Saturday, June 20, 2009

Davenport Dig Review

Last night Jessica and I presented a summary of the summer's discoveries in Parowan. The city staff booked us into the historic Aladdin Theater, the old movie house that they converted into a community theater. About 100 people came out to see our presentation! Nur Kausar wrote a nice summary for this morning's Cedar City Daily News.

I gave an overview of the Utah Pottery Project and then Jessica took the audience through the site, explaining the different buildings and activity areas we had uncovered. After the overview, I spoke about the experimental research we undertook before this summer and what directions our research may take us in the future.

I undertook this entire research dig as a kind of public archaeology. We opened the site and welcomed visitors all day and every day. I operated the dig in this manner because I believe strongly in community-based public archaeology. Public archaeology showcases archaeological research as a collaborative process, like a journey of discovery. I invited people from Parowan's different communities to join us as partners in the research, instead of subjects or consultants. We have been building relationships with the community and I hope that our partnerships continue to flourish in the future as we consider future research and public programming, such as imagining the operating replica of the Davenport Pottery site for the Iron Mission State Park Museum.

Of course, as a public archaeology program, we are seeking partners who want to facilitate the research and community partnerships by providing scholarships and support for students to work it the lab and field studies. If you are interested, please click here for more information on how you can help as an individual, a foundation, or an corporation.

Last night's public lecture and presentation was an opportunity to give a more formal summary of what we have accomplished thus far. I was also able to extend our deep thanks to the members of the community who have prepared treats for the research team - from delivering burritos or cookies to the dig, hosting picnic dinners for us, and inviting us to swim in their pools. I don't think I've ever felt so welcomed by a community.

I am very grateful to the Utah Humanities Council for their financial support of the public programming elements of this field project. The UHC also supported my early attempts to get the project going, which resulted in the current programmatic agreement between Michigan Tech and Utah State Parks. As I said last night, the UHC asks that each event sponsored by their organization include this statement:
"This program has received funding from the Utah Humanities Council. The Utah Humanities Council promotes understanding of diverse traditions, values, and ideas through informed public discussion."

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