Archaeology's Dirty Little Secrets (Brown University - Coursera course)

Course description:
In this class, we will ask and answer a series of questions about the role and practice of archaeology in the world today. If archaeologists are trained to investigate the past, what is left for us to study? Who gets to be an archaeologist? How and why do archaeologists hunt for “treasures”, and what do we do once we’ve discovered them? Who pays for archaeological work? When did archaeology begin? What can we know, and not know, about people in the past? What do archaeologists know about the past that most people would never guess – and why aren’t we telling you? What is an archaeologist’s greatest fear? Why are people entirely willing to murder each other over the fate of archaeological sites? Are Real Men alone capable of discovering the truth behind all this?
Archaeology famously involves getting dirty in the line of duty. Students will experience its hands-on nature, through the use of numerous exercises and archaeological case studies. But there are other ‘dirty little secrets’ to learn about the field: not least how the stories archaeologists tell about the past have been used and abused, for purposes both good and bad. Our goal by the end of the course is to have you ‘thinking like an archaeologist’ and fully aware of the often-fraught politics of doing archaeology around the globe.