What Archaeology Entails

“Archaeology for the Public.” Society for American Archaeology. Web. 2015. 20 April 2015.

http://www.saa.org/publicftp/public/educators/03_whatis.html

This site describes what Archaeology is, how it helps us understand history and culture, the different types of Archaeology, what an archaeological site is, what artifacts features and ecofacts are, and the significance of the context they are found in. This source gives a person a thorough idea of what Archaeology is and what the job involves. It involves a great deal of work and patience. To maintain the integrity of the artifacts Archaeologists have to work slowly and carefully.

Definition of Contemporary Archaeology

“Archaeology of the Contemporary.” University of York Department of Archaeology. Web. 2015. 20 April 2015.

https://www.york.ac.uk/archaeology/research/current-projects/contemporary-past/

This site defines what Contemporary Archaeology is very well: “People’s definitions vary, but for me this is a period of study that deals literally with the contemporary past, the world we have experienced and shaped through our daily lives and practices” (University of York Department of Archaeology). Contemporary Archaeology would probably be easier to find jobs in because an Archaeologist in this field could work for companies. They would study a culture, the people, and then see what people use the most; they would then report back to the business they work for using that to create a product that meet the peoples demands.

Discussions Between Archaeologists

“CHAT – Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory.” University College London. Web. n.d. 20 April 2015.

http://www.contemp-hist-arch.ac.uk/

This source is the webpage for the organization, Chat (Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory.) This organization is comprised of Archaeologists, it is a place to unify and discuss Anthropological matters. As stated on the website: “The CHAT group was established in February 2003 to provide opportunities for dialogue to develop among researchers in the fields of later historical archaeology and the archaeology of the contemporary world” (University College London).

Journal Articles from Fellow Archaeologists

Harrison, Rodney. “Journal of Contemporary Archaeology.” Equinox. Web. n.d. 20 April 2015.

http://www.equinoxpub.com/journals/index.php/JCA

This source is an Archaeological journal, from University College London: “Journal of Contemporary Archaeology is the first dedicated, international, peer-reviewed journal to explore archaeology’s specific contribution to understanding the present and recent past” (Harrison). This is a good source to examine other Archaeologists opinions and approach to different methods in the field. They cover a wide range of topics pertaining to the field and allow discussions from fellow researchers. They also have photo essays and share stories about different experiences. Questions can also be submitted and sometimes are answered.

A Holistic View of Archaeology

“Questions About: Archaeology As A Career.” Society for American Archaeology. Web. n.d. 25 April 2015.

http://www.saa.org/ForthePublic/FAQs/ForAdults/QuestionsAboutArchaeologyAsACareer/tabid/975/Default.aspx

This website gives an excellent summary of where an Archaeologist can work, what Archaeologists do, how much money they make, how many job availabilities there are, how long they work each day, and traveling. This is a highly credible website, knowing much about the field of Archaeology. Archaeologists do not just dig up historic artifacts: “Archaeologists are employed by federal and state government agencies, museums and historic sites, colleges and universities, and engineering firms with cultural resource management divisions. Some archaeologists work as consultants or form their own companies” (Society for American Archaeology). There are many people who make the assumption that Archaeologists do not make a lot of money. This can be true, it depends on where they work, and if they have a PHD; an Archeologist can make a decent amount of money if they are really good and they earn a doctorate degree: “a professor or a museum curator at a large research institution who has a PhD, many years of experience, and has produced many publications, may earn $80,000 to $100,000 a year.  An average salary for an archaeologist with an advanced degree and several years of experience managing projects and staff is approximately $45,000” (Society for American Archaeology).

What Getting a Degree in Archaeology Involves

“Archaeology and Anthropology at Oxford University.” YouTube. Web. 22 October 2013. 20 April 2015.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KUGumokwnA

Oxford University, located in London, can be argued that it is one of the best places to gain a degree in Archaeology. This video shows a glimpse of the amount of work there is involved in obtaining a degree in Archaeology. It also tells us a little bit about the field itself. Archaeology is essentially a holistic study of a group of people using material objects. As Elizabeth Ewart, a tutor at Oxford, puts it: “to understand what it is to be human, you have to understand how we engage with the material world” (Oxford University).

