We are all archaeology
This project aims to emphasise the role of archaeology not only as a historical science or the origin of a collective identity, but also as an engine for economic growth and a source of employment.
Arqueología Somos Todos was born in the hands of the Sísifo Research Group in early 2011 as a university project on archaeological dissemination that, to date, has already seen the participation of several thousand people from Córdoba including individuals of all ages, social classes and levels of education. This project ultimately aims to share the findings of our research (both our own and others'), with the general public. The project members are certain that the vast amount of information gathered over recent decades offers almost endless possibilities. They are also confident that people will learn to respect, protect, defend and support archaeology even considering it a symbol of identity, something to be proud of, a resource for the future and something necessary that cannot and must not be disregarded, if only they have the opportunity to appreciate and understand what this discipline represents. This thus completes, on the other hand, the defining conceptual framework of our science, in turn encouraging feedback.
We intend to show, without budging even a millimetre from this discipline's most demanding methodological and heuristic foundations – and with a constant awareness of the typical reservations of the scientific community (or at least the majority of it) – that there are alternative, surprisingly effective ways to approach the past as a shared legacy capable of both creating sustainable employment and enriching the culture, heritage and tourism that a historic city (Córdoba, in our case) has to offer, at the same time making that city more visible and internationally appealing. This objective takes on even greater significance in times of despair such as these: we assert that education is the most effective way of fighting the battle against a generalised apathy, disinterest and indifference; that professional skills, imagination, multidisciplinary skills, inventiveness and a sense of commitment are the defining values on which to build a future, especially the future of our young people, who are much in need of motivation, projects and an entrepreneurial culture.
Coordinator: Universidad de Córdoba, http://www.uco.es/
Target groups: college students, education authorities, general public, industry, parents, policy makers, primary school students, researchers, secondary school students, teachers, trainee teachers, under school-age kids, university students, university lecturers, vocational school students
Topic: Anthropology, Archaeology, Geography, Geology, Education
Start year: 2001
Contact person: Desiderio Vaquerizo Gil Email: aa1vagid (at) uco.es
For lack of sufficiently competitive programmes in this field, at Arqueología Somos Todos we developed an innovative and creative project capable of sharing the historical reality of the capital of the province of Córdoba with an enormous audience both local and foreign. This history ranges from its Turdetani origins up to its most recent industrial period. For this project, we will build on the previous experience acquired by our work-team of university professors, academic researchers, archaeologists, surveyors, draftsmen, computer technicians and administrative assistants with clear interdisciplinary callings, who, under the guidance of D. Vaquerizo, identified the city's heritage needs and designed an intense activity programme.
Conference series, exhibitions, literature and photography contests, workshops and tours for children among other activities have generated the tools, protocols and measures needed to create a quality education for a public of all levels and ages. For these activities, we made use of public spaces, cultural centres, schools, neighbourhoods, associations, etc., in order to promote culture by using imaginative, sound proposals aimed at conceptualising archaeology as a useful science that is able to provide both aesthetic and intellectual enjoyment as well as generating economic benefits.
Our main goal was to consolidate an archaeological outreach model capable of building synergies with other public-private organisations, actively sharing knowledge about history and arousing curiosity, imagination and an interest in science, thus creating an unparalleled combination of culture, technology, education, urban and rural territory management and citizen involvement.
All of these goals have evolved into a series of specific objectives:
- Emphasise the University's role as a driving force which generates knowledge and revitalises the social setting it operates in.
- Strengthen the cultural and heritage legacy of Córdoba in order to encourage a new creative cultural industry and entrepreneurial model which is able to provide feedback on itself and, as a result, generate quality employment.
- Generate renewed momentum in the dissemination of archaeological heritage – which is quite inaccessible at times – by taking advantage of new technologies and producing online digital content, while always basing these actions on supported research.
- Strengthen and broaden existing ties with public administrations, the business sector, mass media and public/professional groups associated with archaeological heritage, culture and the tourism sector by promoting, ultimately, cooperation and the establishment of associations.
- Create a context in which the results from research afforded by the Sísifo Research Group and other archaeology professionals are interwoven with the urban, economic, sociocultural and working reality of our city, simultaneously seeking the involvement of new economic actors to ensure financial support for this research.
- Make it possible for society to come face-to-face with Córdoba's archaeological evidence and the problems associated with it, thus fuelling citizen involvement.
- Enrich the heritage and tourism that the historic city has to offer, while simultaneously making the city more visible and internationally appealing as part of a trend that considers archaeological assets a prime emerging resource in the field of cultural industry.
