Peter Babala, Santa Rosa Junior College
(July 3, 2016)—A huge part of what initially attracted me to the field of archaeology was the sense of connection I get when I learn little more about the places I have lived and where the roots of my ancestries lie. It is a gift to have been given the opportunity to directly interact with and interpret the past during my time at the Preservation Archaeology Field School. I feel particularly lucky to have the chance to share what we’re doing here and what we’re learning with the people local to the area and with our supporters all over the world who choose to follow our work online.
Throughout the field season we have had dozens of visitors attend our public lectures and visit us at the site. Each time, they’ve been just as excited to learn about our work as we’ve been to share it. Local supporters have also made invaluable contributions towards making our time in the field an exceptional experience. From Kate and her wonderful dog Minnie’s near-daily visits to the site (the highlight of our days, really), to AT’s generosity in allowing us to survey his land, to Scott and Hara’s kindness in giving us a home for the summer, and countless others, all of our supporters (far too numerous to mention here) have truly made our work here possible.
We were given the chance to share the results of our local research at the outreach fair we held at the Nature Conservancy on June 25. We had a variety of projects and activities, including adobe models, a board game, flintknapping demonstrations, painting with pigments, and more. The sheer number of people and diversity of attendees was a welcome surprise to us all, and I know I enjoyed the chance to share my interests with everyone who came. Encouraging appreciation for the archaeological record is vital to the continuation of research, preservation initiatives, and heritage concerns not only in the Southwest, but also all over the globe. I can only hope that our work here helped foster a greater appreciation for and awareness of the archaeology of the Southwest.
From my time in Cliff, I have gained essential knowledge regarding the importance of positive relations with local communities, which I never would have had the chance to learn in a regular classroom. Seeing how the Archaeology Southwest staff form and nurture connections within the community has been a rewarding experience I won’t soon forget. Over the past four weeks, the symbiotic nature of the relationships between archaeologists and communities became more to me than the archaeological theory and project obstacles that I had previously learned them to be. They became an intrinsic part of the archaeological process and a necessity for anyone with a concern for the past. Unknowingly, the wonderful people of Cliff have taught me an important lesson in archaeological practice and community relations that I will keep with me throughout my career, wherever it takes me.