Protecting Historical Sites

“Archaeologists Study 3,000 Skeletons at London’s Bedlam.” NBCNEWS. Web. 9 March 2015. 20 April 2015.

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/weird-science/archaeologists-study-3-000-skeletons-londons-bedlam-n320326

The news reporter for NBCNEWS explains, in this video, how Archaeologists found 400 year old bones; the bones were about to be destroyed because the original plan for the location was going to undergo construction (NBCNEWS). Archaeologists make sure that locations do not have historical artifacts or significance, before companies start building. The bones were located in London; this specific find was of bones that dated back to “the London Fire, civil wars, and the Great Plague” (NBCNEWS)

Tools and Techniques Archaeologists Use

“The Excavation Process: The Excavation Technique.” YouTube. Web. 5 July 2012. 20 April 2015.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9pGbpIPU-Y

This video explains some of the techniques used by Archaeologists when they are digging. Archaeologist have to be extra careful when they are excavating so they don’t damage the artifacts. To do this there are methods used and tools that make it easier to get the job done. Dr. Loren Davis, an Archaeologist, who teaches at Oregon State University explains throughout this video how tools are used while excavating cites.

Archaeologists Solve War Crimes

Myers, David. “Unearthing Evil: Archaeology in the Cause of Justice.” YouTube. 14 January 2015.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEZS_SABcLM

This video contains content that may not be suitable for all ages. Be aware that gruesome evidence of dehumanization through photographs, blood, and bones are within this video. The Forensic Archaeologist in this video proved by his findings that a genocide occurred. Had he not studiously followed the evidence a whole genocide would have gone unnoticed by the government (YouTube). The mass grave he found is a reminder of the Jewish mass graves, that were created, and then all the Jews were lined up and gunned down in them. This incredible Forensic Archaeologist helped the UN put away the man responsible for these war crimes and it would not have happened, had he not continued his pursuit of justice.

The Four Branches of Anthropology

Peterson, Mark. University of Miami. “What Is Anthropology?” YouTube. Web. 1 September 2014. 19 April 2015.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2IUVnnteNs

This video by Professor Mark Peterson, of Anthropology-175, at the University of Miami goes over the sub-fields of Anthropology. One of the sub-fields of Anthropology is Archaeology. Within Archaeology there are different branches; there are four branches of Archaeology. One, Prehistoric Archaeology: which is simply studying humans from the past, before there was written word. Historic Archaeology: studying humans from the past, after there was written documentation. Underwater Archaeology: studying past artifacts that are under bodies of water. Finally, the branch that most people do not realize exist within the Sub-field of Archaeology, Archaeology of Contemporary Life: which is just studying the objects, used by humans, of present-day. Most people don’t realize that Archaeologists also study present day human beings. Archaeologist can work for businesses to try and find things that people could use; then the business would be able to make things that would sell. For instance, if an Archaeologist studies 20 families for a month, and discovers that families are always on the go, and could use a fast and easy way to make a meal for the whole family to enjoy; companies could use that information to create a product that could be more beneficial to the families and the company (making them more money.)

Layers of the Earth Tell a Story

stratigraphy

“Archaeological Digs-Part 1: Excavation.” Traveling Classroom. Web. 27 April 2015. 27 April 2015.

http://travelingclassroom.org/?p=336

This picture depicts the way Archaeologists categorize the layers of earth. Doing this helps determine how old the artifact is (i.e. if it is in one of the deeper layers of earth than we know it was more ancient; if it is in a higher layer of earth then we know it is more recent/not as old) the type of sediment it is found in can tell us a lot about the age and use of an artifact. There are different ways of testing the age of an artifact depending on what it is and where it is found. For instance Radiocarbon dating, also known as Carbon-14 dating, is a way to date the artifact to the time frame it was used.

