Week 1 Reflection: Kasandra Purkey

Prompt 1:

For me archaeology is like a puzzle. The artifacts left behind are the pieces, they are used to create an image of what prehistoric peoples day to day life was like. The puzzles can vary depending on where you are in the world. Some puzzles are harder than others to piece together, but they all offer something new. It does not have to be an earth shattering secret discovery. It is the act of putting the puzzle together that should be exciting, like the journey being better then the destination. Waiting around hoping to make the biggest discovery is gonna be really boring and not very fulfilling.

Prompt 2:

Some main differences between past archaeology and present are intent, and the manner in which it is done, in the video using local tribes people to help understand the purpose of artifacts. In the past intent would be more personal, for glory, money, or your own personal collection. As we saw in the video not only is the Grand Canyon an active dig site but it is an active tourism site as well. By inviting anyone to come and visit the site not only helps them learn about the sites past but it also gives them a glimpse into the day to day activities that archaeologists perform. I think it is also much safer for the artifacts then in the past. Because the sites are in a national park the chances of them being looted or tampered with are definitely lower.  New technologies also make it safer to excavate without damaging the artifacts. The way the site is run is also more advanced then in the past, with detailed notes and drawings to help archive every aspect of the dig not just the artifacts. There is also the interdisciplinary aspect which would have been non-existent in the past. A modern site is more then a rich guy hiring cheap labor to move some rocks. There are geologists studying the layers of soil to get a date for the site, analyzing soil composition, and the materials used in artifacts. There are botanists searching for plant matter such as seeds to also help date the site.

Then there are the local tribes people who use there oral history and traditions to help the archaeologists actually understand the purpose of the artifacts they are finding. Before including this group would have been unheard of. How can you be smarter then these indigenous groups if you asked for help. Studying their past was not for their benefit. Now it is a help me help you scenario. As we watched in the video a Zuni  tribesman named Octavius Seowtewa describes this by talking about how his tribes oral history is almost a bad thing because it is just an oral history. But that working in excavation site he can see it and touch it and then preserve it for later generations to tie into their oral history. To me this is the most important part, this inclusion and preservation meant to help future generations. In the past this element is not represented very well.

2 thoughts on “Week 1 Reflection: Kasandra Purkey

  1. I definitely agree with you that the intent of archeological digs is very different now than what it used to be. Through most of history, many so called “archeologists” would do massive archeological digs but then just keep what they had found for themselves instead of sharing the knowledge of them with the public. I also really liked your point about how inclusion and preservation of sites for later generations is really the most important part of archeology now. I think that because so many important cultural artifacts have already been destroyed, it is important to safely keep the artifacts and locations we have left so we can share them with later generations.

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