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Kuwaiti Youth Attitudes toward Archaeology

Majed Almutairi

Cite this as: Almutairi, M. 2018 Kuwaiti Youth Attitudes toward Archaeology, Internet Archaeolgy 47 https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.47.9

1. Introduction

This study sheds light on the archaeological reality of Kuwait, a tiny country located in the north-west part of the Arabian Gulf. While there have been few archaeological studies of Kuwait, the country is known for its ancient history, which dates back to the Ubaid culture (6000 BC), Dilmun civilization (2000 BC), and Hellenistic period (300 BC) and continues through to the Islamic period (AD 633).

In 1960, Kuwait enacted a law to ensure the protection and maintenance of archaeological sites. To date, the Kuwaiti government has rarely implemented this law or even actively participated in promoting archaeological awareness among Kuwaiti citizens. This study tries to address this inaction by assessing the level of knowledge of, interest in, and awareness of archaeology among Kuwaiti youth. It also focuses on their perceptions of how the Kuwaiti government implements archaeology law. In keeping with the social learning theory (Bandura 1977), the study analyses the impact of students' socioeconomic background and personal exposure to archaeology on their attitudes and behaviours toward archaeology.

It is worth noting that Kuwait has been going through dramatic socioeconomic changes in the past six decades since the discovery and exportation of oil in the 1940s. The oil revenues have accelerated the process of modernisation in Kuwait and transformed the social fabric of the traditional and patriarchal society into more modern life. This has been relevant to many aspects of social life including economic, educational, familial and political. As a result, youth and gender roles and their attitudes have changed tremendously. In such a social environment, it is expected that individuals' perceptions will vary based on class, age, and gender. Lack of education in the older generation means they may not value archaeology as much as the younger ones. Accordingly, the study will focus on attitudes toward archaeology by the youth, who will be the future leaders of the society.

Today, archaeology is one of the most important fields of science, where the methods and theories of this discipline reveal histories and cultures of ancient societies, including their political, social, and economic institutions (Smith and Harris 2001). Archaeology has grown to become part of the modern and traditional material and non-material cultures of contemporary societies (Boesch 1993; Donald 1998). This scientific discipline is relevant to the human heritage that helps people further understand their past and present.

Despite progress in maintaining archaeological discoveries in some countries, international organisations concerned with archaeology, culture, and heritage aspire to accomplish more work in archaeology related to human behaviour as well as to human interactions with nature. Infringements, deliberate damage, illegal excavation, and archaeological trafficking and trading are considered the most damaging activities nowadays to archaeological sites all over the world (Al-Zahrani 2008). The effect of such irresponsible behaviour is the loss of non-renewable and the most valuable assets of ancient societies. Unfortunately, these infringements are still going on in some parts of the world, especially at times of war and in war zones, when there is no appreciation of archaeological sites and artefacts. According to Al-Qahtani (2015), there are many examples of such damage taking place in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America, especially where there is no control over borders of certain countries. Consequently, many of the antiquities disappear or remain 'missing' for many years while others end up in museums in those host countries that condone the presence of these antiquities in their museums. Such theft of archaeological artefacts has occurred for decades.

Many international and local agencies have put tremendous efforts into protecting the cultural heritage of their own countries as well as human heritage at large As indicated by Messenger (1999), many governments have entered into a series of mutual agreements with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organization (UNESCO) for this purpose. Countries have established laws, rules, and regulations to preserve and maintain the archaeology of ancient societies in situ, without moving them elsewhere. Some activists and volunteers interested in protecting and saving antiquities have played a role in raising awareness among people and brought the importance of archaeology as well as how to save its heritage to the attention of the public. Accordingly, legal implementation along with the promotion of awareness among people could help limit the damage and preserve archaeology in the long run. Government agencies, higher learning institutions, and the public at large are all responsible for maintaining their heritage. In addition, students should learn the history and archaeology of their ancestors and understand how they lived in ancient times.

2. Theoretical Framework and Literature Review

As the focus of this study is on youths' attitudes toward archaeology, it is assumed that their perceptions are shaped by their social environment. Personal experience and observation of archaeology through museum visits or media exposure may affect the development of youths' appreciation of archaeology. Furthermore, students may also learn from their role models (e.g., teachers and parents) regarding how they view the importance of archaeology. Bandura (1977) emphasised that learning takes place in a certain social context. Individuals usually learn from each other through observation, imitation, or modelling. Bandura focused on the significance of social environment as a reinforcing mechanism for modelling and imitation. According to this approach, people can learn and develop their attitudes and behaviour through observation (Bandura 1976). Despite the importance of observation as a learning tool, learning from role models can have a stronger effect. People can watch teachers, coaches, clergymen, parents, or significant others and imitate their behaviour, thereby learning both appropriate and inappropriate behaviours alike (Bandura 1986; Newman and Newman 2007). Along with this theoretical framework, we highlight studies that focus on variables such as exposure and experience with archaeology, archaeology education, and the role of parents and significant others in promoting archaeological awareness, with a particular emphasis on the differences between males and females in this regard.

Scientific research on people's attitudes toward archaeology in terms of their knowledge, interest, and awareness is limited except for a few studies (Abdelazim 2017; Marx et al. 2017; Al-Harith 2014; Al-Yasri 2012; Savenije 2011; Eisenwine 2000; Gardner 1997; Grebin 2000; Levstik et al. 2003; Malof 2005; Pokotylo and Guppy 1999; Ramos and Duganne 2000). Marx et al. (2017) reported the findings of a survey on the European perceptions of archaeology and archaeological heritage conducted by the NEARCH Project. The project involved 4516 citizens aged 18 years and older from nine European countries (Germany, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, and Sweden) and aimed to understand what they think and expect of their relation with archaeology and heritage. In response to key questions related to archaeology and its importance, 69% of citizens viewed it as a science that studies the past; useful science (90%); contribute to economic development (86%); archaeologists carry out archaeological excavation (98%); documentary programmes, news, reports on TV and radio are key source of information about archaeology (56%); archaeology should be taught in school (64%). The study also analysed results for each country individually. The study concluded that Europeans are quite well informed about archaeology and heritage and want a closer relationship with it. Citizens are clearly moved by heritage and keen to support archaeology as a useful discipline.

