by Jaden Edwards (OKPAN’s Archaeology Education Research Assistant)
For many years people have been fascinated by archaeology and the idea of learning about the past through material remains. Often times, people believe that one has to either pursue a professional career in archaeology, either as an archaeologist or a museum curator, in order to have a hands-on experience with the past. This is simply not true – enter public archaeology!
Public archaeology is a specialty within the broader archaeological field, in which professional archaeologists engage with a variety of audiences to work on and share archaeological knowledge with everyone. In Oklahoma, there have been several different ways for non-professionals to engage in archaeology: seeing sites maintained by the Oklahoma Historical Society, joining the Oklahoma Anthropological Society, or visiting museums such as Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and Museum of the Great Plains.
In recent years, archaeologists have tried to do even more to engage the public. The first Oklahoma Archaeology Month was held in October 2014 and included events at Oklahoma’s great museums along with public lectures and tours of archaeology labs led by professors at the University of Oklahoma. In the summer of 2015, professional archaeologists with the University of Oklahoma joined with avocational archaeologists from the Oklahoma Anthropological Society to conduct fieldwork in Colorado.
Now, in 2016, we are taking the next step! It is the inaugural year of Oklahoma Public Archaeology Network (OKPAN). OKPAN’s goal is to promote archaeology through various initiatives that will create public engagement with Oklahoma’s rich archaeological heritage. In other words, we are here to link you to cool archaeological events in our state and create our own just for you!
Our first big initiatives are the third annual Oklahoma Archaeology Month and the first Oklahoma Archaeology Conference. But if you can’t wait till then, click here to find out about upcoming events in September!