Archaeology is a field of study that has the potential to uncover the past and provide insight into the history of humanity. In Harris County, Texas, archaeologists have been able to document 10,000 years of human occupation in one of the hottest and driest areas of the United States. Through meticulous excavation, 160 square meters of paleosol have been investigated, representing approximately 60 to 70 percent of the total. This research has revealed some of the most significant findings in the region.
It is essential that archaeologists continue to discover and document endangered cultural heritage and conduct problem-oriented field research. However, it is also important that they spend more effort accessing, analyzing, and comparing disparate data sets to obtain explanations and ideas about human behavior that could never arise from the analysis of individual projects. To achieve this, archaeologists need to collaborate with scientists from other disciplines and carry out synthetic research that has institutional and infrastructure support beyond what could be achieved through grant-funded initiatives at universities or individual research institutes. In the United States, archaeological research is overwhelmingly carried out by private sector companies to comply with historic preservation laws and mandates. After the enactment of laws protecting archaeological sites in 1966, the number of sites recorded in the region rose from 100 to more than 2,000.
Collaborative synthetic research would also help to make relevant archaeological and paleoenvironmental data collected during archaeological projects available to other scientists, by harnessing the potential of archaeological records for interdisciplinary research. Archaeological data can be key to expanding scientific understanding of human social dynamics, correcting past injustices, empowering local communities and descendants, and helping to formulate solutions to contemporary problems. Collaborative synthetic research in archaeology will shed light on long-term trajectories related to alternative social solutions to problems that humanity has repeatedly faced, such as healing the wounds of slavery and colonialism or adapting to a hotter, drier climate. The Archaeological Institute of the United States of America (Houston Society) is bringing two programs to the Harris County Public Library from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Other members of the Coalition that now offer these services can provide key support to cyberinfrastructure, such as Digital Antiquity, the Archaeological Data Service, Open Context, and the Network for Computational Modeling in Social and Ecological Sciences.
The Coalition will be open to all institutions interested in partnering to support archaeological synthesis. For those interested in becoming archaeologists one day, there are several resources available at the Harris County Public Library. The book So You Want to Work with the Ancient and Recent Dead contains information about archaeology and other interesting careers such as forensic science and paleontology. National Geographic also has several children's books on archaeology available at the library. In a recent survey (201), more than 90% of Americans agreed that information from archaeological sites is essential to understanding humanity's past, and more than 75% agreed that the United States government should do more to preserve archaeological sites and provide additional funding for scientific research and site protection. Archaeological research in Harris County has revealed some of the most significant findings in the region. Through meticulous excavation and collaboration with scientists from other disciplines, archaeologists have been able to uncover 10,000 years of human occupation in one of the hottest and driest areas of the United States.
This research has provided insight into human social dynamics, corrected past injustices, empowered local communities and descendants, and helped formulate solutions to contemporary problems.