A Day in Historical Archaeology

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As I said in my previous post, archaeology is my main field of study within anthropology. In archaeology, there are two main sub fields: prehistoric and historical archaeology. Right now, I am in ANTH 349: Historical Archaeology, taught by Dr. Kelly Jenks. In this class we learn about the aspects of historical archaeology, and what historical archaeologists do.

My observation of the class was limited, as this day (16 February 2015) we watched a documentary on underwater archaeology and the recovery of sunken 17th century ship called La Belle. However, I was still able to get a relatively clear observation of the class in general.

Hull of the ship La Belle, excavated off the coast of Texas. "French Shipwreck to Be Rebuilt after Freeze Drying Process." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.
Hull of the ship La Belle, excavated off the coast of Texas. “French Shipwreck to Be Rebuilt after Freeze Drying Process.” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.

Throughout my time in this class I have always felt excited and eager at the beginning of each lesson. Why? Well, I have always had an interest in the history of the world. Learning about it through historical archaeology makes it a lot easier (and a lot more exciting) to learn.

As for the class, we were very quiet at the beginning of the semester, I will admit. Over the past few weeks, however, our relationships with each other have grown. At the beginning and during our break in the middle of class, we all talk with each other (it is a small class, with no more than thirteen people). The professor, Dr. Jenks, joins in a lot of the times as well. It has helped us learn easier as a class and succeed in helping us with many of the group assignments we participate in during class.

While class continues on and our professor begins her lecture, I notice that everyone’s eyes are facing forward towards Dr. Jenks. She has our undivided attention as she teaches us about historical archaeology. My fellow scholars and I are always prepared to take notes during the class, writing down information that will aid us in our future careers as anthropologists and archaeologists.

This class is a very tight knit group. I always anticipate what will be happening the next day as we meet, discuss, and challenge each other to continue our learning in the field of archaeology.

Ruins of a stucture to be examined by historical archaeologists. "Historical Archaeology| Archaeological Discoveries, Disciplines." Historical Archaeology| Archaeological Discoveries, Disciplines. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.
Ruins of a stucture to be examined by historical archaeologists. “Historical Archaeology| Archaeological Discoveries, Disciplines.” Historical Archaeology| Archaeological Discoveries, Disciplines. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.

 

What is Anthropology?

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Not many people completely understand what anthropology entails. In fact, I didn’t even completely understand what it was before I chose it as my major. I thought it was just a means to becoming an archaeologist. So, what exactly is anthropology? Well the technical definition of anthropology is the study of people anywhere and at any time, past, present, or future. The field of anthropology is separated into four sub fields: archaeology, biological anthropology linguistic anthropology, and socio-cultural anthropology.

Archaeology, the first sub field and the discipline I wish to pursue, involves the study of past cultures through cultural material. This diverges into two other fields: prehistorical and historical archaeology. Prehistorical archaeology involves the excavation and study of material found at archaeological sites predating any sort of written records. Historical archaeology involves studying both cultural material and written records of past cultures.

Archaeology

 

Archaeological Dig

The second field of anthropology, biological anthropology, deals with studying the physical and behavioral aspects of humans. This involves studying our past ancestors and how we evolved from prehistoric apes. As well, in forensic anthropology, it deals with examining the bodies of the deceased for law enforcement purposes.

Next, there’s linguistic anthropology. This has to deal with studying the languages of human’s around the world, past and present. It also deals with studying how a culture’s perspective of the world gave way to how they created their language. In other words, linguistic anthropologists study the connection between humans and language.

Finally, there’s socio-cultural anthropology. These anthropologists study the cultures of today, from American TV culture to African Bushmen. They use a studying technique known as participant observation, where they live with a culture, participate in their daily lives, and observe what goes on. Through this technique, they create detailed ethnographies that detail everyday lives of a culture.

Through these sub fields, anthropologists have learned much about cultures and humans, past and present. Anthropologists have mapped the human and Neanderthal genome, explored the Great Pyramids of Giza, and deciphered languages thought to be lost. We must ask, “what will be the next great anthropological discovery?”

rosetta

 

Rosetta Stone