Park County, Colorado
How Does Archaeology Relate to Historic Preservation?
Although they overlap in many ways, archaeology and historic preservation are distinct fields. Historic preservation is concerned with the physical protection of historic buildings, landscapes, and other sites for the purposes of education, cultural enrichment, and public benefit. When compared to archaeology, historic preservation is less concerned with the analysis of artifacts and other physical remains from past cultures, and more focused on the preservation of historic buildings and landscapes.
To illustrate, consider the Jefferson Schoolhouse in Jefferson, Colorado. Built around 1901, the schoolhouse was a key component of Jefferson during the railroad era and is an excellent example of early twentieth century vernacular wood frame architecture. The building contributes to the Jefferson Main Street Historic District and is a local historic landmark. Saving, maintaining, and helping to showcase important legacy buildings like the schoolhouse is what preservationists do. On the other hand, the 2018 discovery of artifacts during preservation work on the building excites the archaeologists! Artifacts include a firework wrapper, both candy and tobacco cigarette wrappers, a spanking paddle, pencil fragments, and a youth’s necktie. Each artifact relates information about the students that used Jefferson’s Schoolhouse, information that is not readily found in history books.
Cherry bomb fireworks wrapper