Animal/Human Communication

I personally do believe animals have language. Just from a normal day observation I notice birds chirping, bees buzzing, and dogs barking. By observing their actions that go along with their language I see patterns hinting at communication. Also movies and documentaries have played a role in my belief that animals have language. For example the scientific fact, as read from this week text that, Bees use the tail waging dance to communicate distance/direction of remote food sources was used in the movie: A Bee Movie. Although the film is an animation it taught of this real life process. Movies like this sparked my interest to learn more and do research about animal languages.
As far as the difference between animal and human language I see a tremendous difference. As discussed in lecture animals languages are not as complex as the human language. They are limited to certain sounds. I believe their language is not as complex because it can not be taken out of context like the human language. As discussed in the movie, The Voice, I also believe they’re incapable of sounding like humans as there throat and other inter workings are vastly different from humans.

Bonus Blog Post

Most of my background in anthropology is in the medical/cultural component of the field. However, in the past year or so I have taken much more interest in the biological and archaeological side of anthropology. As such, I really thought that areas in which the two sides overlapped were quite interesting and I think that the study of such areas can be quite important. An obvious example from this class is the topic of the study of mortuary customs, which can provide valuable information about how someone lived and how they might have fit into their community. They can also give us an idea of how people thought about death and dying.

Another area that I think is important to the study of ancient Egyptians (and probably to other ancient cultures as well) are bioarchaeological studies of ancient human remains. By examining osteological, odontological, and other physical evidence from ancient human remains, we can add to the body of knowledge that has been built by the study of material culture (such as the study of mortuary practices, art & sculpture, artifacts, architecture, tools, etc). For instance, by studying macroscopic and microscopic physical markers on the teeth and bones of the ancient Egyptians, we can improve our knowledge about the lives of past civilizations, gaining perspective on how different groups might have worked, how often they got sick and what sort of diseases they contracted, what types of foods they ate and if they were ever malnourished, how long they typically lived, and other valuable information. When we combine these studies with the knowledge gained from the study of material culture, language, and studies of the environment that surrounded the ancient Egyptians, we can vastly improve our understanding of their culture than if we focus on one area of study alone.







Class Survey


Hey folks – as promised, I’ve created a survey for the class.  I’m hoping that you will take a little bit of time to complete it (because it will help with future versions of this class – as well as a all other Anthropology online classes).  They survey can be found on ANGEL – located under the Lessons tab.  I’m going to close down the survey at the end of the weekend.

Bonus Blog- Egyptian Deities

Similar to most African cultures, Egyptian history is deeply rooted with the existence of deities.  The appearance of such religious figures begins in Pre-dynastic times.  The Old Kingdom showed the most highest respect to their deities by constructing temples that had cults to accompany them, incorporated the representative symbols of the gods in to the names of the elitist, and had many rituals. The people of Egypt also had evolved the theory that their kings and queens were semi-divine and acted as the middlemen between the deities and the common man.  The symbol of Horus, the falcon god and protector of pharaohs, appears in the cartouche of pharaohs to symbolize their divinity.  Another name that was incorporated into royal names was that of the protector of women, Neith. The queens that usually use her name were mainly from the Western Delta which was were a huge cult had been established to pay respect to her.  Two Early Dynastic queens that used her name are Neithhotep and Merneith.

During the New Kingdom there was a king, Akhnaten, that unsuccessful created a deity.  The new deity, Aten, was suppose to replace the well-founded sun god, Amun.  The sun god was considered the father of gods.  Akhnaten wanted to reestablish the sun god because he felt the cult of Amun was becoming to strong.  Although he did somewhat convert Egyptians to Aten, it was only during his lifetime and once he died so did his fantasy deity.  As time continued to past other deities took on essential roles in the Egyptian history including Hathor who symbolized fertility and welcoming the dead to the afterlife, Isis who stood for fertility, Seth who was the god of storms, and many others.  During the Late Dynastic Period when there was a lot of Greco-Roman influence there were multiple deities created to merge the two cultures together.

As you can see deities were more than just religious figures.  Many times their creation was a political tool to control the country better and to increase the authoritative position for the government.  The people in power were generally successful at making Egyptians follow the new deities but their popularity seemed to fade after that person in power had left, like when Aten was created.  The deities that remained central roles to the kingdom were those that had strong roots in the Egyptian history and had been passed down through many generations like Amun and Neith.

Response to “Continuation of Egyptian Culture by non-Egyptians”

For some reason I can post my comment to “Continuation of Egyptian Culture by non-Egyptians” post so I posted my comment as a new blog.