In order to keep the researching, protection and awareness of archaeological heritage at the forefront, the dissemination of knowledge is a key factor. Archaeology – often misinterpreted – needs to be understood by society as a useful science that is able to provide both aesthetic and intellectual enjoyment in addition to generating economic benefits. In order for archaeology to be understood in this way, it is imperative to go one step further and design an ambitious programme that goes beyond conventional education systems by implementing innovative strategies. These particularly include new technologies that, treated with discipline, enhance our teaching and allow us to fight back against common flaws such as indifference and superficiality by proposing new ideas based on interaction, creativity, reflection and critical thinking.
With this project, we not only wish to encourage a career in archaeology among tomorrow's adults, but also to educate ordinary citizens who are dedicated to their historical and archaeological heritage, to society in general, and particularly to science. This objective can only be approached by offering a quality, educational programme that is tailored to various levels and understood as a stable, lasting and far-reaching project. The Ongoing Training Classroom for Archaeology at the College of Philosophy and Arts (UCO), located right in Córdoba's historic centre, has become our main operations centre. In this optimal and special scenario -using virtual interactive applications and sophisticated, artificial leisure environments- we are implementing a novel training project that brings into play a large, interdisciplinary scientific team which is highly qualified and contributes recognised experience in scientific dissemination.
Archaeodrome. Archaeology is a subject with a high level of instrumental content; to properly understand it requires contact with physical media, whether with real remains or through recreational activities. With this idea in mind, and on account of the scarcity of excavations currently available in our city, in 2012 we decided to build an archaeodrome (a simulation of an archaeological excavation) in the School of Philosophy and Arts. This important tool in our outreach activity, which was very well received, is a to-scale reproduction of the remains of an Andalusian dwelling (a sitting room, hallway, latrine and a patio with a well) with an earlier period (Roman tombs) and another, contemporary period (cesspit). This makes it possible to understand the stratigraphic relationship and the diachronic interpretation of an archaeological site. The advantage of this “simulation" is that it can be re-excavated indefinitely; these possibilities did not go unnoticed by schools and the local and national media.
Archaeodrome Educational Book. To complement the activities carried out in the archaeodrome, especially excavation, an educational book was compiled so that, through a range of games, interesting facts, information adapted to different levels and extensive graphical content, participants may understand all the phases of the scientific process of archaeology: from the formation of a site to the recovery of archaeological remains, the collection and treatment of material and laboratory study and interpretation, with the single goal of reconstructing the history of what happened there.
“Archaeological Routes through Córdoba" Educational Guides. This informative and educational material was designed to complement the guided tours of the city we were running, as well as our online archaeological routes viewer, which shows a range of chronological and thematic routes we designed around the city of Córdoba: eight from the Roman period and four from the Islamic period. With a novel hands-on format, thanks to a drop-down section, the guide includes generalised introductory texts, maps, timelines, detailed descriptions, instructive graphics, a bibliography and games, with the intention of covering all possible reading levels.
Teaching Workshops. Since the beginning, Arqueología Somos Todos (“We are all archaeology") has created a series of independent workshops which aim to teach – at different learning levels – about what archaeology is in an entertaining and enjoyable manner; at the same time, the workshops raise awareness of the value of historical and archaeological heritage. These activities draw on original graphics and a large amount of experimental and artistic content.
Recently, we have broadened our range of workshops with new offerings based on historical recreation or living history, in which visitors are given characters so that they may assimilate the different social roles of past eras, as we have shown with The Romans, Gladiator School and Craftsmen's Apprentices.
Video game. The educational video game “Arqueología Virtual. Aprende a ser arqueólogo" (“Virtual Archaeology: Learn to be an Archaeologist") is based on the scientific and archaeological method, covering everything from fieldwork to laboratory analysis. After a brief introduction to archaeology and the dynamic of the game from our mascot Claudia, we are shown a bird’s eye view of a site containing a cut which is ready to be excavated. At different levels, the player finds movable objects with descriptions and some structures of historical buildings (an Islamic house, Roman baths). Once the excavation is complete, the game moves to the laboratory, where an interpretation of the excavated material is carried out: the different strata and excavated objects are studied in order to identify and date the structures found. Having achieved this, the player is given a three-dimensional reconstruction of the buildings discovered, accompanied by a concise explanation which concludes the game.
Gymkhana. As an interactive alternative to the traditional routes, and with the objective of introducing new technologies into our activities, this year we have designed a virtual competition which takes place in the historic centre of Córdoba. The competition promotes teamwork and, where applicable, family activities by creating mystery problems which must be resolved using the different methods and auxiliary sciences of archaeology: toponymy, orientation, photography, oral and written sources, epigraphy, topography, numismatics, interpretation of findings, excavation, etc. Pupils are divided into several groups and equipped with the “archaeologist’s toolbox": graph paper, pencil, magnifying glass, compass, tape measure, trowel, etc. They must collect samples and answer questions which allow them to reach different levels of the game using a tablet.