Digging in Dirt- The Pleasures of Archaeology


Now and Then

https://serc.si.edu/projects/archaeology-storymap/archaeology-storymap

I dig archaeology.  I used to think about it all the time.Teaching grades that explored ancient cultures and reading David McCauley’s books, and exploring cultures with students was exciting.

Pyramid , Through concise text and richly detailed black and white illustrations we come to know the philosophy of life and death in ancient Egypt.

I wanted to be an Egyptian archaeologist, and then I went to Egypt. Hot, hot, hot and then hot. There was fun in observing recent excavations and some new sharing of finding. A surprise to me was that the interior of tombs and structures was so beautiful and low.

I am tall so I had to bend down a lot to keep from striking my head.The blocks used to build the pyramid are almost as tall as me. The air was musty and a surprise was the inscriptions inside the walls of the tombs. Hard to photograph.

When you go to a site, there is the weather, the wind, and many steps to get to a viewing point. Egypt was difficult because the heat  made me thirsty too. But it was exciting to be there. I actually learned a lot more about Egyptian Archaeology in the British museum.

Following Catherwood, you would think that there were few sites in Central America. But the jungle uncovers various sites now and then. Archaeology there is interesting. The Mayan Sites are there to be climbed and excavated. The sites are usually on high ground as the communication was by fire and shell horns. On one site I could see all the way to Guatemala. Climbing was difficult. There were no safety bars and getting down from some of the Mayan sites was tricky. Sometimes I would only go halfway up . Under the temples there are royal seats and places to explore and sometimes a scorpion or interesting insects.

 

There are even more sites to examine and learn about.

 

 

11015474_10153044272006327_4870000509832721848_n

1910475_9664561326_4015_n

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRd0EaW7pz01Y0FIEMQ0a18aDo1JRJSId3tBz7IMKRv4g_h2islxw

 

“Archaeology is the study of the ancient and recent human past through material remains. It is a subfield of anthropology, the study of all human culture. From million-year-old fossilized remains of our earliest human ancestors in Africa, to 20th century buildings in present-day New York City, archaeology analyzes the physical remains of the past in pursuit of a broad and comprehensive understanding of human culture.” Source

I actually participated in a dig in Deia, Mallorca , Spain through an Earthwatch Grant from the Wildcat Foundation. We know about the Beaker people who constructed Sun circles. The most prominent one is in England.

There is archaeology in your backyard. In Southern Maryland we investigated Saint Mary’s City. The Smithsonian Estuary Center, SERC has archaeology for Citizen Scientists too.

Of all the artifacts Native Americans of the Chesapeake left behind, the most abundant at SERC are oyster shell middens. Essentially early trash piles, middens are clusters of shells that Native Americans and some early settlers discarded after eating the meat inside. They can endure for millennia. SERC has 31 recorded oyster middens on its property, the oldest dating back to 1250 B.C.E.

There are many places to study Archaeology.

Here and There

These middens have led to some surprising discoveries about Native Americans’ past, and their environmental legacy today. It was once a common belief that Native Americans and the first settlers rarely ate blue crabs, because blue crab remains seldom turned up in archaeological sites. But after a more thorough investigation with scientists at the National Museum of Natural History, SERC scientists discovered blue crab remains were far more common in shell middens than previously thought. They also showed that blue crab remains are fragile and do not preserve very well, except for the tips of their claws.  The claw tips showed that not only did Native American catch and eat blue crabs in addition to oysters, but they caught substantially larger crabs than typically seen today. Furthermore, unlike most modern trash piles, oyster middens have positive environmental impacts still felt in the present. Soils with oyster middens beneath them contain more nutrients, and host a greater diversity of native flora, than soils without them.

Many questions remain: Why is there a 900-year gap in the ages of oyster middens around the Rhode River, spanning 800 B.C.E. to 150 C.E.? Did Native Americans only use the property as seasonal fishing and hunting grounds, or were there ever any permanent villages? Researchers continue to sift through the remains in search of answers.

Of all the artifacts Native Americans of the Chesapeake left behind, the most abundant at SERC are oyster shell middens. Essentially early trash piles, middens are clusters of shells that Native Americans and some early settlers discarded after eating the meat inside. They can endure for millennia. SERC has 31 recorded oyster middens on its property, the oldest dating back to 1250 B.C.E.

 

TEACHER FELLOWSHIPS

Earthwatch is looking for teachers who are passionate about teaching, excited about making a difference with their time and talents, and interested in conservation, environmental sustainability, and lifelong learning.

By engaging teachers, Earthwatch strives to inspire and build a future generation of leaders who value the environment and prioritize it in their everyday choices.

When teachers return from the field, they share their experiences with students, colleagues, family, and friends through stories, lessons, and community action. Fellows truly embody the Earthwatch mission and are critical to our success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s