In South Asia, local communities most often live near or amidst archaeological places. Their lives are in many ways framed and structured by these places. At the same time, these places too are impacted by the communities that live nearby. Archaeological sites in India are being destroyed at a rapid pace, due to increasing population and development pressures. This story gets further complicated by legislative practices of preservation related to monuments and archaeological sites, which are solely in the hands of the state through its institutions. It is this very act of protection that sometimes leads to conflict between the institutions of the state and local communities. At the same time, several archaeological sites have also survived due to local interests because they have been transformed into ritual spaces or are considered as ancestral places. Additionally, monuments have been converted into heritage hotels and have become an important means of livelihood for the families that own them. Thus, for protection to succeed, the critical intervention and involvement of local communities living in close proximity to monuments and archaeological sites is fundamental. Is it then education that can enable the survival of archaeological places? School education has the scope of involving and alerting children to their environs, whether it is the natural environment or a built one, and this could be a long-term solution. © The Author(s) 2019.