Recreation and preservation: Allowing access to the past while ensuring there’s a future, by Emily Caselman

Emily Caselman received her Master’s Degree in Archaeology in 2016, and from there she became very interested in the relationship between archaeological sites and museums. She also has a passion for visiting State and National Parks and tries to escape to at least one new one each year. When Emily traveled to Utah two years ago, she noticed that archaeological sites within State and National Parks were somewhat unregulated. This got Emily thinking about what effects recreation may have on archaeological sites and the potential role that museums can play in educating the public on how to protect them. It was this idea that eventually formed into her 2018 Colloquium presentation. Below is a small summary of her presentation.

Summary: “Some of the most popular tourist destinations in the world are centered on archaeological sites. Thousands of people flood these locations every year, hoping to get a glimpse of the past up close and personal. But this glimpse does not always come without a price: on their quest for unforgettable experiences, people often put aside their concern for the preservation of sites. A tourist dropped a camera on a 1500-year-old skull at Actun Tunichil Muknal cave in 2012, the rock art in Utah’s National Forrest was vandalized in 2015, and a Navajo structure was recently dismantled in Bear’s Ears National Monument and used as firewood. The damage caused to these sites and artifacts is irreversible, whether intended or not. Going forward, recreation and preservation must go hand in hand. This presentation discusses possible ways in which recreational opportunities can be provided while still ensuring sites’ integrity and preservation. Specific examples are drawn from current sites within North America and Mesoamerica, which already implement creative and engaging techniques.“

Emily Caselman and Dr. Pickering


Emily Caselman on research dig


Her passion and incredible presentation of her topic earned her first place in the 21st Student Research Colloquium this spring semester! Congratulations Emily!