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Get Involved with Oregon Archaeology

October 3, 2019

By: John Pouley, Assistant State Archaeologist, Oregon SHPO

October is Archaeology Month, which is a great time for everyone to get involved with archaeology! Each year, Oregon celebrates with a themed poster and a calendar of archaeology events. This year’s theme, fittingly, is Public Archaeology. If you have ever wanted to learn more about archaeology, attend talks by professional archaeologists, visit a museum with archaeological collections, or even volunteer for an archaeological project, there may be an opportunity closer than you think!

The 2019 Oregon Archaeology Month poster includes images of public participants who have had the opportunity to work with professional archaeologists across the state. Some were able to learn about important events and activities of the past by participating in archaeological studies at the very places where the events and activities occurred. Others interacted with professional archaeologists at public events. From a military fort on the coast to Chinese mining in eastern Oregon, to the annual Portland State University sponsored Archaeology Roadshow, the opportunities allowed anyone with an interest in archaeology to learn more.

Learning to use the atlatl

Archaeology is the study of the past, based on relationships between places and associated artifacts that help tell a story. Archaeologists collect information using a variety of archival references, field methods, lab analyses, ethnographic and historic sources, contemporary interviews, contextual relationships – pretty much any available information source, to help learn as much as possible about these past activities, events, and associated places.

The current body of archaeological research supports a rich vibrant picture of the people that have lived within Oregon’s state boundaries from the end of the last Ice Age, over 14,000 years ago, up to the more recent past. Many current Oregonians are direct descendants of these people, from those here since time immemorial, to Chinese emigrants of the latter 1800s, Oregon Trail trekkers, early military fort soldiers and officers, settlers, etc. Archaeological sites and information on their location are protected under state law. Due to these necessary protections, archaeologists try to find creative ways to involve the public so they can learn about the incredible and ancient history of what we now call Oregon. If you are interested in learning more, please check out our Calendar of Archaeology Events or visit Oregon State Historic Preservation Office’s Archaeological Services web page.

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