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Community archaeology … in the lab

April 22, 2014

One fundamental component of our research at Nunalleq is community engagement. The project is an actual partnership with local communities; a collaboration, which creates opportunities to investigate the regional prehistory and to co-develop tools to enable local communities to preserve, learn from and (re)appropriate their own archaeological heritage in the longer-term. Numerous initiatives are ongoing or being planned, though the most visible tend to be those taking place during fieldwork (as you can see when reading last summer’s posts), but much does go on during the winter too. For instance, the Nunalleq exhibition held here in Aberdeen in the spring and summer of 2013 kept us busy throughout the winter months. There is another side to this process that is also important: bringing this rich cultural heritage to new places and audiences (for example, here in the UK) as well as raising awareness on pressing issues affecting people in the Arctic, including extreme coastal erosion and the effects of climate change. The artefact collections themselves are very powerful in making these cultures present outside Alaska, and last year’s exhibition was a great success.

Lab work allows other ways of engaging with archaeology. Handling and recording the artefacts can be so much more exciting than just seeing them because it involves us directly in the process of thinking through what we need to do and know in order to understand them. This is why we have opened the lab not only to our undergraduate students, but also to others who wanted to learn more about post-excavation and archaeology in general. The response has been so positive in so many ways, including a new interest in Alaska! You can hear it from our volunteers. Here is Lucia.

 

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Ana

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