In their study of 963 individuals in British Columbia, Pokotylo and Guppy (1999) found that education is a key factor affecting attitudes, as highly educated respondents had more knowledge and awareness of archaeology than less educated ones. In addition, the researchers identified a gender variation, as females had more knowledge and awareness than males. The majority of respondents (86.9%) believed that archaeological sites should be protected.

In studying the impact of a visit to the National Institute of Dutch Slavery monument on students' knowledge of the slavery heritage in the Netherlands, Savenije (2011) concluded that students felt slavery heritage is important for the descendants of enslaved people even before visiting the museum. In his heritage education project in two classes at a secondary school in Amsterdam, Savenije found that 90% of students confirmed that the museum visit, along with museum lectures, had improved their understanding and given them a full image of the slavery period. Moreover, Ramos and Duganne (2000) conducted a study on 1016 individuals in the United States to assess their knowledge of archaeology. The study demonstrated that most participants with a high level of education – more than people with less education – thought of the word 'digging' when they heard the word 'archaeology'. Furthermore, people with experience of visits to museums and archaeological materials or sites had a greater level of awareness of what happens to things found by archaeologists than those with limited experience. People who visited sites or museums more often believed that archaeology is important than those without such experiences. Ramos and Duganne (2000) also found that the majority of respondents believed that students should study archaeology and how archaeologists work in school. A significant difference between males and females was found in this matter, as females were more likely to believe that students should study archaeology from kindergarten through fourth grade than males. Females also more often believed that archaeology is important and worth studying than males. The study concluded that most people think that archaeology is important for understanding the modern world and that archaeological materials have aesthetic and monetary value; therefore, they believed that laws are needed to protect archaeological sites.

Abdelazim (2017) conducted a study on 250 preparatory year students at the University of Hail, Saudi Arabia, to examine the relationship between students' perceptions and awareness of the Saudi Arabia national heritage, and three independent variables, namely, students' gender, place of residence, and familial interest. He found that familial interest was the only statistically significant variable that explained students' attitudes and awareness of the importance of their heritage. Additionally, Al-Yasri (2012) conducted a study of 980 students at Kufa University (Iraq) to examine their knowledge of archaeology in Iraq. This study found that the students had a limited knowledge of this matter, which the researcher attributed to a failure by their parents to educate them about the importance of archaeology and tourism and its significance to their country.

To promote knowledge of archaeology, Levstik et al. (2003) proposed offering archaeological training projects at the K–12 levels, highlighting the significance of education about archaeology by providing resources, as well as showing evidence of the impact of such a project. The project included an archaeology-training unit administered in the fifth-grade classroom and 74 students took part. Students had an opportunity to attend lectures on archaeology, visit an archaeological site, and carry out some excavation work. The researchers observed students' learning progress and gathered information during and after students' participation in the training unit. The data were coded and examined for content analysis. Levstik et al. (2003) found that the students who received advanced training in archaeology were more knowledgeable and interested in archaeology than others. They concluded that the archaeology training unit could help students learn the significance of archaeology and develop appreciation of archaeological work and objectives.

Eisenwine (2000) conducted a project on archaeology in school to promote knowledge and awareness of this discipline among youth. The researcher designed a specialised archaeology unit in the seventh grade, through which he concluded that the students' knowledge of this field increased. Malof's (2005) study of 460 teachers of fourth through seventh grades reached the same conclusion as Eisenwine (2000). Furthermore, by using a dig-box in a classroom curriculum, Chisholm et al. (2007) succeeded in increasing students' interest in archaeology. Similarly, two other studies (Gardner 1997; Grebin 2000) used the same technique for such projects. They concluded that exposure to materials related to archaeology is an enjoyable activity that enhances students' knowledge while increasing their level of awareness of archaeology's importance.

Archaeological studies in the Middle East in general and the Arabian Gulf countries in particular are very limited. Few studies examined an archaeology unit or visited a museum as part of the school curriculum at any stage of their education. Such educational efforts increase students' awareness of their culture, heritage, and archaeology. For example, Al-Harith (2014) conducted a study on 100 students enrolled in primary schools and 100 educators in Riyadh City in Saudi Arabia to explore their knowledge of archaeology. She found that students had a limited knowledge of archaeology. She also noted that it is necessary for Saudi Arabia's educational system to involve specialised archaeology teachers and dedicate some learning materials on local archaeology in order to increase students' knowledge and awareness of their history and culture.

3. Methodology

The current study was conducted in 2015 on a random sample of 1193 students from 12 high schools located in the six governorates in Kuwait (Kuwait city governorate, Hawali, Farwaniya, Jahra, Mubarak Al-Kabeer, and Ahmadi). Two high schools from each governorate (one with male students and one with female) were selected for the study. The emphasis was on students in the senior level of high school, which is the final stage in the public schooling system in Kuwait.

Before administering the survey, the author submitted the research proposal and questionnaire to the Psychology Department Academic and Ethics Committee in the College of Social Sciences at Kuwait University for approval. Furthermore, permission was obtained from the Ministry of Education in Kuwait to ensure students' and parents' consent. In addition, 30 students were used as a pilot study to examine the validity of the survey questions along with the clarity of the language and terminology. Also, in order to ensure the face validity of the survey, the researcher consulted with three colleagues in the field of archaeology to review the quality and content of the survey.

