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8 Helpful Tips to Remember While Visiting Ancient Sites

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The world is full of ancient history! Ancient ruins are everywhere in the six primarily populated continents. Follow these travel tips for visiting ancient sites and cultural heritage landmarks.

For instance, there are many ancient Roman sites in Europe. The Middle East also 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, which dates back to the early 7th Century.

To get the most out of visiting an ancient site, we have compiled some tips to consider during your travels. These tips will help you make memories, respect the site, and feel like you are a part of history.

Tips to Remember While Visiting Ancient Sites

1. Did You Bring Your Camera?

San Gimignano street scene with historic towers, terracotta buildings, and people walking on cobblestone paths
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Most ancient sites allow photography, but some places are sensitive and may not allow flash photography. If you bring your camera along, remember to disable the automatic flash that usually comes with lower and digital versions.

Leave it detached if you are old-school and still have the detachable flash. Using your manual settings, you can get good light exposure, even in low-light conditions, making the flash unnecessary. If you are still confused about what kind of photography is allowed at the ancient site you have chosen to visit, make sure to skip the flash to be safe.

Note: No matter what historical site you visit, always look for rules and regulations regarding photography policies, even if you are striking a pose for pictures.

2. Are There Any Traditions That You Should Follow?

Tips to Remember While Visiting Ancient Sites

Some ancient sites are blessed or ordained as holy sites. These may include churches, synagogues, mosques, and other traditional religious settings. Depending on the religion or faith involved, you should observe certain rituals, such as taking off your shoes or hat before entering the building.

Some cultures have specific restrictions on how to dress appropriately to enter a holy site. Additionally, there may be a few behavior restrictions enforced, such as keeping quiet while in the holy place or sanctuary. By respecting the culture you visit, you will see what ancient life was like there.

3. Are You Allowed To Touch That?

Tips to Remember While Visiting Ancient Sites

Many ancient sites are well-guarded to protect and preserve archaeological finds to the greatest extent possible. Some Roman sites, for example, may have fencing that prevents entry except with an authorized guide.

Other places may allow full access to the site but restrict you from collecting any artifacts. The bottom line is that you can admire the artifact from afar and not touch it, especially if it’s restricted. Cave art, hieroglyphics, and other forms of ancient art are fragile; all it could take is one touch to ruin the masterpiece.

4. Did You Grab Everything?

Tips to Remember While Visiting Ancient Sites

You should ensure that you bring whatever materials you carry to the site you visit with you. There is no better way to preserve an ancient site for others to enjoy.

Always remember that leaving materials like campfires, food, and trash can contaminate the site, making it more difficult for people to understand and learn the historical significance of artifacts.

5. Leave the Dog At Home, In the Car, or Somewhere Else

You might love your dog, but that beloved pet can quickly damage an ancient site. Though service dogs are usually an exception, most dogs, including purse dogs, are unwelcome because they might scratch or leave pet waste behind. Even if your pet wants to roll around in the dirt, it could dig the one spot with an undiscovered ancient artifact underneath it.

6. If the Dog Shouldn’t Dig, Then Neither Should You

Tips to Remember While Visiting Ancient Sites

A sense of adventure fills the human spirit when nothing else seems to work. 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 to find hidden ancient artifacts at a site could be a great idea as it may help archaeologists with their work. However, this can cause more unintended damage to the artifacts. Let the professionals do their work. Your job is to enjoy the experience and leave the archaeological materials undisturbed.

7. Does It Matter If You Take Something?

You may think, “If I just take one little thing as a souvenir of my trip, it won’t make much difference.” This would probably be right if you were to assume you are the only person who ever had that thought.

However, the problem comes when several people have that same thought every day and all attempt to take one little thing as a souvenir. Pretty soon, there will be nothing left to enjoy or study.

Additionally, this will ruin the experience for everyone else who wants to explore ancient sites in the future. Keeping beautiful memories of the ancient site can also act as a great souvenir, and photographs will help you recall those memories fondly.

8. Did You Find An Artifact?

Tips to Remember While Visiting Ancient Sites

Sometimes a visit to an ancient site may lead you to a great find. It could be a pottery shard, a petrified corn cob, or even a small figure of a goddess. When we find an artifact, we know we should not keep it but also want others to see it. For this reason, many people take these finds and pile them up in a specific place on the site.

It is crucial to remember that these artifacts can become a nice collection but may get exposed to several elements, quickly degrade, and lose whatever value they may have had. Therefore, if you 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!


Why is historic preservation important?

By practicing historic preservation, we can pass on our knowledge of the ancient world to future generations. Historic preservation helps tell the numerous facets of our world’s history and ancient sites.

What role do historical artifacts play in history?

Scholars who seek to study a culture can learn a lot from artifacts. Archaeologists explore the locations where ancient cultures once existed and use the artifacts to better understand the past.

What to know before visiting an ancient site?

It all depends on your interest in that specific place. If you enjoy exploring an ancient site to the fullest, you should find out the idea behind its construction, its construction period, and if there are other historical sites nearby. You can also check out the site’s visiting hours, entry fees, and additional information.

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  1. Graeme Sandlin says:

    Absolutely! Visiting a challenging site that requires some adventure always makes it that much more rewarding in the end!

  2. Carmen Edelson says:

    Thanks for the great tips. We visited Mesa Verde National Park a few years ago and enjoyed it. It was quite challenging getting to the sites but definitely worth it once we got there.

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