Anthropology majors Dana Case ’14 and Sarah Cohen ’15 “just want people to be excited about archaeology.” It’s the central driving force behind their exhibit, “Archaeology Myths Dispelled: Archaeology in Kent County,” which is currently on display at the Kent County Public Library.
Designed and put together as a final project for Assistant Professor Julie Markin’s Contemporary Issues in Archaeology class, the exhibit aims to educate the broader public about the discipline of archaeology and dispel some of the pervasive myths surrounding it. The display shelves are filled with arrowheads and pottery shards, many of which were found in Maryland and some of which were dug up by Washington College students on past digs. Accompanying placards address common misconceptions, informing readers that, among other things, archaeologists don’t dig up dinosaurs, aren’t in the business of hunting down precious artifacts to sell to museums, and can’t actually seize anyone’s property, no matter the value of any artifacts they might find on it.
Cohen describes the display as public outreach, intended to give visitors a better idea of the goal of archaeology - preservation of the past - and encourage them to work with archaeologists instead of opposing them. Case, who spent last summer researching the Ischma culture at an archaeological dig in Peru for her senior thesis, agrees, adding that she hopes the exhibit might help to prevent the destruction of potential dig sites in the Chestertown area.
“Community involvement in archaeology is critical, as archaeologists are largely dependent on the generosity of the public with regards to both funding and dig sites,” says Case. Cohen echoes her sentiments, adding that she wants people to know that “archaeologists are really these nice, friendly people,” and that the ultimate goal of the archaeologist isn’t to take away land or artifacts, but to enhance everyone’s knowledge of history.
The exhibit will be on display until May 4.