The study focused on students' knowledge of, awareness of, and interest in archaeology. The analysis of students' perceptions considered their gender, parents' level of education, schools' socioeconomic background, and experience of visits.

3.1 Variables and measurement

The study included three dependent variables and five independent variables. The dependent variables were students' level of knowledge, level of awareness, and interest in archaeology. Students' level of knowledge included their perceptions of the term 'archaeology', how archaeologists handled the artefacts, and the nature of archaeologists' work. Students' level of awareness included five questions on how students viewed the importance of archaeology in society and how important it is to integrate it into the curriculum, as well as how keen the Kuwaiti government was in maintaining and protecting archaeological sites. Students' level of interest was measured by asking about the reason for their interest in archaeology and their preference in knowing about archaeology.

The independent variables are gender (male and female), parents' level of education (mother and father) as either low (below high school) or high (high school and above), schools' socioeconomic background (high or low), and differences between schools located in high versus low socioeconomic communities. Parents' level of education coupled with the type of schools indicates students' socioeconomic status, which may have an effect on their perceptions of archaeology. Visitation experience includes students' experience in visiting archaeological sites in Kuwait or abroad.

Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to analyse the data. Along with the descriptive statistics, a Chi-square test was used to analyse variation among students in terms of their gender, parents' level of education, type of school in which they were enrolled, and their personal experience with visits to archaeological sites.

4. Findings

As previously indicated, the survey used in this study was administered to a sample of 1193 Kuwaiti students enrolled in 12 middle schools distributed among six governorates. The survey included questions in three areas: students' level of knowledge of archaeology, students' level of awareness of archaeology, and students' level of interest in archaeology. Five independent variables were used to analyse the variations in these three areas: gender, mother's level of education, father's level of education, school's classification, and visitation experience. The sample included a majority (645) of male students (54.1%) and 548 (45.9%) females. Students were enrolled in high and low level schools (50.5% and 49.9%, respectively) in terms of the socioeconomic levels of the communities in which they were located. Students' parent level of education was also measured as low and high. The data revealed that 50.5% and 46.8% of students' mothers and fathers, respectively, had a high level of education, defined as high school or above. With reference to students' experience and visits to museums and archaeological sites, 52.5% of them had such an experience.

5. Students' Level of Knowledge of Archaeology

To assess the level of students' knowledge of archaeology, the survey included three questions: What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word 'archaeology'? What do archaeologists do with things they found while working in your country? What is the nature of the archaeologist's job?

Table 1 shows multiple responses to the first question, regarding what students think of the word 'archaeology'. On average, 42.0% of students thought archaeology was something related to history or heritage while 25.0% of them viewed it as old cities. The remaining responses were varied and included ancient culture, the past, fossils, human remains, and ruins. In line with these responses, the results showed a minor difference between males and females: Males indicated a higher level of knowledge than females. Results also showed a minor difference between students coming from schools in low and high socioeconomic communities. Parents' level of education and students' experience of visiting museums showed no significant difference.

Table 1: Students' level of knowledge of archaeology (multiple responses)
Question ResponseMale (%) Female (%) Mother Ed. Low (%) Mother Ed. High (%) Father Ed. Low (%) Father Ed. High (%) Sch. Id Low (%) Sch. Id High (%) Visit (%) No Visit (%)
What do you think of when you hear the word archaeology?
Bones 47 (7.5) 40 (7.4) 45 (7.8) 42 (7.2) 52 (8.5) 34 (6.3) 36 (6.2) 51 (8.7) 43 (7.2) 40 (7.5)
Fossils 95 (15.1) 70 (13.0) 71 (12.4) 94 (16.1) 80 (13.1) 84 (15.6) 55 (9.5) 110 (18.8) 84 (14.1) 78 (14.6)
Fossil on stones 88 (14.0) 79 (14.7) 82 (14.3) 84 (14.4) 82 (13.5) 83 (15.6) 78 (13.5) 89 (15.2) 79 (13.2) 83 (15.5)
Old cities 169 (26.9) 122 (22.7) 155 (27.0) 133 (22.8) 157 (25.8) 129 (23.9) 147 (25.4) 144 (24.6) 152 (25.5) 134 (25.1)
History, heritage 277 (44.1) 215 (40.0) 246 (42.9) 243 (41.6) 253 (41.5) 231 (42.9) 268 (46.3) 223 (38.1) 255 (42.7) 220 (41.2)
Human remains 115 (18.3) 77 (14.3) 101 (17.6) 89 (15.2) 110 (18.1) 79 (14.7) 96 (16.6) 96 (16.4) 95 (15.9) 92 (17.2)
Ancient people 42 (6.7) 33 (5.6) 38 (6.6) 34 (5.8) 35 (5.7) 35 (6.7) 34 (5.9) 38 (6.5) 41 (6.7) 27 (5.1)
Ancient culture 129 (20.5) 76 (14.2) 85 (14.8) 120 (20.5) 97 (15.9) 105 (19.5) 116 (20.0) 89 (15.2) 104 (17.4) 91 (17.0)
Ruins 85 (13.5) 69 (11.7) 71 (12.4) 76 (13.0) 72 (11.8) 76 (14.1) 61 (10.5) 87 (14.9) 80 (13.4) 62 (11.6)
Study culture 54 (8.6) 47 (8.8) 49 (8.5) 52 (8.9) 52 (8.5) 49 (9.1) 48 (8.3) 53 (9.1) 62 (10.4) 35 (6.6)
Past 104 (16.6) 87 (16.2) 84 (14.6) 106 (18.2) 86 (14.1) 102 (18.9) 79 (13.6) 112 (19.1) 101 (16.9) 82 (15.4)
Other 3 (0.5) 3 (0.6) 1 (0.2) 5 (0.9) 3 (0.5) 3 (0.6) 2 (0.3) 4 (0.7) 4 (0.7) 1 (0.2)

Table 2 shows the results of the other two questions on students' level of knowledge of archaeology. In response to the question about what archaeologists should do with the things they find in their research, students' opinions varied considerably: 20.0% indicated that archaeologists should give what they find to museums, 19.0% felt that archaeologists should present their findings to the government, 14.0% suggested giving them to labs, and 13.0% felt that they should keep these things for themselves. The remaining students thought the findings should be displayed in public places, given to a university or scientific institute, or used for research.

