University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


To understand how the public views archaeology and uncover the sources of their perceptions, this paper summarizes the interviews of 58 Fayetteville area high school and college students from the Fall (2000). Using standard ethnographic techniques, including prepared questionnaires and open-ended conversation, we identified several trends in the public's perceptions of archaeology and have developed some hypotheses to account for them. As the Society for American Archaeology has only recently begun to understand, to better educate the general public about archaeology it is important to identify and understand the sources of these misconceptions. For more than a century, Hollywood, book publishers, advertisers and the American public have been fascinated with archaeology. More recently, archaeology has come to cable television with the introduction of the highly successful "The Discovery Channel" and "The History Channel. " In this paper, we focus specifically on issues pertaining to the connection the public creates between archaeologists and dinosaurs, gender biases about archaeology, and public views on the looting of archaeological sites. This paper concludes with reasons why this sort of study is essential to the field of archaeology