A Very Remote Storage Box Indeed: The Importance of Doing Archaeology with Old Museum Collections
ABSTRACTAlthough our practice has come to be defined by a focus on excavation as the trademark of archaeological research, research on archaeological collections lies at the scientific heart of the discipline. We demonstrate through two very different case studies how a return to primary sources (in this case, boxes of artifacts) can upend our understanding of the objects themselves and create new narratives of social and technological change. At the same time, access to museum collections is becoming increasingly difficult as institutions struggle with the growing pressure to enhance public outreach and modernize data management, while simultaneously contending with persistent budget cuts. As archaeologists who work closely with museum curators and museum collections, we offer suggestions for how researchers can work with museums to ensure that future generations of researchers and the general public can learn from the ancient materials preserved within their collections.