“An informed public caring about archaeology can play a significant role in protecting these sites. Poverty Point, for instance, was preserved because individuals in the local community recognized its significance and took steps to protect it.”
The inscription of Poverty Point on the UNESCO World Heritage List is the most significant achievement of my career, and one of which I am most proud. The World Heritage List recognizes properties of Outstanding Universal Value, vital for all humanity and deserving protection for current and future generations to study and enjoy. While I led the preparation of the record, the nomination dossier and associated efforts were collaborative. This intricate process took almost eight years, involving stakeholder meetings and building support, particularly from indigenous tribes, state and local officials, and the local community. Today, an annual “Poverty Point World Heritage Festival” celebrates the site, reflecting the success of the effort initiated when few people initially understood it.
The formal nomination dossier, requiring more than two years to complete, summarized decades of research by various archaeologists. As I reflected on this, I observed the significant changes in the field of archaeology, driven by technological advances and a robust conservation ethic. The archaeological research I and my colleagues conducted, using remote sensing, soil coring, and targeted excavation, represents the field’s shift toward gaining knowledge with less impact on cultural resources—a development that holds personal importance to m