Mesa Grande opening up to visitors

One of the most significant Hohokam sites in Arizona is going to be open to the public, perhaps as early as next February. Mesa Grande was a political center that helped control an extensive network of irrigation canals in the Phoenix area more than 500 years ago.

Whenever an important archaeological site is open to visitors there are always concerns about possible damage, and I sympathize with those who want sites like this one to be protected. But education in archaeology is as necessary as investigation. If the findings of archaeologists are available only in the professional literature and never discussed outside the academy, then it becomes hard to see the point of doing it at all. In addition, funding for archaeology is very heavily dependent upon public interest. If enough people lose interest in understanding and preserving the past, archaeology will largely disappear, and antiquities protection laws will no longer be enforced.

Also, speaking purely for myself, I’m looking forward to seeing the place.

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