To me archaeology is a way to learn what it means to be human: what we have done, what we have accomplished and how we have behaved. Archaeology is not incredibly distant from my field of study, psychology. When I entered this class I thought we would explore a little into the minds of past people. I know we got to learn about the life of the Mississippians but it was not what I was thinking. I know this is an introductory class and there is a lot of focus on methods and maybe a higher level class would look at psychological archaeology. However, I get the feeling that archaeology is about investigating the actions and behaviors of past people through the material they left behind and thinking deeper may be too speculative.
I now know that there is a branch of archaeology that studies still living societies but I think archaeology is also an important way of discovering, learning and remembering the past, this is the very reason we have museums and historical sites. When we do not investigate and remember the past, people can form misconceptions of events and who we were. One of the things I love learning is just how intelligent humans were and all the amazing things humans have accomplished. Additionally, one should also remember all the not so glamorous things, which put our current society in perspective when places like the news say how violent/dangerous the world is today.
After taking this class I learned that European archaeology is based in history and American archaeology is based in anthropology. I know I am biased because I am an American and I have taken this class here but I think archaeology should be based in anthropology. History has its merits but what is really interesting is learning about humans. Perhaps it does not go as far as I would like it to, but I think archaeology is a way of learning what it means to be human.
At the beginning of this semester, I was unsure whether or not I made a good choice by taking archaeology as an IAH substitution. Since I’m a business student, anthropology is pretty far removed from my normal field of study, but I soon learned that archaeology is very interesting and equally as important to our society. Coming into the class, I knew very little about archaeology and it’s importance, but after this class, I feel like I have a much better appreciation for the work done by archaeologists. When I first thought about archaeology, I could only think about finding old bones and various artifacts. This class showed me that archaeology is much more than finding objects, but rather using the objects to tell a story about the past.
To answer the question, “why does archaeology matter to me?,” I guess I would say that it is for the same reason that it should matter to all of us. We can all learn a great deal from our past. Understanding how the human race progressed over time can give us key insight into what the future holds. On a more personal level, archaeology matters to me because I think it’s extremely important to protect cultural heritage, which is one of the main concerns of archaeologists. I think if no one cared about preserving the physical evidence of our activity, our story as a society would be lost forever, only to be a mystery for future generations.
Another reason why archaeology matters to me is because archaeology is happening all around us, whether we realize it or not (even on campus at MSU!). Whenever construction starts, archaeologists have to make sure that there isn’t any threat of material culture being destroyed. Even when farmers are out plowing their fields, they could come across an artifact, and with their cooperation, archaeologists can examine the site and document the find. Since archaeology is happening all around us, it only makes sense that we should understand the significance of archaeologists’ work.
I’m glad I took this class, as it has opened my eyes to the role we (the public, as well as archaeologists) play in preserving, documenting, analyzing, and understanding our ancestors’ way of life.
What does Archaeology mean to me? Well, it is meaningful to me for a few reasons. The first reason is that it relates to my ideal career, and the second reason is that Archaeology preserves culture, and will eventually preserve the things that shaped my way of life.
I mentioned earlier on in the year that I wanted to become a 3D environment artist for video games. From studying archaeology, I now feel that the environments I create will be more than a place for the player to move through. I will be sure to develop them so that they have their own story and culture. With my new knowledge, I will place objects strategically to create relationships between them. All of the objects I place in an environment will come together to tell a story to the player. Some may think that these minor actions don’t mean much, but these small details will deliver a stronger story to the player. My favorite game Demon’s Souls does this very well with their environments, and it is that game that inspired me to be a game developer.
Archaeology is also meaningful to me because it is preserving the thing that makes us all human, and that is culture. This is one of the reasons why Archaeologists work so hard to protect sites and artifacts for groups of people. People have emotional attachments to certain sites and artifacts because they defined who they are as a group of people, and they like to be reminded of past traditions. I know personally that I have attachments to certain artifacts and sites, such as Michigan State University. In the future I would like to see these preserved because they made me who I am today. Archaeology is deeper than just a field in science. It helps advance society by studying past society’s mistakes, and it also helps people today on a more emotional level, which other sciences do not.
At the beginning of the semester, I admit I was one of those individuals who thought that archaeology involved dinosaurs, treasure hunts, and just museums. I thought that archaeology was all about the objects- I knew that these objects were used to study human culture, but I thought that the objects were the main focus. Like a lot of other people in this class, I took this class as an IAH substitution. My interest for anthropology was sparked last semester when I took a class on sociocultural diversity. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and it really broadened my perspectives on different societies, cultures, etc. and so I decided to sign up for another anthropology class and I’m really glad I made that decision!
