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.

Iron Age Kingdom: Iron Smelting in Africa- Bonus Blog Post

The Iron Age of Africa is generally considered to have taken place between 200 AD and 1000 AD when iron smelting was a practice. In Africa, the Iron Age was not prefaced by the Bronze or Copper Age, instead, all of the metals were brought together. The advantages of Iron are obvious, easier to cut trees with and easier to shave stone.

In the 2nd millenium BC, it is believed that Western Asians invented the process of iron smelting. This invention was key in the development of those Western Asian Cities, as iron smelting was a key trade in this region of the world. In the eighth century BC, history tells us that the Phoenicians brought the iron smelting trade to North Africa, specifically Lepcis Magna, Carthage. During the time period between the 7th and 8th centuries BC, the first iron smelting process took place in Ethiopia, Africa. Between the 6th and 7th centuries, iron smelting practices made it all the to the Sudan region, then onto West African areas. Slowly the iron smelting practice spread to South Africa and Central Africa. From the 2nd century to about 1000 AD, it is believed that the Chifumbaze spread iron throughout the largest portion of Africa, including eastern and southern Africa. The Chifumbaze were farmers of squash, beans, and millet.

The idea of Iron Smelting made it’s way around Africa slowly but surely and eventually led to the Iron Age that reigned over the Zimbabwe region of Africa. The process of iron smelting is very dangerous and also very smelly process. To do work on iron, you must extract the ore material from the ground and break it into pieces. Next you heat the pieces to a temperature of at least 1100 degrees under controlled conditions. Obviously with this kind of heat, the process immediately becomes a very dangerous process. In those days there were only a few options for heating these types of materials and the most reasonable one for this process was to build a clay furnace.  These clay furnaces used charcoal and were hand- operated and required the usage of bellows to reach the level of heating required for the smelting process. Once the iron was smelted, the metal was separated from its waste products (or as they called it) slag. It was then brought to its shape by repeated hammering and heating process called forging. This was the most effective way to complete the iron smelting process, isn’t it exciting??

Bonus Blog-Stonehenge

There have been many interesting discoveries that we were taught this semester, the one that stumped me the most was that of Stonehenge. I have family in the United Kingdom that has actually been to the site itself. I personally have never been to the U.K. but I was told that if I go, Stonehenge is a major must-see tourist attraction. Not only is there Stonehenge that captivates me but the sites around it, and when looked at an aerial view, the shape that makes the surrounding area.

Stonehenge is just the most cited notable location within Wiltshire because it was in clear plain site, but there is more in the area. Woodhenge, also in Wiltshire, is approximately 2 miles away from the site of Stonehenge. When these two are compared, they say that Woodhenge was labeled, “The land of the living.” While Stonehenge was labeled, “The land of the dead.” This is interesting to me when comparing cold stone as, “Dead” and useful wood as, “Living.” Due to England’s constant oceanic climate it amazes me as to how Stonehenge itself is still standing, dating back to the Neolithic and Bronze Age.

There are not many things well known about Stonehenge, due to the lack of records that could have given better knowledge of the sites purpose. I personally find that exciting, the mysterious archeological find that remains somewhat of a mystery t this day, even through all of our technological advances. Theories about Stonehenge include that of it being a ritual site used by the Romans during the time of the conquest of Britannia. This was to worship the primal god of the sky, Caelus. Other theories include the Devil and story of how he threw a giants stone at a local farmer. The druids, and John Aubrey’s (1649) idea of how these people built them. Finally the theory of Merlin and King Arthur and how King Arthurs father asked Merlin to construct the site. A reason as to why Archaeology is important is because the most trusted evidence can be found through Archeology itself.

Archaeologists have found through research that there are 4 different parts that discuss stonehenges construction. The preconstruction which lasted from 8,000-3,100 B.C., the first phase which was around 3,100 B.C., the second phase at 3,000 B.C. and the third phase which includes phases 1-5 lasting from 2,600 -1,600 B.C. So in the end this site is an important feat in favor of the study of Archaeology. Without anyone showing interest in how things like Stonehenge got there instead of just being there, there would be no sufficient evidence to provide history of our ancestors. That is why (along with every other site we were taught about in, “Great Discoveries of Archaeology) Stonehenge is important.

