Confidentiality of Site Locations vs Public Interpretation

John McCarthy's picture

Archaeologists, having seen lots of destruction of sites due to looting, some of a commercial (rather than hobbyist) scale, tend to want to hold all information about archaeological sites (location, contents, etc.) as confidential, actually, as secret.  While this is somewhat understandable, this presents a significant challenge to public education and interpretation on archaeologial topics where often “place” and site content are key aspects of a site’s interpretive value.

I would very much like to hear from others in the cultural heritage field about how they view this conflict and what policies, if any, their organizations pursue in dealing with these concerns.

While I am hoping for a lively conversation on the H-Material-Culture list, comments sent to me directly are welcome.  I can be reached at or

John P. McCarthy, RPA

Delaware State Parks