Archaeologists will often find themselves working with or in a culture that is unfamiliar to them. Having good ethical standards and knowledge of local and international laws help archaeologist respect and work with all kinds of communities. Working with the public and reporting archaeological finds not only help archaeologists and anthropologist understand a particular society, but by including the community with the project researchers can gain an understanding of many aspects of the community’s culture including; religious materials, structures, symbols, language, rituals, and so forth. Understanding the local culture can also help archaeologist from misunderstandings with the community that could result in a failed project.
A community’s history belongs with its citizens to be shared and preserved for future generations. At HCPC we have come across many religious materials and other grave offerings including children’s toys, vases and potted plants. Most items have remained at the grave they were placed at while others unfortunately have ended up in the pile of debris that will be thrown away. The loss of some of these items was likely due to the cemetery having been abandoned for decades. The items lost can now never be recovered and placed at their proper grave. To some these grave offerings may not appear to be anything more than an old toy or candle, but we have to remember these items are also part of this community’s history. Now with the work we are doing hopefully we can preserve the cemetery more effectively and learn the histories of the people buried there to be able to share with the community.
Hopefully by engaging the community with this project it will help the public have a better understanding of archaeology and what kind of pertinent information it can provide.