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/content/images/iphone/stonehenge-iphone.jpg

Bonus Blog

I believe that there were a few sites and context that we talked about that were either very interesting, important, capitivizing, and exciting.  The one that I thought was most important, was the Egyptians.  The Egyptian sites that we talked about were absolutly breath taking.  The things that we have discovered at Egyptian sites were ones that we marvel at.  The reason is because they were doing things that no one thought would be possible for such an ancient and old civilization.  They were able to preserve bodies so well, that we are able to look at and detect what was the cause of their deaths, how they’re skeletal structure looked, even facial features.  This is astounding for two reasons.  First is that this is a body that is thousands and thousands of years old.  Secondly, the fact that they were able to preserve a body for that long for being an ancient race is insane.  They also built monuments structures, that even today, are some of the most renown sites in the world.  The pyramid of Kuufu, which is referred to as “The Great Pyramid” is one of the most visited sites in the entire world.  Its a structure that has an entrance that is 17 meters off the ground.  The structure itself is over 450 feet tall, and this is a structure that was build over four thousand years ago, and still stands tall today.  This is only one of many other pyramids that were built in Egypt.  Another interesting thing about the Egyptian site is how intrigued people have been throughout history about its existence.  Travelers, and even crusaders would stop by this site during the Holy Wars to bestow their eyes upon the amazing pyramids and Ghaza strip.  Napoleon was so intrigued by ancient Egypt that he wanted to take it over, and actually went to war for it.  There are also huge crypts, and burials that have been discovered over the past few centuries.  Huge crypts filled with gold and treasures and ancient artifacts, that were held dear to the ancient Egyptian rulers.  There have been countless movies based on these sites, the culture of America has had many egyptian references whether it be using the Mummy as a monster, or using the ancient pyramids as part of a conspiracy theory.  I hope that we are able to preserve this site for our future generations, and so that our kids can marvel at the ancient structures just like I have.

My Favorite Site – A Day in the Life at Dayr al Madina

This class was my first introduction to archaeology and it’s made me reconsider the field as a whole. I’ve begun to see archaeology as a field with strict scientific rigor. The goal of all archaeologists is to relearn the forgotten ways of our shared ancestors. These discoveries, these sites, these artifacts are data. Data in the same sense as physics and biology. Astrophysicists look back hundreds of millions of years to see for answers among their data – is it not the same for archeology? The result; the conclusion of all this information, is a view of humanity’s rise and fall since the inception of our race. Every artifact offers a look into the lives of people who are no different than you or I; they just happened to be born into a world separated by a few hundred years. We read about temples and palaces but my favorite finds are the houses, the small things that subtlety holds the stories of the people that carried them. That’s the cultural heritage – the spoon, the shard of pottery with writing on the back, the bed of straw. That’s why I like learning about the Valley of the King – not for all the kings and tombs and stuff – but for the small village of Dayr al Madina. I find it much more interesting because I have much more in common with a working man than with a royal pharaoh. Of course all the nice trinkets are beautiful to look upon but to get a glimpse at what life was like for a common man 2000 years ago is far more wonderful. They have receipts and notes and pots for bread – seems very boring but this debris of everyday life shows that these men and women weren’t so different from us. There is a sense of connection that crosses through the generational distance between us. I wonder, looking at a man’s house in Dayr al Madina, how he would have spent the hours there. Did he have a wife? Did he have a drink with his buddies after a long day of work? Did he just lie around some days or did he work at home? In 5000 years it is unlikely that my house will still exist as it does now, or that this country will look the way it does, and someday far in the future, maybe some young archaeologist will excavate my room and see the detritus of my life and in so doing connect with me across time.

Namesakes and King

So, when we examine more and more cultures and sites, we inevitably come across something I personally to find to be very interesting: Names. How we define things when we talk about them is of critical importance.  Often times, the names the names we use for a civilization is completely different than the one used by the people of that civilization/culture.

 A good example of this would be China. The name for China in Chinese is “Zhongguo.” With it’s Japanese name being “Chugoku.” Namely, it sounds fairly different from the English name of “China.” So, the question then becomes where names of these things come from? In my mind, one thing starts to arise: Kings.

So what strikes as being the most prolific is how history tends to emphasize the the power of individuals. And of course, who would be the most powerful and influential but Kings?

The Namesakes from Kings: 

So I’d like to take my time here and discuss How Kings have Influenced the naming of various things in history. An example we discussed in class would be the Sapa Inca. Inca itself meaning “King.” And of course, then when we refer to their civilization, we call them “Inca.”

Hey look, It’s a Sapa Inca!

So in this regard, a King defines the name of the people itself, which shows the importance and influence of the King. In a more extreme example, we have Qin Shihuang of the Qin Dynasty of China. It is supposed that he is the namesake of China. Being the first Chinese Emperor, his name Qin, ultimately became the namesake of his entire empire/people/country/civilization for thousands of years.

(Just to make it as painfully obvious as possible)

China

Chin-a

Qin-a

It’s Emperor Qin…

Caesar:

Kings also give names to not just their own people, but often times set precedent for rulers  that come after them. By following the name of a previous king, it also channels the authority, achievement, and power of that King. The most striking example of this seems to be the case of Julius Caesar.

Caesar was probably among the most prolific Kings (being the catch-all for ruler in this case) who ever lived. And what is important to note is that the number of titles he gave his name to. First off, it’s important to note that Caesar itself become the name of the leader of the Roman Empire, so even his successors wanted to channel his name.

