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The Public Benefits of Archaeology According to the Public

Monique H. van den Dries

Cite this as: Van den Dries, M.H. 2021 The Public Benefits of Archaeology According to the Public, Internet Archaeology 57.


Lady with Roman leg tattoo
Perhaps this lady does have a personal attachment to archaeology

While the knowledge creation benefits of archaeology are widely understood, there is less awareness or assessment of other potential benefits. These can be associated with wellbeing and health, including mental health. These are significant given that archaeology is a creative and outdoor activity with the potential to enhance social bond through collaborative working. Using data from the NEARCH survey of 2015, this paper seeks to encourage wider participation in archaeology, enabling much more public benefit to be realised.

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  • Keywords: public survey data, impact measurements, development-led archaeology, public benefits, wellbeing
  • Accepted: 6 Jan 2021. Published: 17 Mar 2021
  • Funding: The publication of this article is funded by the European Archaeological Council.
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Corresponding author: Monique H. van den DriesORCID logo
Leiden University

Full text

Figure 1: The NEARCH survey (e.g. Martelli-Banégas et al. 2015) demonstrated that many European citizens link archaeology to a remote past and do not feel a strong 'personal attachment' to it. However, when they can participate in activities like an art competition, they do so massively and subsequently report positive personal (wellbeing) benefits. The photo of the tattoo was submitted to the art&archaeology contest. Wearing such a tattoo suggests this lady does have a personal attachment to archaeology. (Photo courtesy: Charline Meyer-Vasseur, France)

Figure 2: Impacts on positive emotions (in weighted average) as reported by 87 survey respondents during a visit to a Neolithic house reconstruction in a horticultural show (Boom et al. 2019, 40)

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