National Park Service
US Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Interpretive Development Program

Interpreting Archeological Resources

Competency Description

Archeology is the humanistic and scientific study of ancient, historic, and modern cultures. Interpretation provides opportunities to inform park visitors about how and what has been learned from archeological study concerning the ancient and/or historic past and what meanings and significance they hold for visitors in the present. Together, archeologists and interpreters can help to ensure protection of the archeological record for future generations.

Interpretation of the archeological record presents to the audience a variety of perspectives to reach a greater understanding and appreciation of past human behavior and activities. Archeologists and interpreters collaborate and use their knowledge and skills to create opportunities for the audience to form intellectual and emotional connections to the meanings and significance of the archeological records and the peoples who created them.

The shared competency does not replace the competencies for either field; rather it complements and expands basic competencies for archeologists and interpreters.

Competency Standards


For the archeologist, this module develops a basic foundation in the art and science of interpretation that can be refined throughout one's career. It addresses the archeologist’s obligation to provide public interpretation and education opportunities to the ever-increasing global visitor to ensure protection of America’s archeological record now and into the future.

This module provides a foundation and principals to help facilitate the visitors' intellectual and emotional connections with the meanings and significance of archeological resources and their stories.

Also addressed is the archeologist's responsibility, working with interpreters, to provide interpretation and education opportunities to increase public awareness and develop a constituency who desires to protect the archeological record of America's heritage.


For interpreters and education specialists, this module provides knowledge of basic archeological methods, techniques, and up-to-date interpretations of archeological data, as well as the basic relationships of archeological resource study and preservation to preservation laws. The interpreter must use this knowledge in preparing archeological programs to provide a cohesive presentation of relevant ideas and accurate information in order to maximize interpretive opportunities.

This competency was formerly known as Module 440.