The Chi-square test did not show any significant statistical differences between categories of the five independent variables, and results were evenly distributed among males and females, parents' low versus high education, schools' socioeconomic classification, and visitor experiences.

In responding to the question on the nature of archaeologists' work, Table 2 shows that the majority of students (56.0%) identified 'excavation' as an archaeologist's job. Some students felt that archaeologists hunt for treasures and/or search for human remains or lost cities. The relationship between gender and knowledge of archaeologists' work was statistically significant, Χ2 (4, N= 1151) = 49.02, p ≥ 0.05), indicating that males have a higher level of knowledge than females. The mother's level of education was a statistically significant factor as well, Χ2 (4, N= 1135) =10.09, p ≥ 0.05), so that students whose mothers have a higher education have a better knowledge of archaeologists' work than those whose mothers had a lower education. Likewise, students from schools located in high socioeconomic communities showed a higher level of knowledge of the work of an archaeologist, Χ2 (4, N= 1142) =12.88, p ≥ 0.05), than those from schools in low socioeconomic areas. The father's level of education and students' visitor experiences did not show a significant relationship with students' knowledge of archaeologists' work.

Table 2: Students' knowledge of archaeology
* P <0.05      ** P <0.01
Question Items Male (%) Female (%) Χ2 Mother Ed. Low (%) Mother Ed. High (%) Χ2 Father Ed. Low (%) Father Ed. High (%) Χ2 Sch. Id Low (%) Sch. Id High (%) Χ2 Visit No Visit Χ2
What do archaeologists do with things they find in their research in your country? To keep 71 (14.9) 45 (11.7) 11.73 64 (15.3) 52 (11.8) 8.65 66 (15.2) 50 (11.9) 14.1 61 (14.4) 55 (12.6) 6.76 64 (13.6) 48 (13.2) 11.59
Give to mus. 92 (19.3) 78 (20.2) 82 (19.6) 88 (20.0) 87 (20.0) 83 (19.8) 86 (20.2) 84 (19.3) 103 (21.9) 63 (17.3)
Give to Govt 90 (18.9) 74 (19.2) 72 (17.2) 92 (20.9) 74 (19.1) 89 (21.2) 73 (19.2) 90 (20.6) 94 (20.0) 67 (18.4)
Give to Univ. 37 (7.8) 38 (9.8) 38 (9.1) 37 (8.4) 36 (8.3) 37 (8.8) 35 (8.2) 40 (9.2) 41 (8.7) 28 (7.7)
Sell/auction 13 (2.7) 14 (3.6) 10 (2.4) 17 (3.9) 8 (1.8) 19 (4.5) 9 (2.1) 18 (4.1) 15 (3.2) 11 (3.0)
Research/doc. 44 (9.2) 23 (6.0) 27 (6.5) 40 (9.1) 35 (8.1) 32 (7.6) 36 (8.5) 31 (7.1) 36 (7.7) 28 (7.7)
Display 59 (12.4) 68 (17.6) 67 (16.0) 58 (31.2) 64 (14.7) 59 (14.0) 63 (14.8) 64 (14.7) 61 (13.0) 62 (17.0)
Give to Labs 66 (13.9) 43 (11.1) 55 (13.2) 53 (12.0) 61 (14.1) 47 (11.2) 59 (13.9) 50 (11.5) 52 (11.1) 55 (15.1)
Other 2 (0.4) 1 (0.3) 1 (0.2) 2 (0.5) 0 (0.0) 3 (0.7) 1 (0.2) 2 (0.5) 3 (0.6) 0 (0.0)
Don't know 2 (0.4) 2 (0.5) 2 (0.5) 2 (0.5) 3 (0.7) 1 (0.2) 2 (0.5) 2 (0.5) 1 (0.2) 3 (0.8)
What is the nature of the archaeologists' job? Excavation 386 (61.8) 229 (44.2) 49.02* 276 (48.8) 331 (58.1) 10.09* 311 (51.7) 294 (56.0) 3.74 292 (51.1) 322 (56.4) 12.88* 328 (56.4) 274 (51.6) 3.47
Treasures 99 (15.8) 149 (28.8) 138 (24.4) 110 (19.3) 141 (23.5) 106 (20.2) 141 (24.7) 107 (18.7) 123 (21.1) 118 (22.2)
Hum. remains 64 (10.2) 64 (12.4) 71 (12.6) 57 (10.0) 65 (10.8) 58 (11.0) 56 (9.8) 72 (12.6) 61 (10.5) 62 (11.7)
Lost cities 68 (10.9) 76 (14.7) 76 (13.5) 68 (11.9) 81 (13.5) 62 (11.8) 75 (13.1) 69 (12.1) 68 (11.7) 73 (13.7)
Other 8 (1.3) 0 (0.0) 4 (0.7) 4 (0.7) 3 (0.5) 5 (1.0) 7 (1.2) 1 (0.2) 2 (0.3) 4 (0.8)

6. Students' Level of Awareness of Archaeology

This study also assessed students' level of awareness of archaeology. Students were asked to express their feelings about the importance of archaeology in society and the role of government in preserving it. The survey included several questions in this respect: Why is archaeology important to your society? Do you think that students should study issues related to archaeology in school? Is the Kuwaiti government interested in maintaining archaeology? Did the government make a law about archaeology? Should the government make a special law to protect archaeological sites?

