Bonus Blog

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As I promised, here is the topic/question for your bonus blog:

Over the semester, we’ve talked about a wide variety of sites and cultures. Which one do you think is the most important, captivating, interesting, exciting, etc.    Discuss why.

The bonus blog (which is worth the same as all other blogs and is a true bonus) needs to be posted by 5pm on Monday (the 29th) – Regular word count  but no response is required. Make sure you choose the “Bonus Blog” category when you post it.

Ancient Roman Port

Through all the archaeology classes I have taken and articles I have read, I have learned that there is always something more at archaeological excavation sites. Whether it’s a new artifact that leads to a new interpretation or new questions or more to a site than was discovered before. In a previous class I had done a project on a port in Italy that was very important during to the Romans called Ostia. While surveying critical ports to Rome during the Romans height, archaeologists have discovered a new boundary wall meaning it was much bigger than they previously thought it to be. Through the use of “geophysical survey techniques”, specifically magnetometry, archaeologists found the boundary wall extended more down the Tiber river and included towers and three more warehouses which were much bigger than previously excavated warehouses. One of which being as big as a football field. This discovery pushes further evidence of commercial activities during the beginning centuries of this ports building. “Director of the Portus Project, Professor Simon Keay says, “Our research not only increases the known area of the ancient city, but it also shows that the Tiber bisected Ostia, rather than defining its northern side.” The Portus Project is working on the important ports of Rome between the 1st through 6th century including the port of Ostia and Portus, Ostia’s neighboring port.  Another building was also discovered but its use is still unknown, which is why I believe it’s important for archaeologists to revisit sites that have already had research done on it and for archaeologists to extensively excavate newly discovered sites as to retain as much information from that site as possible. This way archaeologists can get a better interpretation of sites. Professor Keay states, “Our results are of major importance for our understanding of Roman Ostia and the discoveries will lead to a major re-think of the topography of one of the iconic Roman cities in the Mediterranean.”  The workings of this project supports that going back to iconic sites like the Roman port of Ostia can give new insights and a better understanding on topics like topography of critical archaeological sites. With the advancement of technology over the last 50 years, archaeologists should revisit sites and use new technology like GIS to bring forward more information and better understandings of the important sites of past civilizations, like the Portus Project did for the Roman port of Ostia.  

Extra Blog Post

After taking the Final Exam today under the complete exhaustion in which finals week always brings over every student year in and out. I reflected upon some of the points in which I found of great significance after adhering to lecture taught by Professor Watrall. I thought in depth about the possibilities of the increasing seemingless technological barrier. Technologically the innovations being made today are intriguing seeing as we can uncover more archaeological knowledge simply from using a telescope or taking a geomagnetic survey of the land. The possibilities in which technology can go in the future will lead to even more great archaeological finds.

When we learned about the Stonehenge I found it simply amazing that the builders, construction date, and how it was constructed are all relatively unknown. The questions that linger around the archaeological findings upon the site are mind boggling and truly captures the imagination of scientists of every facet. Were we as a human race guided by an extraterrestrial being like some theorists have proposed or was the culture that resided amongst the Stonehenge are just more technologically advanced for their time compared to their surrounding constituents. We honestly will never know until it can be proven so through archaeological findings or other accurate depictions of its construction.

Another intriguing aspect of the class was upon the topic of Atlantis. The possibility of once having a great sunken land known as Atlantis, seen to be generations ahead of its time, and eventually collapsed sinking to the bottom of the sea. After watching all of the Disney movies and hearing all of the stories growing up it only further pushed me to investigate more into the credibility of the topic. Only to find that most accounts were misinterpretations of prestigious work taken into the wrong context to fulfill a fantasy belief. I found this upsetting but still of great interest, for it is estimated that something of the same nature is in line to happen to New York. The endless possibilities that we encounter in this world are things that will forever challenge us and push us to our scientific limits of knowledge.

