cultural hegemony though these are oft-times intertwined. It can also address relations at any scale of social organization from the neighbourhood to the nation. Finally, one has to ask: “Accountable to whom and for what”? Given these caveats, I would like to examine one example, that of the management of archaeological collections by one of the country’s few national bodies that has a heritage remit and that manages territory – and consequently archaeological sites –, Parks Canada Agency. Following the growth of Parks Canada’s network of historic sites and parks in the 1970s and 1980s, a series of regional collections repositories was created to support operations in regional facilities in the Maritime provinces, in Québec, in Ontario, in the West and in Ottawa for central operations such as the underwater archaeology program. Cuts to the Agencies budgets in 2012 forced the immediate closure of some regional facilities and planned on the centralization of all collections in a single repository in the National Capital Region. There was considerable resistance to this, particularly in Québec, from the archaeological community and citizens’ groups ( Opposition to this project was renewed following the election of a new government in 2015. Archaeologists and First Nations in the Maritime provinces have been particularly alarmed at the impending closure of the state-of-the art collections repositories and laboratories and the subsequent removal of artefacts nearly 1500 km away ( The provincial legislature in Québec, the Assemblée nationale, voted an extremely rare unanimous motion in February of 2017 ( Actions by concerned archaeologists at the grass roots level have shown that collections, research and heritage are first and foremost community assets before being considered as national treasures. The final outcome of this situation is yet to be known…

How do archaeologists work with indigenous and minority groups/communities when examining sensitive sites/material culture?

Once again, the differences in provincial legislation lead to differing actions and responses. The only pan-Canadian reply to this lies with the Canadian Archaeological Association’s “Statement of Principles for Ethical Conduct Pertaining to Aboriginal Peoples” ( Each province or territory has its own approach. For example, in Ontario, individual archaeologists have a legal obligation to consult and involve Indigenous groups having a cultural affiliation with a site under investigation and guidelines have been prepared for consulting archaeologists ( In neighbouring Québec, the provincial government determines where and when consultation of Indigenous groups is required and does so on the basis of nation to nation discussions. Some institutions are very proactive. Sustainable Archaeology, at Ontario’s Western University and McMaster University, has an advisory committee comprised of practicing archaeologists and Indigenous representatives who take under advisement all requests for the consultation of collections held in this state-of-the-art repository and research centre. Many First Nations have created their own archaeological programs. In Quebec, the Avataq Cultural Institute – the Inuit cultural organization of Nunavik in Northern Quebec ( and the Cree Cultural Institute, or Aanischaaukamikw ( – are good examples among many more. Some governments are adopting programs to deal with repatriation issues. British Columbia recently allocated two million dollars to the Royal B.C. Museum to develop a repatriation program with First Nation partners, helping to bring back items that were taken without permission, confiscated from potlatch ceremonies or stolen from graves, as early archaeological programmes sometimes did (

How does Canada build capacity for minority groups to get involved in archaeology and museums?

The archaeological community is well aware of this need. The CAA created the “Weetaluktuk Student Prize”in 1983 in honour of an early Inuit archaeologist ( The Canadian Museum of History has administered since 1993“The RBC Aboriginal Training Program in Museum Practices” which offers professional and technical training for First Nations, Métis and Inuit participants. It is the only program of its kind in Canada and its goal is to develop ways for Aboriginal Nations across Canada to represent their own history and culture in concert with cultural institutions. ( First Nations’ archaeologists, such as Carrie Dan, are cited as role models by British Columbia’s First Nations Education Steering Committee for her exemplary career as field archaeologist and museum curator ( A resounding example of First Nations capacity is the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network award-winning series “Wild Archaeology”, co-hosted by Rudy Reimer of Simon Fraser University and Skwxwu7mesh Uxwumixw, Jenifer Brousseau and Jacob Pratt (

About William:

I have been Chief Archæologist for the City of Québec since 1985. Before that, I worked in England and, in Québec, for Parks Canada and the provincial Culture and Communications Department. A sessional lecturer at Laval University and a regularly-invited lecturer in Québec and abroad, I am active in several learned societies, such as the Society of Antiquaries of London, ICOMOS’s International Committee on Archæological Heritage Management or the Society for American Archæology’s Committee on International Government Affairs. The Society for Historical Archæology presented me the Carol V. Ruppé Distinguished Service Award in 2016. Locally, I have received awards from the tourist industry for organizing international scientific conferences. Laval University awarded mean honorary Ph.D. in 2014 for my contribution to the knowledge of, the protection and the development of Québec City’s archæological heritage.

Questions from Deborah Anne Atwood in Bermuda.

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Brazil > Bermuda #worldinterview #14

Brazil > Bermuda

Interviewee: Deborah Anne Atwood

In what ways is Bermudian archaeology global?

Whether as a navigational marker for early colonial European explorers or as a garrisoned island for the British, American, and Canadian forces Bermuda has played an important role in the history and development of the Atlantic World. Consequently Bermudians share cultural and historical links with North America, the Caribbean, England, Africa, and Europe and archaeological material found in Bermuda provides information on local and international history.

What is the biggest problem facing archaeology in Bermuda?

Currently there is little legislation on the island protecting land sites and although there is very strict legislation protecting underwater sites it can be very difficult to monitor and protect these sites. There are only a handful of local archaeologists working in Bermuda, so much of the research projects are carried out by archaeologists from overseas through partnerships with local institutions.