In response to the first question on how students view the importance of archaeology to their societies, the majority of students (40.0%) felt that archaeology is important for tourism, 25.3% believed that it symbolises pride in and deep roots of their society, 25.1% of them saw it as a tool for understanding the ancient and contemporary history of the world, and only 9.2% viewed archaeology as a mechanism of rapprochement of cultures with other nations.

Students' level of awareness of this issue varied based on their background. The data in Table 3 revealed that gender, parents' level of education, and school classification were significant variables in explaining the differences among students. The relationship between gender and students' views of archaeology was statistically significant, Χ2 (3, N= 1,125) = 27.0, p ≥ 0.05), indicating that males were likely to view archaeology as a source of tourism while females mostly focused on its cultural aspects. Mothers' and fathers' level of education were also significant factors (Χ2 (3, N= 1118) = 11.09, p≥ 0.05, and Χ2 (3, N= 1108) = 21.13, p≥ 0.05, respectively), where students whose parents had a high level of education were likely to appreciate the tourism aspect of archaeology as opposed to students with less-educated parents, who focused on the cultural components of archaeology. Students' level of awareness was also significantly influenced by school classification, Χ2 (3, N= 1,125) = 15.64, p ≥ 0.05, as students enrolled in schools located in well-to-do communities tended to value archaeology as a tourism opportunity more than those from schools in disadvantaged communities.

In reference to the second question assessing students' views on the importance of integrating archaeology into schools, the majority of respondents (60.7%) agreed that archaeology should be taught in schools. A statistically significant relationship was found between this variable and father's level of education, Χ2 (3, N= 1174) = 6.48, p ≥ 0.05); school classification, Χ2 (3, N= 1191) = 9.19, p ≥ 0.05); and archaeological site visit experience, Χ2 (3, N= 1157) = 23.90, p ≥ 0.05). Students enrolled in schools located in well-to-do communities and those whose fathers had a high level of education were more likely to see the importance of teaching archaeology materials in schools. Likewise, students with experience visiting archaeological sites supported the inclusion of archaeological materials in the school curriculum. As a result, students' awareness was associated with their socioeconomic background in terms of the level of education of their fathers, quality of communities, and visitor experience.

By exploring students' attitudes on whether or not the Kuwaiti government is interested in maintaining archaeological sites, the majority of students (55.3%) felt that it was not interested. Interestingly enough, the five independent variables were statistically significant on this question: gender, Χ2 (1, N= 1133) = 8.96, p ≥ .05); mother's and father's level of education, Χ2 (1, N= 1126) = 11.20, p ≥ 0.05 and Χ2 (1, N= 1,066) = 8.13, p ≥ 0.05, respectively); school classification, Χ2 (1, N= 1132) = 15.05, p ≥ .05); and visitation experience, Χ2 (1, N= 1102) = 5.55, p ≥ .05). As shown in Table 3, male students, students from educated families, students enrolled in schools in privileged communities, and those with visit experience were of the opinion that the government was not interested in maintaining archaeology.

As previously indicated, Kuwait has had a law on archaeology since 1960; however, few Kuwaitis are aware of this law owing to the fact that archaeology is not a popular issue in Kuwait, garnering less media coverage and hardly being mentioned in the educational system. When respondents were asked whether they were aware of the existence of this law, only 19.0% of students indicated they were while 21.8% indicated they were not. The overwhelming majority of students (59.2%) indicated that they were not sure or 'don't know'. In response to the question on whether the Kuwaiti government should make a special law to protect archaeological sites, the majority of students (77.9%) agreed. Table 3 shows that a statistically significant difference emerged between males and females, Χ2 (2, N= 1168) = 6.49, p ≥ .05), with males being more supportive of this special law than females. Students whose fathers were highly educated were more supportive of this law, Χ2 (2, N= 1150) = 6.48, p ≥ 0.05), than those whose fathers had little education. In addition, students who had a visit experience viewed this law as being more important than those who had no such experience, Χ2 (2, N= 1135) = 14.26, p ≥ 0.05).

