In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Archaeological Education

  • Introduction
  • Journals
  • Archaeology and School Curricula
  • Prehistory in School Curricula
  • Teaching Teachers
  • Learning Outdoors
  • Learning from Objects
  • Delivering Archaeological Education
  • Teaching Resources
  • University Archaeological Education

Anthropology Archaeological Education
Michael Corbishley
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 March 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766567-0165


Was there ever a time before there was archaeological education? In the 1920s the topic began to be discussed by some archaeologists in Britain. A conference was held in 1943 at the Institute of Archaeology in London to discuss the future of archaeology in the UK once the Second World War was over. One of the sessions focused on education in primary and secondary schools and in universities and in adult education. To most people back then, linking the words “archaeology” and “education” meant only school trips to ancient monuments and, in some museums, school officers who gave lessons based on the collections. Archaeology in the 21st century faces outward more than inward, with many professional and unpaid voluntary archaeologists working on projects that actively involve the public and young people. Those who are both archaeologists and educators want to educate young people so that they are excited by and protect and care for our past. It is now common in many countries to think of the past as more than just a time and a place that existed long ago. It includes the past that we ourselves have experienced, as well as the past of our parents and grandparents. In fact, the archaeology of contemporary cultures has now become respectable. Education for adults as well as for young people should include examples of and discussions about the way archaeologists work, scientifically searching for evidence to authenticate those stories about the past. Archaeologists help people celebrate the wonders of the past, and the everyday life of past peoples, but also express concerns about the destruction of the world’s most important monuments. While an archaeologist’s ultimate aim might not be to train hundreds of future archaeologists, those in the field should consider the best ways of sharing knowledge and expertise. For young people in particular, in formal and informal situations, getting archaeology in the curriculum and encouraging fun activities (for families and the general public) at historic sites and museums is essential.


Archaeological education does not have a regular academic journal of its own. General books on archaeology for students often ignore education, perhaps because it is still seen by some as an unimportant part of the discipline. However, articles are published about education projects and its place in archaeology itself. The major archaeological organizations (see Delivering Archaeological Education) provide a good service for both teachers and working archaeologists. Academic journals in archaeology rarely include papers about archaeological education, though some have published useful special issues on education (see Journal Special Issues). Three important journals take a world approach: Antiquity, Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress, and World Archaeology. Archaeologists have recently been able to access journals to cover specific areas in their subject of interest. The most useful titles for archaeological education are: Conservation of Management and Archaeological Sites, Historic Environment: Policy and Practice, and Journal of Community Archaeology & Heritage.

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