Monday, January 01, 2007

A New Year, a New Mission

I'll be changing the purpose of this blog in the next weeks. First off, starting a designer's journal for a dissertation after having written 75% of the dissertation is a bad plan. Second, I've decided I don't like the idea of a designer's journal, too egocentric.

I'm still deciding what to do with this blog, but it will likely become a place to discuss new archaeological discoveries, and put them in perspective. This may well develop in conjuction with the Introduction to Archaeology course I am teaching this semester.

So here's a good start.

This article from Halifax, Nova Scotia
, mentions some new historical archaeological discoveries under that city. But it also discusses the importance of archaeology as a hands-on scientific experience. This is one of the great strengths of archaeology. It deals with material culture, which can be understood by anyone at some level. Of course there can be theory or technical issues requiring substantial amounts of education and jargon control. But putting that all aside, I can put a fragment of a drinking glass, or a religious medal, or a kitchen knife, or a hammer stone into someone's hand, and there is a basic human connection to people from another time, another society, another culture, another world.

Futhermore, archaeology is about pattern recognition and detective work. Archaeology can be literally hands on artifacts, and it can also be hands on data. Inspired by Dr. Robert Drennan of the University of Pittsburgh, I have found great utility in giving archaeological data to students so that they can "do the math" and solve research questions. Even if they never think about archaeology again in a professional manner, students can learn how to judge evidence and make reality-based conclusions. A predisposition to reality has been lacking in some quarters as of late.

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