It is also interesting to note though, that a variety of other European titles are derived from Caesar as well: The most notable are the Russian Tsar, and the German Kaiser, the terms for Caesar in Russian and German respectively. It was even flat out stated that by the German Chancellor (during the founding of Germany), that the name was chosen to channel the the authority of the Caesar himself.

Caesar?

So, I guess, I just wanted to make a point, that although we examine cultures and their contexts in Archaeology, it is also important to keep in mind the the influence of Individuals upon cultures. And in the most direct way, that’s usually some kind of King. So whether it’s  The Dolce of Italy or the Emperor of Japan, I’d implore to think not just about the events and culture, but the people within them, and how they fit into the Big Picture.

 

Site of Palenque

During lecture I found the site of Palenque very interesting. The fact that there was the ball court, where they played ballgames grabbed my attention. The fact that the ball games were very dangerous and the depth of skill set needed to play them made it all the more interesting. I did some further research on these ballgames and found that there wasn’t as much information on it as I thought there would be. Even though a vast amount of research has been done, archaeologists still don’t fully understand the meaning, social factors and political reasons for the ball court. I did find that the ball court is one of the oldest structures at Palenque. Palenque was a Mayan city-state in southern Mexico and dates back to 226 BC, and falls around 1123 AD. The ball court dates back to around 500AD and is the only ball court in Palenque. We do know that the ball court is typical of the Mayan society, and very important in religious aspects. It was connected with the circle of life and with the growth of corn. The ball court is also one of the entrances to the underworld. The first two players of this ball game were the Hero twin’s father and uncle. They were playing the game so close to the underworld that the Lord got angry about the noise that he sent owls to captured the twin brothers. Their names were Hunahpu and Ixbalanque. They ended up playing the game and defeating the Lord of the Underworld, Lord Xibalba. When the Mayan play the ballgame, they play it to symbolize the victory over the Lord of the Underworld.
Aside from the ball courts, Palenque contains some of the finest architecture, sculptures and carving that the Mayans’ produced. It is a medium-sized site, but much smaller site compared to Tikal and Copan. A vast majority of the history of Palenque has been reconstructed form the readings of the hieroglyphics inscribed on the many monuments. From these hieroglyphics, archaeologists have been able to discover long sequences of the ruling dynasty of Palenque in the 5th century. Along with this they have also been able to understand and gain a great amount of knowledge about the rivalry between city-states like Calakmul and Tinina. Palenque is unlike any other Mayan art formation. It is characterized by fineness and lightness due to a new form of construction techniques and draining methods. These new construction methods were able to reduce the thickness of the walls and expanded interior space and allowed for multiple opening. The uses of galleries give the architecture a sense of rare elegance due to its richly decoration of sculptures and the form of stucco, a wall plaster decoration that had never been previously seem. This influence extended as far as the western border of the Mayan cultural zone.

Student Blog Post 4- Erik Joergens

For one of the final blog posts for this class I decided to report on something I like to consider “living” archeology. In early February I found an article with the title “Stone Age Tribe Kills Fisherman Who Strayed onto Island”, this article had been published in “The Telegraph” and was written by Peter Foster. The unfortunate fishermen were working in the Andarman Islands when their boat became stranded on the nearby North Sentinel Island sometime during the night. This island is home to one of the last Pre-Neolithic tribes known, the Sentinelese. This tribe has managed to survive many different natural calamities, the most recent being the 2004 Tsunami, and is estimated to have between 50-200 members. However due to their extremely aggressive behavior, researchers have been unable to spend time studying this “living fossil” in order to better understand how they have been able to survive without any contact with the modern world. It has been reported that the tribe will fire arrows and spears at any vessel that passes too close to the island.

Through DNA analysis of another nearby tribe, the Jarawa, Scientists have been able to hypothesize that the Sentinelese tribe was formed from the descendants of a group that migrated to the area from Africa roughly 60,000 years ago. This existence of a group of people living without any technological advances or contact with the outside world got me to thinking about other groups living in remote areas around the world. I would imagine that this is not an isolated phenomenon and hope that educated professionals such as archeologists, anthropologists, and scientists will eventually be able to study these groups more closely. I think that it would provide some valuable evidence either in support or against the many archeological inferences, regarding the Pre-Neolithic era, that could not be physically verified or observed since the civilization disappeared many years ago. I think another interesting point can be made regarding the survival of some of these ancient groups, specifically that the traditions and different methods of survival they have been using obviously allow for them to survive and flourish over an extremely long period of time. If an ancient “stone age” civilization can survive on a tiny island in the Indian Ocean I would venture to say that there have to be many others, perhaps on tiny islands that have remained unnoticed by today’s humans. Hopefully one day we will be able to successfully communicate with some these groups and help preserve the vast amount of knowledge regarding their mysterious past.

Link to the article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/1509987/Stone-Age-tribe-kills-fishermen-who-strayed-on-to-island.html