Before taking this class, I always associated the sciences with chemistry, biology, etc. and never really thought any other subjects fit into this- boy was I wrong! I think a fundamental part of archaeology is that it is a science- it is ever changing. Science is a process of understanding the world around us through logical thought. This of course encompasses archaeology where the scientific method is used and inductive/deductive reasoning. Personally, learning to appreciate archaeology as a science definitely made me appreciate archaeology better as a whole. Another fundamental part of archaeology is that it is about the context of artifacts, not just the artifacts themselves. This was one of the misconceptions I had coming into the class. With archaeology, you only have one shot- archaeology is destructive. Since archaeology is all about the context of these objects, once you take that object out of its context it is in a way meaningless. What do you learn from the context of the artifact? You learn about past people, societies, and culture.
At the beginning of the semester, I admit I was not really looking forward to the blog posts. After a couple weeks though, I found myself learning all kinds of ways that archaeology affects the world. I learned about migrations of prehistoric humans relating to the deaths of prehistoric giant animals, the plague, that a timeline being changed due to Egyptian inscriptions of weather on a stone, and much more! I think a big part I learned about archaeology and how it is important to me is that archaeology is that it is a very broad study that works with many different domains to learn about past human culture (they work with geneticists, historians, geologists, etc). Overall, this class definitely made me understand the importance of archaeology!
It was once said, “Study the past if you would define the future.” Confucius said that. In order to understand ourselves and what we may become we have only to look at our past. In our past we identify the pinnacles as well as the pitfalls of human society, it is only through thorough analysis can we identify means of jumping over these pitfalls and scaling these pinnacles. This is precisely what the study of archaeology provides. The study of our past allows us to determine reasonable actions in the present in order to ensure the stability of our future. The act of reflection is one of many characteristics which differentiate the best from the public. It enables one to make well-informed decisions. If we do not know what our history is, then we tend to repeat it, making the same exact mistakes as our ancestors. Archaeology provides a snapshot of history and allows us to make assumptions as to the surrounding external stimuli and what decisions may have led to the expressed phenomenon. Archaeology in conjunction with history, provides evidence and the surrounding conditions that have led to the death of the particular organism.
Essentially, the study of archaeology allows us to reflect on our past and serves as an avenue in which the human history can be easily communicated to the general public, via the engaged archaeology sub discipline. Without the study of archaeology, there would not be any evidence to support what historians teach us. With this evidence, (provided by archaeology) the general public is more apt to believe what historians project as well as generating interest. This in turn prompts the general public to take more initiative and research these discoveries themselves, learning more about our past. It is as Winston Churchill once said, “The farther backward you are likely to look, the farther forward you are likely to see”
Before I took this class, I had very little knowledge about archaeology. All I had seen of archaeology was the artifacts already in museums, movies, and one time I walked by some archaeologists at work in Fort Mackinac. I had no idea what they did beyond dig in the ground and look for artifacts. I thought the point was to find the most exciting, rarest, most valuable artifacts.
Now I realize archaeology is about so much more. We can learn as much or more from the everyday objects, the projectile points that tell us how people hunted, the pottery that tells us how they ate, the foundation that tells us how they lived, and the grave that tells us how they died. Archaeology is about the everyday people, the average person. It is about their culture and everyday life. History focusses on the big picture, the leaders, the wars, the changes. Archaeology goes beyond the history to tell the story of the everyday person. That is why it is so important.
Another reason archaeology is so important is that it is destructive. It has to be done right the first time. There is no second chance. If a site is not excavated, documented, and researched to the fullest extent the first time, important knowledge can be lost. This is not true with other sciences. Experiments can be repeated, procedures can be changed, new technology used. In archaeology that is not possible. Another problem with archaeology is that it relies on things that have already happened. There is a limited amount of artifacts that can be found from a specific time and place. Archaeologists often have to fight against development, conflict, and even natural disasters to preserve and protect artifacts. This makes archaeology so important. After taking this class I now understand what archaeology is and how it is so much more than just digging for treasure. Although I have no plans to become an archaeologist, I will always remember how archaeology is responsible for so much of what we know about the past.
As a future teacher who has taken this class, I have really seen the importance of archaeology from a curriculum standpoint. I feel that archaeology and the discovery that is connected to it can be something to integrate into my future lessons no matter what the subject may be. When I was working on my Engaged with Archaeology project for this class, I found so many archaeology lessons that went way beyond teaching social studies curriculum standards. The archaeology was able to seamlessly integrate its way into lessons in science, the environment, and even math! I find that this sort of topic, that can be so easily assimilated into lessons to help students enjoy learning, is something that I must keep in my teaching arsenal.
