Common ground: Archaeological practice and local communities in southeastern Turkey

Melissa Rosenzweig, Laurent Dissard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


There has been a growing disquiet among archaeologists over the dynamics of inequality historically embedded in the archaeological project (Baird 2011; Dawdy 2009; Hamilakis and Duke 2007). For those doing research abroad, anxieties about knowledge claims and civic responsibilities are compounded by the complications of working under the specter of colonialism and the reality of present-day socio-political conditions. In response, community archaeologists have worked toward establishing multi-vocal, non-exclusive, non-hierarchical forms of scientific practice (Derry and Malloy 2003; Little and Shackle 2007; Merriman 2004; Watson and Waterton 2008). Community archaeology emphasizes the creation of permeable boundaries that allow non-archaeologists access to excavation sites and activities for the promotion of archaeological research and education (Atalay 2007; Breglia 2007; Kuhns 2008; Marshall 2002). We would like to argue that in order for excavations to remain inclusive and viable, community archaeology must further provide for the desires of non-archaeologists to pursue non-archaeological concerns in and around sites. Community archaeology is, first and fore most, archaeology conducted within communities. Any collaborative program that seeks to destabilize hierarchies embedded in archaeological practice, we posit, must first wrestle with the tensions that emanate from running scientific projects (with their own attendant power structures) in non-scientific, communal spaces. In our observations and experiences of fieldwork at Ziyaret Tepe, we have found that archaeological discourse alone cannot achieve the multilateral dialogue sought through collaborative practice. Instead we discovered, through the intervention of a funeral procession, that ceding archaeological priority over to local affairs not only preserves the integrity of the archaeological project, but also expands the value of sites as locations with scientific, historic, and contemporary meaning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-158
Number of pages7
JournalNear Eastern Archaeology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology

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