Samples from the Earth

arcar03b

“Archaeological Excavation: Introduction to Archaeology.” Canadian Museum of History. Web. n.d. 20 April 2015.

http://www.historymuseum.ca/cmc/exhibitions/aborig/tsimsian/arcarche.shtml

In this picture you can see an Archaeologist taking samples from the grid (the square boxes stringed along the site) to be tested. The grid is setup: “in general, however, to record the relationships between artifacts, features and samples, archaeologists first map and grid a site, establishing squares of uniform dimensions” (Canadian Museum of History). They then proceed to research the samples taken: “then they excavate the deposits within these squares and record the position of what they find in terms of its distance and depth from one or more fixed reference points” (Canadian Museum of History). This process is known as Stratigraphy: “stratigraphy is a basic concept of archaeology. Simply, this means that the oldest remains at a site are found at the deepest levels, with the more recent in progressive layers one on top of the other, up to the present-day surface of the ground” (Canadian Museum of History). Stratigraphy is used in every excavation.

How to Proceed After Making a Find

Post-Excavation_Analysis_Processes

A diagram displaying post-excavation analysis steps derived from Grant, Jim, Sam Gorin, and Neil Fleming 2002 The Archaeology Coursebook: An Introduction to Study Skills, Topics and Methods. Psychology Press.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-excavation_analysis#/media/File:Post-Excavation_Analysis_Processes.jpg

This diagram goes over the process of what happens with the artifacts after the excavation. As you can see it is a lot of work and most of it (if not all of it) is done by an Archaeologist. This routine is completed with each artifact, it is not all fun and games, when something is found everything must be studied and sorted out with proper care. If the process of the excavation and analysis of the findings are not done with care it is hard to get a full in depth analysis of the people/artifacts being studied. One little slip up could mean knowing if a rock was chipped during the excavation or if the people used it as a tool. It is important to understand historic artifacts, having a good understanding of our past, can help us to understand the present and why we do what we do.

The Soldiers Untold Story

Waterloo-Skeleton-Soldier

Lobell, A. Jarrett. “A Soldier’s Story.” Archaeological Institute of America. Web. 8 February 2013. April 20 2015.

http://www.archaeology.org/issues/79-1303/features/535-waterloo-british-soldier-dominique-bosquet

This skeleton was a British soldier that fought in the battle of Waterloo, in 1815 (Lobell). Archaeologists can uncover the hidden truths about forgotten people, like this one, that never received a proper burial. The archaeologist that found the forgotten soldier conserved a significant piece of history: “he found the soldier while excavating before construction near the battle monument known as the Lion’s Mound” (Lobell). This find is a perfect example of why archaeologists are so important! If they do not check locations before they undergo construction, we could lose a piece of our history, gone forever, unable to be restored. “Sometimes a soldier’s story ends with his death on the battlefield” (Lobell). It is an Archaeologists’ job to figure out what that story was and to share it with others.

The Symbolic Meaning of Ritual Burials

131216154328_1_540x360

New York University. “Neanderthals buried their dead, new research of remains concludes.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 December 2013.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131216154328.htm

The photograph above, is a Neanderthal, some archaeologists think it was purposefully buried. This find started a major debate: “their conclusions have sparked controversy in the scientific community ever since, with skeptics maintaining that the discovery had been misinterpreted and that the burial may not have been intentional” (New York University). This find is extremely important because if the Neanderthals did purposefully bury their dead, it can give us a time frame of (when burying the dead) first started. Burying the dead has significant symbolic meaning; which is why it is important to know if the Neanderthals practiced this cultural custom. “While we cannot know if this practice was part of a ritual or merely pragmatic, the discovery reduces the behavioral distance between them and us” (New York University).

