Prompt Part 1:
When I put together the bits and pieces that I came into this class believing about archaeology, it mostly involved locations in the deserts of the Middle East with pyramids, sand storms, and ancient temples. I believed that archaeology involved quite a bit of digging up human remains and putting together skeletons to determine their origin and point of evolution. However, I was right in some aspects as I would say that my most accurate belief about archaeology is the fact that it’s about piecing together cultures to understand what they were like and how they have changed over time.
Prompt Part 2:
Using a modern day example of what archaeology truly looks like on the Colorado River, I can see vast differences in how it was done in the past according to our reading and lectures. The most important difference being the care and delicacy surrounding the excavation of these historical sites. The fact that the sites on the Colorado River were carefully watched and researched for fifteen years rather than bombarding right into the middle of it and tearing it all apart shows how far archaeology has truly come. In the past, people like Giovanni Belzoni would come across a site and excavate it in a matter of days, usually just digging right into the middle in search of the treasure and then abandoning every thing else. The archaeologists on the Colorado River only began excavation when it became evident that if they did not, the site would be washed away and all the historical evidence would be destroyed.
Another major difference, although related, is the way the data is collected and stored. Historical collectors and looters did not care to document their excavations, as they were in it for either the items or the money. Although some documentation was done in the past, modern day archaeologists put way more emphasis on it carefully account for every aspect of their excavation in an attempt to preserve the historical site further.
One difference that I am really happy to have seen occur in the video, is the fact that they brought in local people who are descendants of the people who created the sites in order to get their cultural input on the excavation process. I think that this is really important and unfortunately was not taken into account at all in historical methods of archaeology. Many cultures have strict guidelines on how to treat their ancestors remains and dwellings.
In regards to how archaeology is portrayed in media today, it is much different than in actuality. In movies we see intricately laid out booby traps that aim to kill the archaeologists at every turn and protect these massive treasures full of gold and jewels. Archaeologists are shown as some sort of warrior scientists that are capable of combating every obstacle thrown in their way, be that crazy animals or indigenous populations wielding swords and arrows. And the archaeological sites are a lot more preserved and clean of dirt and debris than in real life.