PROMPT 1: Having taken some anthropology courses in the past, I came into this course with an understanding of what archeology and its purpose. However, it is difficult for myself, and I would imagine many others, to shake the false images and stories we have been fed on archeologists. These come mostly from media and unfortunately, this is the common form of exposure to this field that we have received. When I first learned and witnessed what the actual field of archeology looked like and the real process by which they carry out their work, I found a greater respect for them. I no longer thought of them as treasure seekers or as working for some self gain, but for being key players in our ability to see into the past, respect the work prior civilizations achieved, and be better as a society today because of those things.
PROMPT 2: In the short film about archeologists along the Colorado River, you can really get a feel for what modern day archeology looks like and how it is put to use. The most notable difference between the practices of modern day archeologists, featured in the video, and the original methods of archeology is the purpose. In the film, archeologists are working side by side with Native Americans with ties to the particular area being studied. The archeologists recognize that the Native Americans’ culture lies in the artifacts and remains that they are uncovering in the Grand Canyon area, and are not only respectful of that, but interested in the information that they may gain from them regarding the discoveries. Prior archeology did not focus on the preservation of history and culture in the same fashion as today. The archeologists of the past were concerned with seeking and obtaining artifacts from earlier times, and less so with learning and preserving information from past people and cultures. Even the techniques featured in the film, and used today in this field, are vastly different from old archeology techniques. The process by which archeologists uncover items and manage the site they are working in is remarkably careful and respectful to the site. In the past, fewer caution was taken and in some cases, sites and artifacts were not tended to properly or even destroyed. Additionally, archeologists of the past were not motivated by the desire to get to know better the cultures that preceded them, but to obtain items and either add them to their collections or sell them for profit. There is a far more intense respect from modern day archeologists that is not seen in the complete history of archeology, that is now a defining characteristic of all archeologists and the work they do.
In some popular media, archeology jobs are portrayed as high action and life-threatening. “Archeologists” are seen jumping over large canyons, swimming in ancient underwater hazardous waters, or even fighting off ancient mystical creatures that they have woken up from their frozen state (Indiana Jones). Contrarily, archeologists job consists of almost none of these activities and there is far less high-risk action taken in their daily lives. Site excavation is usually a slow and technical operation and is not usually full of massive thrills. There is less danger involved in the real-life scenario of archeological work, and outrageously wild discoveries are not made on a daily basis.