When Chuck Yeager, the pilot who broke the sound barrier, was asked why he could fly so well, he replied that it was 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 protected area 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. Currently, he is President of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) United States National Committee 


and President of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committe on Archaeological Heritage Management (ICAHM)