Table 3: Students' level of awareness of archaeology
* P <0.05     ** P <0.01
Question Response Male (%) Female (%) Χ2 Mother Ed. Low (%) Mother Ed. High (%) Χ2 Father Ed. Low (%) Father Ed. High (%) Χ2 Sch. Id Low (%) Sch. Id High (%) Χ2 Visit No Visit Χ2
Why is archaeology important to your society? Tourism284 (46.0)170 (32.9) 27.0*205 (36.6)246 (43.2)11.09*205 (34.4)245 (46.8)21.13*200 (35.2)254 (44.7)15.64*237 (41.0)207 (39.2)3.41
Pride 149 (24.5) 136 (26.4) 155 (28.2) 49 (8.9) 128 (22.5) 158 (27.0) 122 (23.3) 145 (26.0) 140 (24.6) 152 (26.4) 124 (23.8)
Cult. rappr. 48 (7.9) 56 (10.9) 140 (25.5) 55 (9.7) 59 (10.1) 40 (7.6) 60 (10.8) 44 (7.7) 51 (8.9) 49 (9.4)
World hist. 128 (21.0) 154 (29.8) 140 (24.6) 163 (27.9) 116 (22.2) 152 (27.3) 130 (22.9) 136 (23.6) 140 (26.9)
Do you think that students should study issues related to archaeology in schools? Yes 399 (61.9) 324 (59.2) 0.86 367 (62.6) 120 (20.5) 352 (58.9) 1.97 361 (57.8) 354 (64.4) 6.48* 384 (64.6) 338 (56.6) 9.19* 408 (67.1) 292 (53.2) 23.90*
No 138 (21.4) 125 (22.9) 99 (16.9) 140 (23.4) 157 (25.2) 100 (18.2) 112 (18.9) 151 (25.3) 107 (17.6) 146 (26.6)
Not sure 108(16.7) 98 (17.9) 106 (17.7) 106 (17.0) 96 (17.5) 98 (16.5) 108 (18.1) 93 (15.3) 111(20.2)
Is the Kuwaiti government interested in maintaining archaeology? Yes 247 (40.6) 259 (49.4) 8.96* 274 (49.6) 228 (39.9) 11.20* 261 (43.4) 218 (46.5) 6.13* 285 (50.4) 221 (39.0) 15.05* 278 (48.1) 215 (41.0) 5.55*
No 362 (59.4) 265 (50.6) 278 (50.4) 346 (60.3) 337 (56.3) 250 (53.4) 280 (49.6) 346 (61.0) 300 (51.9) 309 (59.0)
Did the government make a law of archaeology? Yes 120 (19.4) 98 (18.5) 1.22 115 (20.5) 102 (17.6) 2.38 131 (21.7) 83 (15.8) 6.44* 119 (20.8) 99 (17.2) 2.44 145 (24.7) 65 (12.2) 30.09*
No 141 (22.8) 109 (20.6) 126 (22.5) 122 (21.1) 129 (21.4) 118 (22.4) 122 (21.4) 128 (22.3) 125 (21.3) 115 (21.7)
Not sure 357 (57.8) 322 (60.9) 320 (57.0) 355 (61.3) 344 (57.0) 325 (61.8) 330 (57.8) 348 (60.5) 316 (53.9) 351 (66.1)
Should the government make a law to protect archaeological sites? Yes 512 (80.6) 398 (74.7) 6.49* 433 (75.3) 470 (80.3) 4.35 460 (75.4) 437 (80.9) 6.09* 438 (75.6) 472 (80.1) 3.71 489 (82.3) 395 (73.0) 14.26*
No 50 (7.9) 49 (9.2) 53 (9.2) 45 (7.7) 62 (10.2) 36 (6.7) 52 (9.0) 47 (8.0) 41 (6.9) 56 (10.4)
Not sure 73 (11.5) 86 (16.1) 89 (15.5) 70 (12.0) 88 (14.4) 67 (12.4) 89 (15.4) 70 (11.9) 64 (10.8) 90 (16.6)

7. Students' Level of Interest in Archaeology

The third component of this study assessed the level of interest in archaeology among students. Two questions were asked in this area: Why are you interested in archaeology? Through what means do you prefer to learn about archaeology?

Interest in knowing about the history of the human past, ancient cultures, and history was the key reason for 33.9%, 31.5%, and 20.3% of students who wanted to be acquainted with archaeology, respectively. Solving mysteries in history was another reason, as 31.0% of students were curious about why certain mysterious things happened in history and how archaeologists explained them. For other students, 21.9% perceived archaeology as a tool linking the past with the present while 19.2% saw it as a mechanism for new discoveries. Some students provided less important reasons, such as the history of old things (15.5%), studying dinosaurs (11.8%), and excavation (5.2%).

Table 4: Students' interest in archaeology by socioeconomic background
Question Response Male (%) Female (%) Mother Ed. Low (%) Mother Ed. High (%) Father Ed. Low (%) Father Ed. High (%) Sch. Id Low (%) Sch. Id High (%) Visit No Visit
Why are you interested in archaeology? Human past 235 (36.9) 165 (30.4) 219 (37.8) 180 (30.4) 219 (35.5) 175 (32.2) 211 (35.9) 189 (32.0) 220 (36.5) 168 (30.9)
Hist. dinosaurs 79 (12.4) 60 (11.0) 52 (9.0) 87 (14.7) 66 (10.7) 72 (13.2) 64 (10.9) 75 (12.7) 68 (11.3) 66 (12.1)
Mysterious things 195 (30.7) 169 (31.1) 164 (28.3) 197 (33.3) 183 (29.7) 176 (32.4) 161 (27.9) 200 (33.9) 185 (30.7) 170 (31.3)
Ancient culture 220 (34.6) 150 (27.6) 203 (35.1) 165 (27.9) 198 (32.1) 167 (30.7) 189 (32.1) 180 (30.5) 180 (29.9) 175 (32.2)
History 140 (22.0) 98 (18.0) 121 (20.9) 115 (19.4) 124 (20.1) 110 (20.2) 127 (21.6) 111 (18.8) 134 (22.3) 97 (17.8)
Excavation practices 36 (5.7) 25 (4.6) 23 (4.0) 38 (6.4) 30 (4.9) 31 (5.7) 23 (3.9) 38 (6.4) 34 (5.6) 26 (4.8)
Linking past/modern 143 (22.5) 114 (21.0 123 (21.2) 131 (22.1) 129 (20.9) 123 (22.6) 30 (22.1) 127 (21.5) 140 (23.3) 110 (20.2)
Hist. old things 107 (16.8) 76 (14.0) 93 (16.1) 89 (15.0) 99 (16.0) 81 (14.9) 105 (17.9) 78 (13.2) 92 (15.3) 83 (15.3)
New discoveries 136 (21.4) 90 (16.6) 114 (19.7) 109 (18.4) 122 (19.8) 100 (13.4) 118 (20.1) 108 (18.3) 113 (18.8) 107 (19.7)
No interest 43 (6.8) 36 (6.6) 33 (5.7) 46 (7.8) 40 (6.5) 37 (6.8) 33 (5.6) 46 (7.8) 32 (5.3) 46 (8.5)

The previous responses were combined in Table 4, along with the students' socioeconomic background. On average, males showed more interest in archaeology than females in terms of their desire to know about the human past, ancient culture, history, linking past and present, and new discoveries. The impact of parents' level of education yielded similar results, as students with parents with a low level of education were more interested in archaeology as a tool to know about the human past, ancient culture, history, linking the past and the present, and new discoveries. Likewise, students who came from schools located in disadvantaged communities shared the same interests. Interestingly enough, students with highly educated parents and those from schools in well-to-do communities were interested in archaeology as a mechanism to solve mysterious things in history. Students with experience visiting archaeological sites and museums showed interest in archaeology only as a source of knowledge of the human past and linking the past with the present.

