Georgia Public Archaeology Network?

Kris Rice, student blogger, makes the argument for a Georgia Public Archaeology Network, comparable to Florida’s excellent program.

Georgia Public Archaeology Network?

For nearly 14 years, Georgia’s neighbor to the south has maintained an active public archaeology network that our state would do well to emulate.  Its use of volunteers in the protection of historic resources is particularly innovative.

stele

Crystal River, FL, Archaeological State Park: A stele at one of the many historic and cultural sites around Florida where volunteers actively participate in archaeological monitoring, preservation and public outreach. A stele is a stone or wooden monument, typically used for burial or boundary marking.

In 2004, under Republican Governor Jeb Bush, the Florida legislature approved legislation enabling the creation of the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN).  The following year, the legislature granted funding for ongoing operations of the network, which continue as a University of West Florida program based in Pensacola.  Eight regional centers operate out of four universities around the state.  FPAN is careful to avoid duplicating existing programs, does not conduct archaeological research or manage heritage sites, and works closely with community partners throughout the state.

The network’s goals are to educate and engage the public in archaeology, to serve as a professional resource for local governments, and to assist the Florida Division of Historical Resources.  It is the first goal that may be of particular interest to archaeology buffs in Georgia, who should encourage our legislature to institute a similar program.

temple mnd

View of Crystal River from the observation deck of the 30’ tall Temple Mound, the largest in the park.

Although each of the regional centers offers a wide variety of local volunteer opportunities and trainings, the state network also sponsors the popular statewide Heritage Monitoring Scouts program.  Interested volunteers assist in monitoring and documenting the effects of climate change and sea level rise on archaeological, historical, and cultural sites and help to provide public education and outreach.

FPAN also offers Cemetery Resource Protection Training, to teach volunteers how to preserve and protect historic grave markers, and conducts in-service education for public and private school teachers around the state.  In addition, the network offers training for recreational divers and dive instructors on identifying, monitoring, and protecting shipwrecks and other submerged cultural resources.

burial mound

One of two platform mounds at Crystal River, believed to have been used for ceremonial purposes. The site of the park was among the longest continuously inhabited in the state; human occupation dates back more than two millennia.

If you agree that Georgia to involve volunteers in the protection of our fragile and endangered cultural past, please contact your state legislators to ask for their support of a statewide archaeological network here.

Following is contact information for the Chatham County delegation; for other counties, consult www.legis.ga.gov.

For more information on FPAN, visit the network’s website at: www.flpublicarchaeology.org.

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