Last updated on September 6th, 2016
The world is filled with plenty of ancient history. Just about everywhere you turn, on the 6 primarily populated continents, there are ancient ruins that you can see. Europe has many ancient Roman sites. The Middle East has sites that date past Biblical times, as does Asia. In the United States, you can visit ancient tribal sites, such as Mesa Verde National Park that dates as far back as the early 7th century.
To get the most out of visiting an ancient site, we’ve put together some tips for you to consider during your travels that will help you make memories, respect the site, and feel like you’re truly part of history.
8 Helpful Tips to Remember While Visiting Ancient Sites:
#1: Did You Bring Your Camera?
Most ancient sites allow for photography, but some sites are sensitive and therefore don’t allow for flash photography. If you did bring your camera, remember to disable the automatic flash that comes standard on many of today’s lower end digital versions. If you are old school and still have the detachable flash, just leave it detached. Using your manual settings, you can get good light exposure, even in low lighting conditions, which makes the flash unnecessary anyway.
If you have any questions about what kind of photography is allowed at the ancient site you’ve chosen to visit, just skip the flash to be safe.
#2: Are There Traditions That Should Be Followed?
Some ancient sites are actually blessed or ordained as a holy site. This could include churches, synagogues, mosques, and other traditional religious settings. Depending on the religion or faith involved, there may be certain rituals, such as taking off your shoes or hat before entering the building, that should be observed. Some cultures have specific restrictions on how you may be dressed to enter a holy site and there may also be behavior restrictions that are enforced [i.e. keeping quiet while in the holy place, sanctuary, and so forth].
By respecting the culture that you’re visiting, you’ll get a small glimpse of what ancient life was like.
#3: Are You Allowed To Touch That?
Many ancient sites are preserved so that archeological finds can be preserved to the greatest extent possible. Some Roman sites, for example, may have fencing around them that prevents entry into the site except with a specific guide. Other sites may allow full access to a site, but restrict you from collecting any artifacts. The bottom line is this: if you don’t need to touch it, then don’t touch it. Cave art, hieroglyphics, and other forms of ancient art are extremely fragile and all it could take is one touch to ruin that ancient masterpiece.
#4: Did You Grab Everything?
Whatever you brought into the site that you’ve visited should also be coming out with you. There is no better way to preserve an ancient site for others to enjoy.
#5: Leave the Dog At Home, In the Car, or Somewhere Else
You might love your dog, but that beloved pet can do a lot of damage to an ancient site very quickly. Though service dogs are usually an exception, most dogs [including those dogs that ride in a purse]are not welcome because of the possibilities of scratching or leaving presents abbreviated by #1 or #2. Even if your pooch just wants to roll around in the dirt, they could end up choosing the one spot that has an undiscovered ancient artifact underneath it.
#6: If the Dog Shouldn’t Dig, Then Neither Should You
A sense of adventure fills the human spirit like nothing else seems to be able to do. It affects us to our very core because it is exciting to discover new things or rediscover parts of our past. That urge can make it seem like digging on your own for ancient artifacts at a site could be a great idea because you’d be helping archeologists with their work. Unfortunately more damage tends to occur to artifacts when this happens, though unintended, then anything else.
Let the professionals do their work. Your job is to enjoy the experience and wonder that all ancient sites bring to us as much as possible.
#7: Does It Matter If You Take Something?
A common thought is “Well… if I just take one small, little thing as a souvenir of my trip here, it won’t be missed.” That’s probably true assuming that you were the only person who ever had that thought. The problem comes when several people every day have the same thought and they all attempt to take one small, little thing as a souvenir. Pretty soon there’s nothing left to enjoy or study and that ruins the experience for everyone else in the future.
Memories are a great souvenir too and photographs can help you recall those memories quite fondly.
#8: Did You Find An Artifact?
Sometimes a visit to an ancient site leads to an amazing find. It could be a pottery shard, a petrified corn cob, or even a small figuring of a goddess. When we make such an amazing find, we know we shouldn’t keep it… but we also want other people to see it too. For that reason, a lot of people tend to take these finds and pile them up in a specific place in the site. These “Museum Sites” can quickly become a nice collection, but is one that is exposed to the elements, can quickly degrade, and lose whatever value they may have had.
If you do find something that you feel is amazing, contact an official at the site and let them know where you found the object. Let them handle the rest of the work!
What Ancient Sites Are You Planning To Visit?
The ancient civilizations may have left traces of their culture behind, but that doesn’t mean we should leave our traces behind as we explore how our ancestors lived and worked. Ancient sites are filled with wonder and majesty as the grandeur of humanity is displayed in the buildings and ruins, so be sure to take these tips into consideration as you travel so that everyone can create wonderful memories like you’re about to do!