What role do archaeologists play in holding those in power accountable?

Very little. We can advise those in power about best practices, archaeological ethics and the best way to protect and record sites and promote scientific investigation.

In what way do you see archaeology changing as the 21st century progresses?

Technological advances have changed the way in which we record sites, especially underwater sites. With over 300 shipwrecks in Bermuda’s waters and only a handful of archaeologists on the island it would take years to accurately record every wreck. However, the development of affordable recording equipment like GoPro cameras and 3D model technology means that we can enlist the local dive community to assist us with mapping and surveying of sites. The possibility to perhaps use 3D printing technology to take models of wrecks and replica artifacts into local classrooms is also very exciting and could enable us to better teach the importance of preserving and protecting our cultural heritage.

About Deborah:

Assistant Curator, National Museum of Bermuda.

Questions from James Dixon in the UK.

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Iceland > Brazil #worldinterview #13

Iceland > Brazil

Interviewee: Artur Henrique Franco Barcelos

Do you think academic departments need to demonstrate ‘relevance’ to public audiences – if so what are the challenges?

Yes, certainly. The main challenge is to break with the academic conception of knowledge and to create strategies of dialogues with the external public.. But this will only be possible if academic archaeologists understand the importance of the debates proposed by Public Archaeology.

How do you see digital technology contributing to the interpretation and research agendas for archaeologists and anthropologists in the future?

I believe that digital tools, however advanced, continue to play the same role as drawings and photographs do in the archaeological works of the nineteenth century. Its use can never replace solid theoretical training and a capacity for reflection on the data facilitated by technology.

What role to archaeologists play in holding those in power accountable?

This depends on what power we are talking about. If it is political power, this varies from country to country, according to the local laws on the archaeological heritage, its research and its preservation. In this case, archaeologists must know the law and organize ways to participate directly or indirectly in political bodies. If we are talking about power in a generic way, it is up to archaeologists to recognize the forms and practices of power with which they are dealing, especially when dealing with fragile communities in relation to political and economic power.

In what way do you see archaeology changing as the 21st century progresses?

I believe there are two possible paths to archaeology in the face of significant changes in terms of rights and social struggles in the 21st century. And also in terms of the very issues surrounding science. On the one hand, archaeology can remain closed in its idea that it is the science that studies the past through material culture, preferably ancient. And so she will be exempt from engaging in controversial issues. On the other hand, the archaeology may see material culture as a way of understanding certain aspects of the human being, both past and present. This will lead to an epistemological revolution and will allow archaeology to escape the old concepts. In the same way, it will make archaeologists necessarily involved in the issues of their time, leaving the grid to fight the struggles of the present.

About Artur:

Associate Professor of the Bachelor of Archaeology of the Federal University of Rio Grande FURG, Brazil.

Artur wrote Espaço e Arqueologia nas Missões Jesuíticas: o caso de São João Batista (2000) and O Mergulho no Seculum: exploração, conquista e organização espacial jesuítica na América Espanhola Colonial (2013). He is also the author of many papers and book chapters on these topics. His main research interest is in Latin American History, with an emphasis on the history of the Rio de la Plata region. His other research interests include evangelization in colonial Latin America, Jesuit missions, geohistory, cartography, space, patrimony, historical archaeology, and material culture. Artur is the head of the H.E.C.A.T.E.U’s Lab (American History and Cartography: Space, Territory, and Urbanism), where he leads several projects related to Jesuit cartography.

He is also the manager of the website

Questions from Gísli Pálsson in Iceland.

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UK > Iceland #worldinterview #12

UK > Iceland

Interviewee: Gísli Pálsson

What drew you to archaeology and what path did you follow in your archaeological career?

I came to archaeology rather late. After spending years working for a civil engineering firm on construction projects, I was gripped with an irresistible urge to tear things down. I still bear the signs of those early years, as I’ve found myself specializing in fairly technological and computational ways – GIS, survey, archaeoinformatics.

What difficulties do you think students face in pursuing a career in archaeology?

One of the most significant decision is whether to choose a well-established (but probably densely populated) subfield, which may lead to more job security in the long run if they get their foot in a door somewhere, or to go for an emerging subfield (or a non-existent subfield), which will probably give them the ability to impact the discipline more radically, while being a risky proposition job-wise, particularly in academia.

Do you think academic departments need to demonstrate ‘relevance’ to public audiences – if so what are the challenges?

I think the core practices of archaeology are very relevant to public audiences, but I also think archaeology has much more to offer beyond those practices. In my experience, the public are very open to creative archaeologies and more experimental applications of archaeological practices, but the issue is that getting funding for such practices seems much more difficult than getting funding for projects in line with how archaeology ought to be practiced. So the challenge, to me, lies in convincing those with the fingers on the purse strings that archaeology needs more leeway for experimentation, but that is not going to happen when most of the people in our discipline are perpetually suspended on a budgetary knife’s edge.

How do you see digital technology contributing to the interpretation and research agendas for archaeologists and anthropologists in the future?

Digital technology has contributed to archaeological interpretation for as long as digital technology has been around in the humanities. As far as I’m concerned, archaeology has always been at the forefront of adopting digital technologies in the context of the humanities and historical disciplines, and it will continue to do so.

About Gísli:

Archaeologist, into landscape, data, networks, creative sides to the profession, as well as some other things.

last paper:

Questions from Raksha Dave in the UK.

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