Egyptian culture was continued on by non Egyptians after conquests. It is very interesting that all Egypt invaders adopted part or all of Egyptian culture. Why? Maybe, that is why Egypt was always a target. Religion seemed to be the backbone of Egyptian structure. Conquerors maybe knew that they could control the conquered through religion. For example the Persians supported Egyptian religion by building temples to legitimize the Persian King as pharaoh. The Persians were building ethos among the Egyptians. However, the Persians curtailed the temple political power. As you stated the conquerors would want to relate to the conquered but still maintain the highest power. So they put restrictions on what was/wasn’t allowed.

It is interesting that so many nations wanted part in Egypt. Another reason why could be because of the Egyptian strong religious beliefs. The land was good for agriculture and like Egyptians maybe other nations believed it was because of their faith. Because religion is the main thing Egyptians wanted to savor, and all the invaders agreed to learn and practice, so there has to be great significance. Religion and ideological connections is what is thought to have brought Greece and Egypt together. Greek settlers’ cultural elements were infused into Egyptian culture however Egyptian religion always remained.


Analysis of Western Desert and Eastern Desert

The Western and Eastern Deserts were both unique and fascinating.  In our readings there were multiple comparisons made that mainly dealt with how the land was used efficiently during the Greco-Roman times.  To my understanding the Western Desert was mainly used to receive goods from across the Red Sea and then the goods were sent to Roman and vise-versa.  The Western Desert was home to much lively activity including wineries, cult activity, trade, and a possible palace location that would have brought political and military affairs to the area.  This area also shows the possibility of great wealth since it is home to the Valley of the Golden Mummies.  It has been seen throughout the dynastic periods that elites constructed tombs that were distant from their true area of power and in dry areas that preserved all burial remains, but was this also true for these elites?  The remains from houses in the area suggested a diverse community that included written text in Greek, Coptic, and Syriac.  Along with the discovery of this widely diverse group of people was the “East Churches” which is believed to include churches of both Christian domination and a eastern religion.  The foreign influence on the nation continued to grow and is evident in the Eastern Desert. The Eastern Desert also had a widely diverse group of people, but they had to overcome the more harsh and mountainous region. In addition to that difference from the western Desert, the Eastern Desert was home to more military activity and trade.  Much trade occurred across the Red Sea and therefore the need for security was necessary.  Unlike in earlier dynasties, the Greco-Roman period had permanently settled ports which allowed the area to prosper.  A major problem of this area was receiving freshwater.  I found it quite interesting that they dug large wells to solve this problem, and it was very effective.  The mining of gold and quartz also allowed the area to take on a more exotic trade of goods with foreign countries.  It is odd to think that these desert regions were able to create such wealth for themselves when there were so many troubles that they first had to overcome.  The technology of the Greeks seems to have been a good influence for the country and helped it advance above neighboring countries.

Greek and Roman Influences

What interested me the most in the readings for this week were the differing approaches by the conquering Macedonians and Romans.  After King Alexander had taken over Memphis in Egypt, he founded the great city of Alexandria.  Under his rule, Governor Ptolemy, who later became King Ptolemy I set up his Ptolemaic kingdom.  This kingdom became the most powerful of Alexander’s empire of three kingdoms.  Ptolemy I founded a great library, which not only consisted of collected Greek works, but also of papyri in Egyptian.  Many Egyptian documents were also translated into Greek  Even though Alexandria’s dominant culture was Greek, the works of the Egyptians were still treasured and thought of as important.  The Ptolomies also even learned about the Egyptian gods and even adopted some of the local gods. However, the worship of Egyptian cults helped justify their dominance.

While the Ptolemies had much more in contact with Egypt, it was surprising to me that the Roman emperors never set foot in Egypt.  They had a well set up bureaucracy that was ruled by a governor.  The country was greatly exploited by the Romans.   Egyptians were expected to pay an annual poll tax and the country had a substantial military presence to enforce the tax laws and to prevent rebellions and to ensure Roman protection.  Even as early as the 1st century AD, the Romans persecuted the Jews for not sharing their polytheistic views, and later attacked Christians.  It’s interesting to me how poorly Jews and Christians were treated as the Roman Empire began expanding.  And then later in the 3rd century AD, Constantine made Christianity the official religion and every previous persecuted monotheistic believer seemed to be forgotten as the empire still rose in power. It boggles me how in a relatively short amount of time, under the influence of one leader, the belief system of a state can change and be accepted so quickly.

