A huge part of my motivation behind this blog was to promote civic engagement in science. My recently-published article in SynBioBeta News, entitled “Shouting from the Ivory Tower”, talks about the problems of science being inaccessible and, often, unfriendly. One big cultural solution to this problem is for more trustworthy science-friendly public figures — namely politicians — to step up as messengers for complex, even scary research.
Another crucial facet of STEM literacy is encouraging public engagement. Every single scientist has the potential to spark the same sense of wonder and curiosity that drove us to be scientists in the first place. To do this, communicating and getting involved in the fabric of the community is key.
I wanted to use this post to highlight just such an opportunity, geared towards people of all ages who are interested in digging into the world of archaeology.
Enter the 7th annual Archaeology Roadshow in Portland, OR. At the 2018 Roadshow you will get to excavate a real whale skeleton, bring personal artifacts for experts to identify, throw an ancient spear, and more! It was organized, in part, by a close personal friend of mine at Portland State University, Michelle North. Michelle is a PDX graduate student in archaeology.
From the Roadshow’s website:
“Our theme this year is ‘the Archaeology of Change.’ Fundamentally, archaeologists study the ways people, societies, and environments change through time: within a year, over decades, centuries, or even millennia. Sometimes cultures persist in the face of environmental upheavals or cultural shifts; sometimes they don’t. Why in some places and times do once highly-mobile people become sedentary? Why do the food choices people make change or not? Why is change sometimes fast or sometimes gradual? Why do some parts of culture persist (and some parts change)? (Chess is one of our favorite examples… 12th c. chess pieces have been excavated from coastal Scotland!) We can think about change across so many fronts (technology, beliefs and religion, family structure, food) it is mind boggling.”
Archaeology is about more than digging holes and finding buried treasure. It’s about studying our past and using it to inform the present. It’s about finding quirks, expecting the unexpected, and learning what has always made us human.
The Roadshow’s two events in early June will let people get learn about the archaeology of change from the experts. The first is on Saturday, June 2, on the Portland State University campus next to the Farmer’s Market. The second is on Saturday, June 9, in Burns/Hines in Harney County. Check out the website for more details. You can also check out their Facebook page to see some awesome photos from previous shows.
These are two wonderful opportunities to talk to real archaeologists and anthropologists about our heritage. Stop by to learn about the connection we share with the ground we live on. And, the icing on the cake: events are totally free!