Archaeological sites are important testaments of our past but are also popular tourist spots that help the surrounding community. However, the increasing traffic in some of the delicate sites have caused damage, with some tourists going so far as to vandalize important artifacts.
Here is a list of dos and don’ts when visiting archaeological and heritage sites.
Do Not Climb on the Walls or Statues. It’s been done by rowdy tourists before just to get awesome photos to post on social media. But is it really worth damaging a structure that’s older than you for a photo that will be ignored after a day?
Do Not Leave Signatures. Some tourists want to leave their mark on the site (besides garbage) by writing on the walls or structures, but doing so will probably get you in jail if you get caught. Besides, why would you want your name on an object you didn’t make?
Do Not Take Artifacts. Looting and destruction of historical sites by terrorists resulted in loss of important information that could have filled out blanks in our history. Do not add to the problem by taking samples of the site you can show to your friends.
Do Follow Rules. Archaeological and heritage sites are not places for picnic or playing around, that is why you should be mindful of the rules when touring, such as the use of flash photography, which areas are not accessible, and which items you’re allowed to touch. Some sites require specific clothing and footwear before you are allowed to enter. Do not take this as an infringement of your rights, but as proper form and respect for a culture that is older than you.
Do Avoid Touching Walls and Objects. Although some sites managed to survive for thousands of years, it doesn’t mean they are indestructible. Some rocks from which walls and columns are made can degrade over time when kept in constant contact with body oils and chemicals. Pictographs and petroglyphs can be erased if handled frequently by thousands of tourists.
Do Teach Your Children Respect. Heritage sites are not playgrounds, but it’s a great learning experience for children who are interested in history and culture. Teach your children to respect rules, not to talk loudly, and not to touch or steal anything. Children could also easily get injured when exploring delicate structures, so keep a close eye on them.
Do Pay Your Fees. The fees can help local preservation efforts and keeping the site open for more tourists. You should also support local and legitimate businesses in the surrounding community to help the locals.
Do Your Business Away from the Site. If you need to use the bathroom, go to designated restrooms away from the sites. You should not leave human waste, urine, toilet paper, and other debris in the area.