In addition, as a teacher, I see the importance of how information is obtained and presented as being an important part of how people think and feel about certain things. For example with pseudo-archaeology, people are convinced of the truth based on the fantastical mystery shows that are on TV. In my classroom, I must move away from these things, and make sure to focus on facts. I will still have fun of course, but the truth and real archaeology can be fun and mysterious, but in a better way because it is based on scientific data that makes it true.
Lastly, just as a human being in general, archaeology matters to me. I have always found the study of the past to be so interesting, but this class also taught me that archaeology is the study of the past and present. Through archaeology, we are able to learn about what we did, so we do not do it again. In addition, we are able to gain a greater understanding of what our past was. Learning about what the world was like (in a truthful way) is something so fun and exciting to me, and I would love to continue my education with some more archaeology classes to see how I can be involved in these findings in the future.
Archaeology matters to me because I am a criminal justice major, and there are many legal matters involving archaeological artifacts, such as looting, enforcing federal laws, etc. Coming into this class I did not have a great understanding of what archaeology really was, I had never taken the time to learn about it or why it mattered. I thought it was mostly just a lot of interesting and fun artifacts, but they weren’t too important to our current society. I did not realize the difficulties that came along in the archaeological process or how involved archaeologists were in the various projects that the government wanted to complete. Also, I did not realize how seriously the laws were enforced, in regards to what is required to perform an archaeological dig. The Archaeological resources prevention act (1970), is an act that was discussed in class that really enlightened me to the importance of enforcing the permits required for obtaining artifacts at an excavation site. This is an interesting topic for me because it shows how archaeology begins to interact with other aspects of society. Archaeology is involved in many aspects of society, and many times this is overlooked part of the subject.
Archaeology is important because by learning about past societies, we can learn about how we came to be the way our present day society became to be the way it is and how we can shape it for the future by preserving artifacts. Also, it involves other fields, such as criminal justice, to help it be a successful practice. It is a field that involves many fields of education and expertise to operate and is not necessarily limited by the education. Archaeology is an amazing field that enables many people to become involved in to preserve our history and human culture.
At the beginning of this semester, when I mean I like archaeology which only means I like that kind of adventure atmosphere and beautiful artifacts instead of archaeology itself. Basically speaking, I did not have a comprehensive understanding of archaeology and most average people just like me. However, people would ask: what does archaeology matter to me except those artifacts on museum or stories? Actually, archaeology studies past human society to know how ancient people survive, working, farming, etc. With thousands of years, people always want to know where are we originate from, why we become what we looks like today. Archaeology could answer the question why we become what we looks like today to some extent. It research in past human activities which would help us to understand living conditions of ancient time, maybe it will answer why they did certain things. For example, when we celebrate some festivals with certain traditions, in terms archaeology, they may find some documents and artifacts related to ceremony to show how and why they create this festival and how the ceremony like at that time. Then we can know why we have many different festivals and traditions.
The most important object you need to know is: archaeology study about human society. Modern archaeology belongs to anthropology means it focus on human beings. Doubtless, public interested in how human evolved, so the archaeology provide a path for general people to know what happened back in centuries. Without archaeology, we could not find a sea of artifacts and sites help us to go back into the history. These are also evidences for human history and bunches of culture no long exist. On the other hand, archaeological research in past human being would supply some suggestions for DNA study of other scientific study. In addition, archaeology also protect human physical and non-physical cultural heritage and pass to our future generation as treasures. For me, archaeology means a path to the ancient time, I would know the change of culture and human over time through it. A world without archaeology dramatically reduce our probability to access to history.
To be honest, when I began this class I had no idea the breadth or depth that archaeology has had on increasing the understanding of the world around us. In my ignorance and close mindedness, I assumed that archaeology was simply looking at artifacts and cataloguing them for museums. In essence I saw archaeology as finding pretty things to look at, an interesting hobby of sorts. I didn’t see archaeology as a viable career (except for a select few academics), or contributing to society in the same way that hard sciences such as microbiology do.
This class has shown me how wrong I was. Archaeology includes, integrates, and incorporates all facets of science. It provides us with answers for why civilizations died, how to prevent and overcome diseases, and provides us with a cultural context for how we (meaning mankind) evolved with our environment, and what that may mean for our future as a civilization. Too often I think sciences become inbred, viewing anything outside their realm as less important, or invalid. This is a terrible attitude for science to have, and I think it limits science. It is those who are not afraid to dream, and see the world around them in a different way from everyone else that change the world. That is what I think this course, and archaeology provides the world with: a context to explain the seemingly unexplainable.
To me, archaeology is one of the many “languages” that helps explain the world around us. As a science, archaeology uses defined methodologies to find patterns and make sense out of the chaos that is the world. I believe A.L. Kroeber said it best, “Anthropology is the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities.” By combining the best of the sciences and humanities, archaeology contributes to the improvement and further understanding of the world around us.