Table 5: Preferred means used by students to become acquainted with archaeology
Question Response Male (%) Female (%) Mother Ed. Low (%) Mother Ed. High (%) Father Ed. Low (%) Father Ed. High (%) Sch. Id Low (%) Sch. Id High (%) Visit No Visit
Through what means do you prefer to know about archaeology? Museum 344 (56.6) 286 (54.7) 305 (54.8) 319 (56.3) 334 (56.6) 284 (54.2) 320 (56.3) 310 (55.2) 338 (57.6) 274 (53.1)
TV/Radio 101 (16.6) 51 (9.8) 81 (14.5) 69 (12.2) 70 (11.9) 80 (15.3) 77 (13.6) 75 (13.3) 69 (11.8) 80 (15.5)
Internet 204 (33.6) 133 (25.4) 158 (28.4) 176 (31.0) 173 (29.3) 161 (30.7) 168 (29.6) 168 (29.9) 186 (31.7) 143 (27.7)
Newspapers 42 (6.9) 17 (3.3) 35 (6.3) 24 (4.2) 35 (5.9) 23 (4.4) 37 (6.5) 22 (3.9) 30 (5.1) 28 (5.4)
Travelling 186 (30.6) 174 (33.3) 169 (30.3) 189 (33.30) 183 (31.0) 170 (32.4) 159 (28.0) 201 (35.8) 199 (33.9) 152 (29.5)
Book/magazine 63 (10.4) 51 (9.8) 58 (10.4) 55 (9.7) 67 (11.4) 46 (8.8) 65 (11.4) 49 (8.7) 57 (9.4) 51 (9.9)
School 78 (12.8) 36 (6.9) 59 (10.6) 53 (9.3) 66 (11.2) 47 (9.0) 64 (11.3) 50 (8.9) 68 (11.6) 44 (8.5)
Films 159 (26.2) 116 (22.2) 129 (23.2) 145 (25.6) 132 (22.4) 141 (26.9) 127 (22.4) 148 (26.3) 143 (24.4) 124 (24.0)
General Forums 86 (14.1) 68 (13.0) 79 (14.2) 72 (12.7) 88 (14.9) 63 (12.0) 83 (14.6) 71 (12.6) 75 (12.8) 73 (14.1)
Library 75 (12.3) 34 (6.5) 51 (9.2) 58 (10.2) 59 (10.0) 49 (9.4) 52 (9.2) 56 (10.0) 59 (10.1) 49 (9.5)
Cult/hist. events 77 (12.7) 40 (7.6) 56 (10.1) 60 (10.6) 66 (11.2) 51 (9.7) 68 (12.0) 49 (8.7) 66 (11.2) 47 (9.1)
Other 5 (0.8) 1 (0.2) 4 (0.7) 2 (0.4) 3 (0.5) 3 (0.6) 4 (0.7) 2 (0.4) 2 (0.3) 3 (0.6)
Not interested 7 (1.2) 2 (0.4) 3 (0.5) 6 (1.1) 5 (0.8) 3 (0.6) 6 (1.1) 3 (0.5) 6 (1.0) 2 (0.4)

Table 5 shows the preferred means that students tended to use as a source of knowledge about archaeology. The majority of students (25.9%) preferred museums as their main source of information about archaeology, following by travelling to other countries (14.8%), using films (13.8%), and accessing the internet (11.3%). Students mentioned other sources, such as TV/radio (6.3%), general forums (6.2), cultural and historical events (4.8%), books and magazines (4.7%), school (4.7%), library (4.5%), and newspapers (2.4%). Schools were not a key source of information about archaeology for students.

8. Discussion and Conclusion

In assessing students' level of knowledge of archaeology, we found that the majority of students (67%) thought the word 'archaeology' related to history, heritage, and old cities. Furthermore, 53% of students felt that archaeologists should give what they find to museums, the government, or laboratories. Only 13% believed that archaeologists should keep archaeological artefacts for themselves.

The main difference among students in this area was found in their perceptions of the nature of the archaeologists' job. Students' gender, a high level of education of their mothers, and the location of their school (particularly in the high socioeconomic communities) were significant factors in determining their knowledge. The majority of students (56%) identified archaeologists' work as excavation, treasure hunting, and searching for human remains or lost cities. Living in well-to-do communities and coming from a family in which the mother is well educated affected students' knowledge of archaeology. The result of this study concurred with Bandura's (1976; 1977) social learning theory, in which he emphasised the influence of role models on students' attitudes and behaviour. Previous studies (Pokotylo and Guppy 1999; Ramos and Duganne 2000) similarly found that people with a high level of education are more knowledgeable about archaeology than people with less education. People often realise that archaeologists' work involves excavation.

With regard to students' level of awareness of the importance of archaeology, students' perceptions were divided into two viewpoints. Some students saw the importance of archaeology in terms of tourism business; others viewed it as a cultural matter reflecting their national pride, a tool for understanding the ancient and contemporary history, and a mechanism of rapprochement with other nations.

