Plimoth Patuxet Museums is known for its living history sites depicting the seventeenth-century Pilgrim settlement of Plymouth and the Wampanoag settlement of Patuxet. With the 400th anniversary of Mayflower’s arrival, the museum recommitted itself to presenting archaeology. Because of the challenges of publicly interpreting archaeology, the broad swath of time covered by archaeology, and the reality that most guests know little about either Indigenous history or archaeology, integrating archaeological programming into the living history format proved challenging, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. By employing a multipronged physical and digital approach, the authors have found some success in bringing a more nuanced understanding of archaeology to the institution’s stakeholders.
Archaeology in a New Light: Interpreting Indigenous History in Sea of Pilgrims
Ana C. Opishinski was the Digital Assets Project Manager for the Curatorial and Collections Department at Plimoth Patuxet Museums from 2019–21. She oversaw the cataloging and digitization of multiple legacy archaeological collections, wrote and created the online exhibit Echoes of the Ancestors, and helped develop educational programming around archaeology. Opishinski received her MA in Historical Archaeology from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2019. She is currently a field archaeologist at the Public Archaeology Laboratory.
Jade Luiz worked formerly as Curator of Collections at Plimoth Patuxet Museums where she managed the museums’ collections of seventeenth-century fine and decorative arts, archives related to Mayflower II, as well as the museums’ significant archaeological holdings. In 2020, she led the installation of Plimoth Patuxet Museums’ newest major exhibition, History in a New Light: Illuminating the Archaeology of Historic Patuxet and Plimoth. Luiz received her PhD from Boston University where she specialized in historical archaeology. She is currently assistant professor of anthropology at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Ana C. Opishinski, Jade W. Luiz; Archaeology in a New Light: Interpreting Indigenous History in Sea of Pilgrims. The Public Historian 1 November 2022; 44 (4): 147–168. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2022.44.4.147
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