Heritage, Volume 9, Number 2, Spring 1991 Page: 20
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distant future. With even a minimal
support base offered by a public
facility, preservation groups can
sustain themselves logistically and
emotionally for long term growth
where they might otherwise fade
away. In turn, such groups can help an
archaeological park defray costs, and
promote the long term research and
conservation of archaeological sites in
local and even regional areas, an act
seldom achieved by traditional
Public interpretation educates
persons, especially youth, to condone
the vandalism of archaeological sites
by relic collectors. Finally, archaeological
sites often exist in natural
settings. The native plants and
animals at hand not only relate to the
ancient or historic resources and
culture being interpreted, but tie in
for use of the archaeological sites for
natural resources workshops: botany,
geology, wildlife, etc.
The issue also is not for archaeological
parks to highlight the
"biggest, fastest, oldest" syndrome of
archaeology. In other words, while it is
great to interpret a Caddoan ceremonial
plaza or Ice Age animal killsite,
both scientists and lay-persons
alike are curious about mundane
sites, and such sites can be interpreted
in interesting ways.
Good planning and development
could make even a prehistoric burned
rock mound in Central Texas a highly
informative feature which average
people would enjoy learning about.
Instead, we will probably see these
distinctly Edward's Plateau phenomena
whittled away by collectors,
suburbanization and unimaginative
mitigation efforts until none exist.
Maybe we should leave archaeology
in the realm of mystery, which
some would certainly support.
Keeping the status quo of public
funded environmental studies related
to archaeology will maintain this
A relic collector recently told me,
after indicating that digging up
arrowheads was like injecting a needle
of drugs in his arm, that God created
chipped stone tools to mystify usthey
weren't made by humans and we
are not meant to ever explain them. (But it's
O.K. to dig up dead Indians and muse over
them?) Too bad there is not one public facility
interpreting a prehistoric site on-site in Central
Texas where this fellow could get a reality
Too bad that in fifty years or so future
historians will look at the history of public
service archaeology in Texas and in our country
and ask "What did we get for 'X' millions of
dollars?" "Why didn't anybody let public
agencies and politicians know what their
options could be?"
Erwin Roemer, Jr. has worked as a public service
archaeologist for five Texas state agencies and one
federal agency. The views expressed here are
influenced by those experiences while Mr. Roemer
represents only himself concerning statements made
in this article.
20 HERITAGE * SPRING 1991
Lubbock Lake Landmark State Historic Park, a recently developed archaeological park near
Lubbock, Texas. Photo courtesy of Wyman Meinzer, Benjamin, Texas.
Destruction of a prehistoric site by commercial digging on private land in Central Texas, Fall 1990.
Photo courtesy of Bob Parvin, Austin and the Texas Historical Commission.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 9, Number 2, Spring 1991, periodical, Spring 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45424/m1/20/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.