Bonus Post

It is a really difficult task to try to pinpoint what aspect of Egyptian archaeology that was discussed in this class is the most important. Personally, I really enjoyed learning about the different cultures that inhabited Ancient Egypt so I feel that learning about the different cultures is the most important aspect of Egyptian archaeology.  I feel as though the best way to learn more about a specific area is to learn more about the people who once inhabitant the region.  By studying archaeological excavations, we can learn a lot about the religion, social complexity, trading practices, etc, of the culture who used to live at the site.  Specifically, I think that excavating and studying burial grounds is the most efficient way learn more about culture because how someone is buried and the objects they are buried with can really tell you a lot.  For example, simply by looking at the headstones you can learn more about the deceased’s economic and social status.  Also, as stated by archaeologist Lewis Binford, we can get an idea of the social complexity of a culture by looking at the elaboration of the grave.  In other words, the more decorative the grave, the more complex the society was.  Although this is not always the case, as suggested by the criticisms people have concerning Binford’s proposed theory, it is a good indicator.  However, other people may argue that studying the architecture of a site is the best way to learn about what went on in that location long ago.  But, for example, how can you learn about social complexity and trading practices that occur within a culture simply by looking at architecture?  In my opinion, studying culture, specifically with the help of burial ground excavations, is the most important topic in Egyptian archaeology because it is the best way to do what archaeology is supposed to do – study human society through material culture.




Extra Blog- Pyramid Workers, the Most Important Part of Egypt

I think that it is very hard to pin down the one most important aspect in Egyptian archeology. I am a psychology major, and so maybe a little more predisposed to the people side of things, but I think that the most important thing that I learned about was the history of the pyramid builders. This is what I am doing my research article on and I find it not only important but fascinating. It is easy to look at the pyramids and see that they are important but I think that it is too easy to overlook the people that made them. Politics and religion, craftsmanship and common labor, all had a hand in the building of these pyramids. They were built only by Egyptians, no foreigners were allowed to work on them, and I believe they show what ancient Egypt was as a whole. I think that the pyramids were more than just a symbol of power of the pharaoh. People came from all over the country to volunteer to work for the nation. It was a way for them to leave their small towns and see the greater part of Egypt. The pyramid projects brought the country together and gave all the citizens something to be proud of. They were a real representation of a united nation that worked together on a common goal.

Archeologists study the pyramids to learn about this fascinating ancient culture that was capable of such works of architectural wonder. Generations of children learn about the pyramids and become fascinated with stories of aliens that built them. I think that the truth of who really built them is more interesting. I’m pretty sure that we would not be able to get the entire country to work together to build something like this in the United States now. I think that this public projects show how strong of a government system was in place during this time. It shows more than just the economic stability of the country, it shows the pride that people took in their country and the genuine love they had for their pharaohs. Graffiti found on the walls show that the men were happy and loyal to their rulers. I think that the human side of the pyramids is much more interesting, and maybe even more important, than the actual building side of it.

Looking at the pyramids as a whole you can piece together ancient Egyptian culture in many forms. Looking at the pyramid villages, where the full time pyramid workers lived, you can see a typical day in their lives. A pyramid has been filled with everything that was thought to be needed in the afterlife, clothe and gold and food and sometimes even servants. But I find it interesting to think about who made and stocked the goods in the first place. The majority of the people in ancient Egypt were not rich or royal. They were normal people who were the laborers and creators of not only the pyramids but of society. I think they are very worth study.

Valley of the Golden Mummies

In 1996 the Supreme Council of Antiquities found a large cemetery that appeared to have been formed during the Greco-Roman period near a wine making town in Bahariya Oasis. I would love to try some of the wine from the Bahariya Oasis region – even if it wasn’t the “favored wine” of the time. What was equally interesting about this region was something a guard of “Alexander the Great” tomb discovered while traveling with his donkey. His donkey stumbled into a hole – in which five tombs were located. One hundred and five mummies were recovered and divided into four different socio-ecomonic classes based on how they were preserved and what was buried in their proximity.

The highest of these were sixty mummies located in a large tomb entered via a rock-cut staircase. They were carefully wrapped in linen and covered with gold plated masks on their cartonnage casings and some had gold foil over the chests. The next highest class of mummy was still wrapped in linen but only on their upper parts and they were painted with pictures of Egyptian deities. Paint must have been cheaper than gold. The third highest were wrapped in linen and placed in geometric shapes on the tomb floor. Finally, the lowest burial status mummies were poorly wrapped in linen and had no decorations or paintings.

I find the progression of burial methods interesting in that highest classes of burials were time intensive and value laden, however the lowest level of burial was poorly wrapped in linen. It was as if time itself was or had become a resource not worth wasting even in order to perform the most basic of burial ritual. It would be interesting to find out if the burial methods occurred simultaneously in time and by whom, or if the burial methods declined as the power of the Egyptian kingdom declined and it citizens suffered financial strife?