This class has taught me to question the beliefs of others and the only way to truly find the source of the facts is to observe excavate, and ultimately research yourself. For there are some things we may never be able to prove archaeologically but, there are also many things in which others have lacked to observe. Simply put I have learned to investigate the cultural pasts of our ancestors not by speculation from past written works which coud be biased, but instead to expand our knowledge in grasping the concepts of culture as a whole and the role in which Archaeological findings factor in. Ultimately, this class was one of the most interesting classes I have take at Michigan State and further led me to look more into the archaeological aspect of the world and observe the cultural differentiations that occur time in and out and is ever changing.

Bonus Blog – Stonehenge

In my opinion, we covered a lot of interesting things in class. But the discovery that stands out the most to me is Stonehenge. Perhaps it’s because it’s one of the few sites that I had heard about before and was really interested in, but it was definitely my favorite to learn about throughout the duration of the course.

One thing that I enjoyed about Stonehenge is that it is surrounded by mystery. There are many different opinions on who built it. Was it Merlin? The Devil? Romans? There are many different theories about the creator of such an impressive site. But it has never been proven so we still don’t know the answer, and perhaps we never will.

Not only is it a mystery of who built the site, but why was the site built? There are theories that it was a place for pilgrimage, a temple for a Roman God, and a significant astronomical grounds, to name a few. But even this is still unclear.

Another aspect of Stonehenge that I enjoyed learning about was how it was split up into three different phases during the building process. There were even sub-phases in some of them. This goes to show that the builders put a lot of time and thought into the site and planned accordingly.

What I didn’t know about Stonehenge before this class is that it isn’t just the standing rock fixtures that pop into everyone’s mind, but it in fact encompasses more. It includes graves and mounds and much more land than you may think at first.

An important lesson that we can take away from Stonehenge is how, sometimes, even archaeologists can’t uncover the mysteries of our past because there isn’t enough evidence. It shows that there are still discoveries left to be made and that, even after all this time, sometimes you may never know.

It’s interesting to think about how Stonehenge is such a well-known structure, and yet, in all actuality, much remains to be known about the reason for its existence. Perhaps this is why it is such a draw, because of the mystery and unknown elements of the site. Perhaps people wouldn’t be as interested if they found out what it was actually made for.

I’ve learned so much about archaeology since taking this class, and it’s been cool to see that archaeologists are still uncovering many sites to this day, and re-visiting old sites.

The Pyramids

We’ve covered a lot of stuff throughout the semester. But call me cliché, I still think the pyramids of giza take the cake on  being the most intriguing and impressive. It all comes down to the organization, time, and engineering to construct these massive works to such high precision. There are a couple categories that most impress me.

1. Flatness of stones. This cannot be overstressed. I’ve worked in a machine shop (precision metal and materials cutting) for a year and a half now, and it amazes me how much it takes to make something flat. For us, we use a mill that uses a spindle with a metal blade that rotates at thousands of RPM. To move, this thing requires precision ground surfaces (made by other perfect machines) so that it may cut a straight, flat surface. Did I mention these machines don’t cut stones of any sort? Stones are brittle: they’d crack under any sort of pressure, and are therefore very, very difficult to make. The Egyptians cut granite to very high precision flatness: if a straight edge is taken to the surface and a sheet of paper is slid through to detect imperfection, the paper would not go through. The paper’s thickness is 0.002″… SUPER THIN. Well, how do we cut granite these days to that precision? Grinders, High RPM skilsaws with specially engineered blades, etc. technologies NOT available to the Egyptians. How did they do it? Most recent theories support evidence of using a large, copper blade saw, some sand, and some water. With just these tools, the ancient Egyptians could cut 15 foot, 70 ton slabs of granite with surfaces that had flatnesses with a precision to 0.002″. Granted, I bet it took a long time and a lot of copper (since copper is softer than granite), but they still got the job done. Simply baffling.

2. Ability to organize the project and people for 10-20 years (Khufu). That is the definition of endurance, I don’t care who you are. Creating just Khufu required thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people to construct. A pyramid isn’t just something you and your buddies set out to do over the weekend, this thing required years of architectural designing, scheduling, logistics, workforce training, etc. For the Egyptians to even design this thing without standard measuring conventions or even apparatuses to make measurements and have these pyramids turn out the way they did? Incredible.

The construction of the pyramids is nothing short of one of the greatest, most impressive things mankind has put on this earth with its bare hands.

