Over the semester i have throughly enjoyed learning about all of the different cultures we have covered in the last fifteen weeks or so, but i would have to say that the most interesting and captivating for me to learn about would have to be the Mississippians. While they may not be the most important of archeological cultures but i feel that it is considering that i am currently living in the united states. I feel that it is important to north american culture because they were one of first major culture groups to take root in north america and really create a name for them selves. Between the expansive trade routs and the jaw dropping earth works they really knew how to leave their imprint on the land scape of north america. i found this to be the most fascinating part of the year because of a lot of reasons the first is that these structures when looked at dont look like any thing from the out side but when you can get inside one of these mounds the whole appearance of them changes drastically and becomes an unbelievable earth work. i also find it amazing that in the time when they were building the earth works that do not include mounds they were able to build them with strictly basic tools and their own intuition. but when you look down upon them from the sky they look like these beautiful murals crafted into the earth. All while they were un able to see the from the vantage point we are able to see them from now. and the final reason why i find the mississippians so fascinating is the fact that they were able to create a massive and complex trade net work throughout the entire Mississippi valley and reaching out all the way to the rockies. another reason why i feel that it is fascinating to learn about the Mississippians is their idea of the religion the SECC is a very complex idea of religion. the fact that they combined the idea of the supernatural world with the the world they already live in. i also found it interesting that they believed they had a connection between the upper world and the lower world through their world and the fact that they believed that by slaying the great serpent you gain all sorts of natural life benefits and can gain long life and prosperity.
Even in todays modern society people believe in curses, ranging from the curse of the mummy to the curse im talking about today which is the curse of Maglus. Curses and superstition have seemed to be a major part of culture and day to day activities. The Curse of Maglus is not so much a known curse as an attempt to curse other. The story says that an individual who had something stolen from him created this tablet that listed the names of a few individuals whom he believed were responsible for the crime. The tablet says this ‘To the god Maglus, I give the wrongdoer who stole the cloak of Servandus. Silvester, Riomandus (etc.) … that he destroy him before the ninth day, the person who stole the cloak of Servandus…’ the end result of this curse is not recorded so we have no idea if the curse worked but the fact that this curse was used at all is interesting. The reason i bring this up is because the tablet that was found is actually quite the amazing archeological discovery. this tablet took about three years for a team of 60 archeologists to completely excavate the site. The tablet is believed to have come from the Roman Leicester of which we know very little. Prior to the find of this tablet there were only three or four names known from the Leicester after the tablet the number increased drastically which is also part of why it is a significant find. Curse tablets are not uncommon things and they are usually made of led and are inscribed with a point or stylas. For they most part they pertain to individuals who have committed the crime of theft and usually as for the god the tablet speaks of to cause harm to the individual who committed the crime. Most of the Tablets that have been found are in relatively poor shape because of how it is believed that they were stored, most people believe that the tablets were stored either rolled up or nailed to the side of a temple or shrine causing weathering and damage that makes them difficult to decipher or read at all. The reason that the Leicester Curse is so significant is because it was never rolled up or nailed to the side of any structure which allowed it to be very well preserved. The entirety of the scroll has yet to be deciphered and is still being worked on at the university of Oxford.
Now I can understand why someone would want to remember some place as being special if that was where some “prophet had a vision or where a great battle of your people occurred or even where some great individual was born but the idea to build these earthworks or to build a place like Stonehenge must have been looked at as one of two things I could see it as either one of worst ideas ever like most works of brilliance seem too or it started as a great idea and was quickly built on but I have a feeling that it started as a horrible idea that once the works were in progress large amounts of people decided to jump in and run along side the original genius. The reason I feel that they started as a bad idea is because of the fact of what they decided to make. For example the earth work of the snake with the egg in its mouth the idea to create something like that must have sounded absolutely crazy. In my mind I picture one individual going up to his group of friends saying “hey lets go make a giant snake out of dirt to honor life and the globe” to put it in modern terms and I can see the others saying “what are you on” just the idea of such things are so far fetched that it had to be difficult to get people to invest in such things. Another example would be the idea of pyramids or Stonehenge how would someone of normal status or even a pharaoh or king convince people that one this was a good idea and two that it would be worth investing years into or in the case of Stonehenge thousands of years. But even beyond that once you decided to undertake this earth work projects imagine what it would take to keep them in that shape for long enough to be established and not blow away but then also to keep them standing long enough to be here today is unbelievable and made an impact on todays history that I doubt they could ever imagine.
Greed has been the down fall of man for a very long time by religion it has been since man was created, by scientific standard it has been since the beginning of recorded history. But the greed of man has cost us more then any one person can put a price on. if we are to look at the cost through out the world i would be here all day so i will only talk about Egypt. to begin with probably the most disappointing of the factors taken from Egypt is the stone and gold stolen from the Pyramids of Giza. we all know that stone does erode and eventually would be destroyed on its own. however, the pyramids had a lot of help from several groups of people. had they not been raided and damaged we may have been able to see the pyramids still gleam in the sun of Egypt to this day. the smooth limestone was taken from the pyramids leaving the edges jagged as opposed to the smooth white they once were. also the i believe there were gold peak covers on them that have since been taken as well. that is strictly speaking to the exterior of the pyramids but there was also a priceless amount of artifacts taken from the inside of each i can only imagine what was held in those pyramids based on the volume of things found in King Tut’s tomb. now that we have covered a small but still very significant piece of Egypt i need to talk about the depressing loss that happened in the Valley of the Kings. even if 10% of the tombs had been left un touched in the valley of the kings the we have a vastly more significant idea of what the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt lived and died like that we could have gotten more clues to other un discovered cites or artifacts. but beside that point is the fact that the only reason we don’t know all of these things is due to the greed of men who were supposed to give this information and and fantastic artifacts to the world. greed has caused us to lose so much in this community that we have know idea how much we are actually missing.
People say the we have learned so much from the past and that we discovered a great deal of things over the course of time and frankly i agree that it does seem like a lot. But to put it bluntly the equivalent of what we have discovered and what there is to discover is best put in the comparison to what land MSU owns is what we know and the state of Michigan land mass is what we could potentially know. How is it possible that this is all we know? Think about it in this way if we were to become enemies with a country such as north korea or Vietnam countries who have rich culture how are we going to be able to discover those archeological things and learn about the past of those nations. They aren’t just going to let us waltz in and start digging. Also we need to think about the use of military force and what it does to destroy what artifacts may have been there or even the process of building anything. now you have to figure that when you bomb an enemy nation buildings will be destroyed and people are going to die but what about the things that cant be seen by simply looking at the ground a bomb creates a crater and vaporizes anything close to the initial blast meaning anything of archeological significance that may have been where that crater now is cant be found and never will be. the biggest one that stands out in my mind would be Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan is a country we all can agree has an old and rich culture but when we leveled those two sections of japan how much was destroyed that we could have learned from or even discovered for the first time. Another portion of World War Two that stand out in my mind is what the Blitzkreig could have done with all of the blanket bombings they did while raiding Europe who knows what may have been destroyed over the course of that process. when it comes to building things most nations do not have to worry but there are some that really do for example Greece. when the olympic games were in Athens last time they had great difficulty building the village because every time they turned over a rock they found some artifact. and while this is an extreme example who is it say that it has been over looked in other nations or even in other areas of Greece.