W1 Reflection Post

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.

5 thoughts on “W1 Reflection Post

  1. Your first prompt really hit it on the head; I’ve also taken ANP courses in the past which gave me the briefest of overviews on what archaeology really is. However, as you said, it really is still hard to forget the images that pop culture has put into our heads: the overkill pictures of some sexy, adventurous world-traveler who goes through overly dangerous situations to retrieve some lost treasure from the past. Whereas, in real life, archaeologists are just REAL people trying to rediscover something, anything, from our ancestors in order to simply learn more about how humans lived or survived, preserving cultures, as well as preserving the Earth while they’re at it.

  2. Although I haven’t taken any previous ANP courses before this, I had an idea that the “Indiana Jones” version of an archaeologist is not a realistic version. But I didn’t know that archaeologists worked in ordinary areas like MSU’s campus and that they searched for things other than ancient remains. I agree that it makes it hard for people to understand what an archaeologist actually is, when the media portrays them as something inaccurate. Unless someone takes a course or has the opportunity to see the works of archaeologists in real life, many are ignorant. That’s why I think it’s great that in the film, the team teaches tourists what they do and why.

  3. I agree with your opinion in that modern archaeology treated past cultural information differently compared to early historical roots of archaeology. I also mentioned in my reflection post that the approach used by modern archaeologists is more toward observation and preservation. However, early archaeologists just seeking the artifacts either for their own collections or sell them for profit.

    I like the last points where you mentioned about Indiana Jones movie because I did not notice about that when I was writing my reflection post. In my mind, I just came up with a depiction of archaeological work such as in history books, which is the same with the one has been shown in the short film we just watched. But, I think that is a good point because in some movies, there are details that actually does not really apply in the real life or does not even make literal sense.

  4. Everyone is talking about how the modern day archaeologists are focused more on preservation and research, but you also brought up a very valid point about bringing the actual culture into archaeology. It is clear that these modern archaeologists are in fact looking for more public input and focusing more on the local people who have vital information for the historical site. Aside from that i really loved your indiana jones reference. I didn’t even think about the fact that most archaeologists are pretty much depicted as a watered down version of that movie. In reality archaeologists aren’t like that at all. They care about the dig sites and preservation rather than not compared to the old days.

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