Stonehenge

The site that I think was the most important/exciting that we discussed was Stonehenge. Prior to the class I knew of the site, but truly knew none of the details or anything. The only thing I knew was that it was a bunch of stones in a circle. However to much more than that.

I learned that they werent just any stone most of them were blue stones while some were made out of sandstone. The most the important thing was that it just wasnt the stones that made Stonehenge magnificent. The 56 Avebury holes that surround the site. Along with the huge embankments that go around the Avebury holes. There is also an amazing cursus that is approximately 3 kilometers long.

Off to the northeast of Stonehenge is a place called Woodhenge. Woodhenge is a place where wood post create circles. It was said that Woodhenge was the land of the living while Stonehenge was the land of the Dead. Barrows were a major feature to the sight as well with 100’s of them within the near area. Some barrows were unique by being so close together naturally called barrow groups.

Avebury is a small little town not far from Stonehenge that has an enormous stone circle with earthworks embankment. The large circle has ditches bigger than the site of Stonehenge does. The immediate area of Stonehenge is the most spectacular in all of Europe.

The actual creation of Stonehenge is mostly a mystery with some abstract guesses. It is most likely that it was built by the Druids members of the priestly class. The construction of the site started way back in 800 B.C. This was the first stage in construction called preconstruction lasting from 8,000 to 3,000 B.C. During this time the post hole were dug, Robinhoods ball was created and the Stonehenge Cursus was formed.

Second stage of Construction around 3100 B.C. there was some ditch construction. By phase 4 Stonehenge look the way we know it as. Had all the large blue stones and the horseshoe like center ring. After this phase little construction was done to the site.

The purpose of the magnificent structure is that it served as an astronomical observatory at some point in time. It aligned with the summer solstice. To this day many people still visit the site on the summer solstice and its the only day it is open to the public. In the winter it served as a religious center. Stonehenge mostly has seasonal importance.

Professor Watrall explained to us that Stonehenge itself is part of a much larger landscape which are all apart of a system.

 

 

Bonus Blog

To talk about Chinese history and archaeology, no one can miss Qing Dynasty. Qing dynasty is the last feudal dynasty in china;s long history.

and everyone has dreamed about the wealth of Qing Emperor.

as we know, the wealth of Emperor goes into them tomb.

Qing history last two hundred sixty eight years. After two centuries and 60 years of plunder, the rulers accumulated endless treasure. The extravagant Empress put a large number of rare treasures to be buried in his own grave after death, and expect to continue to enjoy in another world. Of course, the imperial tomb was fantastic and beautiful, but in fact, it is a evidence  that people suffered a lot brutalizing in the rule of Qing and is also the centralized feudal evil witness.

For the age and location of the mausoleum that had been built, it can be divided into the Early Qing outside the center china, Eastern Qing Tombs and Qingxiling tombs.

so, today post, we will write about eastern Qing tomb.

The Eastern Qing Tombs are an imperial tomb complex of the Qing Dynasty located in Zunhua, 125 kilometers away from Beijing. They are the largest, most complete, and best preserved extant mausoleum complex that are found in China. The tomb of QinShihuang is maybe bigger, but it is still underground. And 5 emperors 15 empresses, 136 imperial concubines, 3 princes, and 2 princesses of the Qing Dynasty were buried here.

November 30, 2000, The Eastern Qing Tombs was added into world cultural heritage list, and UNESCO World Heritage experts said that Eastern Qing Tombs is a masterpiece of human creative genius ”

The Eastern Qing tombs is more famous than other Qing royal tomb is not only because the most famous Qing leader, Emperor Kang Xi, Emperor Qian Long and empress dowager Ci Xi were buried there, but also because the big rob to the tomb of Cixi who are known as most luxurious leader.

the most interesting fact about this is that the tomb of Ci Xi was robbed by government.

Sun DianYing who are one of the army commander in the government. at time time, the milit power means the power on politic. so this guy robbed and clean everything out of the Cixi Tomb.A lot of treasure that no one has ever seen was robbed, including the famous  legendary luminous pearl.

of course, a lot of treasure was broken during the robbing time.

and this is why the tomb of Cixi is four of the tomb which is  now opening to the public.

although it is the sign of criminal feudal time, but as the chinese treasure, i do not hope any other tomb will be destroyed one more time.