Data showed (Table 3) that male students whose parents had a high level of education and who came from well-to-do communities tended to value archaeological sites as a potential tourism attraction. In contrast, female students with less educated parents and those living in disadvantaged communities were likely to focus on the cultural importance of archaeology. It appears here that students' socioeconomic status plays a major role in determining their level of awareness. Their high socioeconomic status, ability to travel to other countries, and exposure to their heritage, all affect their judgment of the economic value of archaeological sites. This finding supports the results of previous studies (Abdelazim 2017; Al-Yasri 2012; Pokotylo and Guppy 1999; Ramos and Duganne 2000), where education is a significant factor affecting individuals' perspectives of archaeology as an important vehicle for understanding the past and present of the modern world.

Students' awareness was also measured by how important they perceived it to be to integrate archaeology into the school curriculum. Although 61% of the students felt that archaeology should be taught in schools, this result varied significantly according to the socioeconomic background of students and their archaeological site visit experiences. Students with highly educated fathers and those who came from schools located in privileged communities were more likely to support the notion that archaeological materials should be integrated into the curriculum. Furthermore, students who had previously visited archaeological sites were also interested in integrating archaeology into the school curriculum. Ramos and Duganne (2000) have demonstrated that the subject of archaeology should be taught as part of the school curriculum.

Personal exposure to archaeology through visits was also a significant factor in analysing whether or not students supported the integration of archaeological material into the school curriculum. Students with such a background favoured this teaching, given the fact that their personal experience of visits or observations affected their attitudes in appreciating the value of this cultural element. This was evident in Bandura's (1977) social learning approach as well as in some past studies (Savenije 2011; Eisenwine 2000; Gardner 1997; Grebin 2000; Levstik et al. 2003; Malof 2005).

The results of this study also found that gender (differences between males and females) is a key factor for analysing students' perceptions and awareness of archaeology. However, the findings contradict the results of previous research (Pokotylo and Guppy 1999; Ramos and Duganne 2000), which showed that females are more likely to believe that archaeology is important and worth studying than males. Females, more than males, also believed that students should study archaeology from kindergarten through fourth grade. This was not the case in the current study, which found that males were more knowledgeable about archaeologists' work than females, were more aware of the importance of archaeology, and had more interest in archaeology. This result could be attributed to the male-dominated nature of the Kuwaiti society. Given the secondary role of females in Kuwait, it is expected that females coming from low socioeconomic background and less-educated parents would have less interest and awareness of archaeology compared to males. In such a socio-cultural context, individuals learn their status and roles in the early stage of their childhood through their interaction with others. So, to understand gender as an arena of analysis we need to look at how our bodies are constructed as male/female within the social and cultural contexts that we occupy (Connell 2009). This has also been echoed by many sociological theories of gender that debated whether our identities are shaped by nature or nurture. Most of these theories hold that our identities are socially constructed as being male or female (Rahman and Jackson 2010; Giddens 2009; Holmes 2007).

This study also explored the attitudes of students in terms of whether they believed that the Kuwait government is interested in maintaining archaeological sites in the country. The majority of students showed negative attitudes, regardless of their socioeconomic background. Despite the fact that Kuwait enacted a law in 1960 to protect archaeological sites, the majority of students were not aware of this law owing to a lack of information presented in schools or via the media. However, when they were asked whether the government should enact a law to protect the archaeological sites, the overwhelming majority of them agreed. Those who agreed most were males with parents of high education and those with visitation experience.

Students' interest in archaeology was assessed by two questions: Why are you interested in archaeology? How did you learn about archaeology? In response to the first question, 17.3% of students felt the need to know the past of human beings, 15.7% to learn about mysteries, 16% to understand ancient civilization, 11% to connect the past with the present, and – to a lesser degree – to learn about history, excavations, dinosaurs, and new discoveries.

The second question regarded the means by which students learned about archaeology. The majority (26%) of students referred to museums. Others (15%) referred to travel and the internet and films (14% and 11%, respectively). Responses also varied to a lesser degree regarding media such as TV, radio, newspapers, books, magazines, general lectures, school library, and cultural events.

To conclude, knowledge of, interest in, and awareness of the importance of archaeology among people in any society is a product of the sociocultural context of these societies. If societies place a high value on archaeology through the key social systems (family, education, economy, legal, media, etc.), then we will find citizens appreciating this cultural element and making serious efforts to preserve and protect it (Marx et al. 2017). Concern about archaeology usually evolves through a long learning process. As indicated by Bandura (1977) in his social learning theory, the learning process usually takes place in a social context. Youth are the ones who mostly need to learn the significance of archaeology. This could happen through a long process of socialisation realised in the family and educational systems. The current study highlights the key determinants that affect Kuwaiti youths' attitudes toward archaeology. Students' socioeconomic status, measured by their parents' level of education and the type of community in which their schools were located, is critical in shaping their perceptions. Students with highly educated parents and those attending schools in well-to-do communities were more likely to be knowledgeable about, more interested in, and more aware of the importance of archaeology. Students with personal exposure to archaeology through visits to museums or historical sites were more interested in and concerned about archaeology than students with no such experience. As a male-dominated, patriarchal, and traditional society, Kuwait's male students showed more knowledge of, interest in, and awareness of archaeology than females. Kuwaiti students, in general, supported enacting laws to maintain and protect archaeological sites in the country.

Based on the findings of this study, we recommend that future research:

All in all, this study will serve as a starting point for future archaeological studies, particularly, in the Arabian Gulf region. Citizens of this region need to be well informed and knowledgeable about their rich archaeological heritage. Dissemination of this knowledge in society will serve as a mechanism in promoting archaeological awareness among future generations, developing archaeological programmes specifically designed for females, protecting archaeological sites, implementing archaeological laws, and promoting tourism to connect nations together culturally.


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