Importance of Layout Sketching

Image 7

“Student Notebooks.” Archaeological Institute of America. Web. 2015. 20 April 2015.

http://www.archaeological.org/interactivedigs/blackfriaryireland/students

This picture depicts a layout sketch that a student made of an archaeological dig site. Every excavation must be carefully and diligently recorded so that you know where artifacts were found. Field work can be very fun while you unearth artifacts, it also involves meticulous note taking. Artifacts’ locations and the layer of earth it was found in must be recorded in case there are later discoveries; that way you can look back and see if there was a connection that was missed. It is common for there to be things overlooked and that is why note taking is so important when excavating.

The Silent Story She Told

1192_Wood_0Wood, Susan. “Women in Action: A Statue of Matidia Minor and Its Contexts.” AJA Online. Web. April 2015. 20 April 2015.

http://www.ajaonline.org/article/2056

This Roman replica showcases the features Roman statues are known for: formal/serious looking poses, non-fluid features in the body and muscles of the figure, and the hair in tight curls tamed to her head. This sculpture was found on: “excavations at the Antonine-era theater at Suessa Aurunca have yielded an unorthodox statue of the building’s patron, Matidia Minor, the sister of Hadrian’s wife, Sabina. This statue now permits the identification of Matidia’s portrait in six additional replicas” (Wood). This simple sculpture can help us to better understand the time period from when it was created, in the Roman Empire: “analysis of this statue in relation both to the portraiture and to the ideal statuary of the same era may allow for a broader understanding of the roles of elite women in Roman society in the Antonine era and of the iconography that expressed those roles” (Wood).

The History Beneath Our Feet

Laino, Flo. “The School of Navigation.” 100 Minories. Web. 2015. 20 April 2015.

http://100minories.lparchaeology.com/the-london-school-of-navigation/

This blog post is about the: “the Georgian buildings of the Crescent, Circus and America Square survived up until the 1940s, when like so much of London they suffered severe bomb damage” (Laino). It includes photos, of the historical content of the previous building that was built over after the war. This is another building that Archaeologist looked at before construction took place. They saved photographic evidence of the building (post-war) and in a different photo dairy they show pictures of the what the foundation looked like before the war.

Contemporary Photography’s Impact on Archaeology

Morgan, Colleen. “CAA 2015: The Death (and Afterlife) of Archaeological Photography.” WordPress.com. Web. 1 April 2015. 20 April 2015.

https://middlesavagery.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/caa-2015-the-death-and-afterlife-of-archaeological-photography/

Archaeologists study cultures; this article, by Colleen Morgan is a good example of how Archaeologist examine diminishing cultures. She examines the new generation of photography and the death of the non-modified photography: “the networked image has both decentered the “reality” of the photograph by hosting endless modifications and reproductions of the image while at the same time providing the ability to reference (or trace) the original “real” work” (Morgan). She embraces this cultural change and thinks it is now a part of Archaeology that must be accepted. She states: “it is within this media ecology that we must understand archaeological photography, not simply as a separate methodology, but as part of a network of personal and professional digital practice” (Morgan).

Archaeology is not like Indiana Jones

Dr. Schuldenrein, Joseph. “Spreading the Word: Writing about Archaeology and Interviewing Archaeologist. Player FM. Web.

https://player.fm/series/indiana-jones-myth-reality-and-21st-century-archaeology/spreading-the-word-writing-about-archaeology-and-interviewing-archaeologists

Dr. Joseph Schuldenrein, an Archaeologist, discusses his adventures and what it means to be an Archaeologist in this podcast. He explains the myth surrounding Archaeology, the Indiana Jones adventures, is incorrect it has more to do with science: “a lot of Archaeology is hard science, recounting, and discussing elements of science that ultimately lead to how we got where we are” (Schuldenrein). In this podcast Dr. Schuldenrein interviews a journalist that reaches out to the public, he tries to grab the audience’s attention, and enlighten them about archaeological findings.