Final Bonus Blog Post

This question poses for a lot of room for discussion. I don’t think that one specific site that we talked about this semester falls under the category of important, captivating, interesting, and exciting. I feel like one site can be the most important, while a different site captivates my attention, while I find a third site interesting.

I find mounds and earthworks the most interesting because I always thought that these were natural creations. It was hard for me to wrap my mind around it in the beginning. I find it interesting that these were created for religious and ceremonial reasons long with burial and residence for the elite. I think that the fact that grass has grown over many of them makes them look so natural, that then learning that they are man made
The sites I find the most important however are the Great Pyramids. I can’t pick one specific pyramid as more important than the other, but as a whole, they have told us so much about the ancient Egyptians. We know who the Egyptians are, why they built these pyramids, and when they built them. We’ve learned that pyramids are a place of offerings of food and water to the specific King that the pyramid was built for because even a dead king needs them in the afterlife. We know that it took thousands of slaves to construct these pyramids and that they weren’t just built over night; they took years and year to construct. From other pyramids that were discovered, we’ve been able to see that many of the slaves lived in these while they were building the pyramids for their kings. Archeologists know this because they have found rooms and kitchens inside of these pyramids.

Finally throughout the semester I’ve found that Stonehenge is the most captivating site that we’ve learned about. As a child, I learned that it was one of the Seven Wonders of the World; so finally learning about it in class grabs my attention greatly. I love that there is an astrological significance of some sort to Stonehenge and that the Summer and Winter Solstice play an important role. I find it intriguing that the only time you are allowed to touch Stonehenge is during the rave during the Summer Solstice. The last captivating thing about Stonehenge is how we learned about the great detail and time that it took to build it and the many different assumptions of who built it. The idea that the Devil built Stonehenge makes me laugh because it seems like such a far-fetched that it is not a possibility at all. Also, the fact that there are five different phases and time periods that it was created in and took that long to create must mean that there was great importance in its reasons for being built.

The Importance of Mesoamerica

Of all the sites we studied throughout the semester, though many were extremely interesting and of great importance, the American sites stood out to me as the most significant. The sites in Europe and Africa were from the Old World, either a direct part of or influenced by the rise of Western civilization.  The sites of the New World, on the other hand, were utterly independent of that rise.  They represent a parallel development to what the inheritors of the Old World tend to think of as the single, inevitable development of the West.

This independence from the west applies to the Mississippians, the Maya, and the Inca, but each of these are interesting for different reasons.  The Mississippians baffled Europeans for decades because the idea of complex civilizations in North America was seen as absurd.  The Mississippians created an advanced culture capable of great feats entirely on their own.  The same can be said of the Inca, who unified a vast empire and developed systems of agriculture, record-keeping, and inheritance that, while alien to Europe, were undoubtedly advanced.  The most interesting to me, however, is the civilization of the Ancient Maya.

The Ancient Maya built greater structures and left a greater record of themselves than the Mississippians, but disappeared, their civilization sinking away into the jungle.  This, to me, is what makes them more interesting than the Inca.  The Inca collapsed at least to a great part due to the influence of European invasion.  The Maya collapsed all on their own.  Separate entirely from the continuity of European history, the Ancient Maya rose and fell, completing the full life cycle of a civilization without a word from the inheritors of Rome.  We may still speculate as to what the Inca could have accomplished without the sudden curse of Pizarro upon them, but we know exactly how the story of the Ancient Maya would end – because it did.

It may seem strange to be fascinated by a civilization because of it’s collapse, but the existence of both a rise to such great heights and a fall into obscurity, both without any interaction with the Old World, represent something almost unique in world history.  It affects our view of natural cultural development and of history as a linear march of progress.  It informs us of what is essential to human societies, which parts of their growth and subsequent withering are the same whichever side of the Atlantic they appear on.  It is this that makes the Maya so interesting to me – they serve as a microcosm of human civilization free from the baggage of Old World contact.  Among so many great discoveries, they stand out as unique, and yet representative of greater, underlying characteristics of humanity.