W1 Reflection Post

Prompt Part 1:

I have had a little introduction into archeology already as I took a cultural anthropology course last year and there was a short lecture on it. I actually did know archeology was the study of human culture through the remains that human civilizations leave behind. In the class, an archeologist talked about how she learned about a specific historical time period through the actual trash that people had thrown away. However, when I think about archeology, I still do imagine people digging up human remains from millions of years ago and using those remains to try to imagine what happened to a group of people or a civilization, even through I know this is rarely true.

Prompt Part 2:

In looking at the “Archaeology: A Journey into the Past” video about archeology along the Colorado River, a lot of details stood out to me that differentiated this type of archeology from earlier types of archeology that I read about in the readings. The video mentioned that a large difference in the archeology that is being done now in the Grand Canyon versus the archeology that was being done several decades ago is simply the purpose. In the first major archeological digs there, 40 some years ago, archeologists were just doing general research on the area as well as research on the Native American populations that had lived there for thousands of years. Now, however, the video mentioned how the excavation sites are for mainly protection and preservation. The video also mentioned that the National Park Service that oversees the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River had a policy of learning archeological sites untouched unless they are under direct threat, either from natural reasons or human intervention. The excavations that are being done recently have to do with sites of the Colorado River that were washing away.

Another difference that struck me in terms of modern and the early historical roots of archeology was the input that the archeologists asked for from the Native American groups in the region. In many of the readings about early archaeology, many archaeologists just went into a site wherever they wanted without any regard to who or what they might be disturbing. In the video, however, the archeologists took the time to actually ask Native American group members, who had lived on that land for thousands of years, where they could do their excavations.

Finally, I also noticed how these archeologists encouraged the participation of the public, by having them come out in rafts and look at the site themselves. Many early archaeologists did not do that, instead wanting to keep what they found for themselves, or only show it to other archaeologists. I think that this type of public archeology is important because it fosters an interest in archeology and the intimate ways its connected to the places in which we live.

This film is hugely different to depictions of archeology I have seen in media. Most of the movies that involve archeology that I have seen either involve the Egyptians or ancient civilizations such as Mayans. The movies that I have seen that involve archeology usually are extremely dramatic and involve life or death situations because of the digs that the characters do. Compared to those films this video is extremely tame and much less dramatic as well as a lot more informative as to how archeology actually works.

4 thoughts on “W1 Reflection Post

  1. I agree with a lot of things said here. I mentioned some of thee points in my reflection post. I like the detail of this reflection post. The organization is awesome as well. I think that we all at some point have pictured archaeologists digging up remains or some other form of bone. Your analysis of the video was pretty spot on and as i said earlier pretty detailed. I mentioned in my post how the media glorifies things and exaggerates most things, it was good to see someone agreed with that view. Overall This post was a joy to read.

  2. I think it is interesting that the amount of bone that I imagined archaeologist actually dug up is actually surprisingly smaller. I am currently taking a different anthropology course and to learn that the focus is more on the trash and the objects built by past peoples was fascinating. I also found the Grand Canyon video interesting by being an excellent example of what an actual real excavation site would look like. I think many images of archaeologists are depicted as one guy in the dirt digging by himself. When in reality it is now a site of interdisciplinary comradery to get a complete picture of the site that goes outside of archaeology. I think this important distinction is vital in comparing the past to present archaeological strategies. Also expanding beyond scientific fields and using help more local Native American tribes to truly understand a site from more than its facts.

  3. I completely agree with you when you thought that a big difference in archeological methods had to deal with the purpose behind it. I also thought your input about where archaeologists used to choose their excavation sites was interesting. The fact that they now communicate with the Native Americans in the area probably helps them out a ton, instead of just blindly picking a spot to start digging. Finally, I also think that archaeologists opening their excavation sites to the public is a huge morale boost for archaeology! It provides those interested with a hands on experience to see what archaeology is all about!

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