Prompt Part 1:
I first became fascinated with archaeology when I was introduced to Pompeii from my fifth grade teacher. She had studied there. I was hooked from that point forward. I took every advantage I could to learn more about the field. I attended an Archaeological Field School where we were on a site that was part of the Anasazi homelands in the Four Corners region of the United States. With this background, I came to this course with a bit of a knowledge base and few preconceived ideas of that archaeology is. I am excited about is to learn about newer techniques and processes that have come in to practice in the last twenty years.
Prompt Part 2:
The modern archaeological project that was done at the Grand Canyon, along the Colorado River embodies careful forethought and planning to have a successful site excavation. The National Park Service did long term studies to determine vulnerable sites that should be excavated due to the accelerated rate of erosion occurring. Once the determination was made to do the excavation, they worked with the local Native American Tribes to use their knowledge base and also to find out any questions they would like to try to see answered by doing these excavations. Having locals on site became a valuable tool because there were times when an artifact would be uncovered and perhaps one of the tribe’s members would remember seeing one of those objects at their grandmother’s house. Additionally, the public were invited to view the sites. I believe this to be greatly valuable because it draws tangible awareness to the types of projects that are ongoing. Artifacts were meticulously cataloged and collected. There were many artifacts that were packed away for further curation that was to take place at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Once all was excavated, these sites were back filled and anti-erosion measures were taken in an attempt to help preserve these sites for as long as possible.
These modern archaeological techniques are a bit different from the earliest days of archaeological excavations. The early days saw carelessness when retrieving artifacts, little attention was paid to how and where the artifacts were found. There often weren’t any attempts made to receive input from local peoples to gain permission or knowledge about the sites.
I love Indiana Jones. He portrays a ruggedly handsome, whip toting, gun toting, adventure filled man. While his quest for artifacts and antiquities (as he and his fellow museum colleagues call them) are because, “It belongs in a museum.”, there is very little archaeology going on. Even when he is searching for the famed Ark of the Covenant, the Ark is clandestinely recovered in the span of one night. Contrast this example with the water bottle toting, sun screen toting, dirt laden people taking part in the excavations on the Colorado River. There it may have taken a couple of days to recover a simple clay pot from its resting place. They would be dry screening the buckets of dirt that have been collected instead of worrying about gun toting treasure hunters.