When Chuck Yeager, the pilot who broke the sound barrier,
was asked why he could fly so well, he replied that it might be
because he was first and foremost an engineer. By understanding
thoroughly the design and construction of the aircraft he flew,
he could pilot his vehicle better than anyone else. He knew the
characteristics and capabilities of each system in his aircraft.
Because of this, he could fully understand the importance of the
information provided to him by instruments that monitored system
status and performance. He could, therefore, deploy the controls at
his disposal in a highly effective way.
Managing a fragile archaeological or historic site
in a world, where development, increasing pressure from international
tourism, looting, and inadequate budgets are common, is a challenge
that rivals piloting an experimental aircraft in difficulty. Success
requires understanding the components and characteristics of the
systems that make up the site, establishing monitoring instruments,
and putting in place effective controls. Cultural Site Research
and Management (CSRM) assists site managers by inventorying natural
and cultural resources and by evaluating them in terms of their
position in ancient cultural systems and current social and economic
systems. It designs and sets in place monitoring instruments and
the controls by which an archaeological or historic site can be
managed to protect site resources, greatly enhance experience of
visitors to the site, and maximize social and economic benefits
to local communities and other stakeholders.
Douglas Comer is Principal of CSRM. For two decades,
he was chief of the National Park Service Applied Archaeology Center,
which conducted a great many archaeological investigations associated
with historic landscape and structure restoration projects. Dr.
Comer is author of Ritual Ground, a book that examines how humanly
contrived landscapes convey, and sometimes reformulate, culture. He
is also a former Fulbright scholar in cultural resource management.