Public Archaeology and Education

Both Moe and Jeppson believe archaeology should be taught in public education. Where they differ is that Moe (2002) explains the Project Archaeology program while Jeppson (2008) explains that archaeology is considered a “social study” that is taught from kindergarten to fourth grade. However, Jeppson continues to explain how social studies then branches into specific educational fields from fifth thru 12th grade. As this occurs social studies is becoming less of a focus for studies.

Moe did a fantastic job painting a picture of the project that was being held, however, in the time it was written only nine states had adapted the Project Archaeology program. Those states include Utah, Oregon, Arizona, Alaska, New Mexico, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Alabama. The program is a great hands-on experience that allows students to better understand the general concept of the approach archaeologist take. This project has allowed for students to be filled with beneficial information that encourages them to ask more questions, especially as they age. Project Archaeology is not only a hands-on approach, it also provides lessons. These lessons teach the students about the past and how to better understand culture. Not only are the students learning something new, but most educators as well. The schools that engage in this project train their educators so they could properly inform and engage the students.

Jeppson (2008) takes a bit of a different approach. Jeppson informs the reader about the lack of teaching being done. Jeppson tells us how most archaeologist do not wish to become educators and how teaching archaeology in schools is controversial. By allowing schools, k-12, to teach about archaeology is compared to teaching about creationism. This becomes problematic because of the separation that needs to be made between schools and religion.  Through thought and review I believe there needs to be a combination of what Moe and Jeppson address.

Compare Project Archaeology to the Hidalgo County Public Cemetery Project (HCPCP). Our class is a hands-on experience while also offering lessons. I believe our project could be considered a gate-way to teaching archaeology in public education. When teaching students at a younger age about all the unanswered questions we almost all ask will intrigue the students. We will have already introduced the subject to these students that may find a passion for it. Through education while growing up it is a responsibility to teach the students everything they can to allow them to find their passion. In middle and high school, we learn a lot about the important wars and challenges that changed a portion of our history (i.e. WWII, The Great Depression, 9/11, etc), but a lot of schools are not teaching about what came before that. In offering hands-on teaching experiences and more relocatable historical changes we can better encourage students to learn and understand not only ourselves but others. They will understand local cultures as well as others. (This could encourage against the possibility of ethnocentrism). I can confirm, had my high school offered similar opportunities to the ones I have been offered in college I would have enjoyed myself a lot more and I would not feel behind. Our project could offer high school students the chance to broaden their knowledge.

Communicating Archaeology

The “Hidden Audience” described by Allen (2002) is like writing to your biggest critic. In working on our project I feel as though we do not have a biggest critic, other than ourselves maybe. Our project is being conducted in such a positive and excited way that I do not think any of the members fear reaching a critic. Our “hidden audience” could be someone and it could be no one. It may even be people in academia. There is a fear in not sounding smart enough in front of a professor, professional, anyone who is knowledgeable in something you may not be. However, our project has received nothing but positivity from the audience it has reached. I feel our “hidden audience” may not be as hidden as we anticipate.

Next, I personally do not exactly see Allen’s 10 Rules applied to pieces I have read. A lot of articles that are assigned in my classes are written for a mature, educated audience. The articles will state many pieces of information that is likely not understandable to an individual that is not a part of the project. I have had a similar conversation with other students and they agreed that a lot of articles that are assigned are statistical and contains very strange math. However, there have been a few readings I have been assigned that were far easier to understand because it was written as a story. The author stated in the beginning of the story that it is often complicated for an anthropologist/ archaeologist to write their story and findings without sounding egocentric (thinking of oneself). With this information stated in the beginning, I was unaware of what to expect. The book was well-written and engaging. He explained his experiences while also focusing on the data he collected. I noticed that there are few articles or academic books that provide an insight as explained, but I found when they do the reading is far more easy to read and understand.

For our project, we should be telling positive stories of our time there and our discoveries. Usually, the second I tell an individual that I attend class at a cemetery it is automatically assumed I will be digging up bodies. Or awkwardly standing and observing the cemetery. We should tell stories that educate and provide a positive insight on what is being done at the cemetery. After I correct the individual on their preconceived notion I share with the, what the project is about and our short and long-term goals. I tell the individuals that on our very first day we ever went out to the cemetery to perform our work, the very first grave I came across happened to be an individual that died the same day and date, except 40 years prior. I tell the individuals about the offerings we find, or even the animal remains. I share these stories in ways they understand and relate to. I share the stories with such excitement and knowledge about what our project is about that they become informed of the cemetery now, or I am thought of from time-to-time when they stumble upon other cemetery research.

Engaging with Publics Online

Personally, I have taken this course for the past two semesters and I found it to be a positive and wonderful project, however,  I never quite felt like we were reaching an audience. The internet is expressed as being the platform individuals go to in reaching their updates on the world. This proves to be true but I also have experienced individuals that have taken a stance on the internet because it often provides a lot of negative information. There are also individuals that struggle to access internet or media platforms and prefer to get their information from the news.

I am an individual that does not focus my primary finds in either, though if I had to choose one, I get  most of my information online. With this said, I do not have a lot of social media. I have gone through Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Facebook, and more. The only social media platforms I have left are Snapchat, Tumblr, and Facebook. With these three social media platforms I hardly check either of them. Instead, I read my Google picked articles that are selected for me everyday. This is my source of information, and if I am feeling a bit fancy I will watch the news.

Now, this story is not to share my distance towards the internet. Instead, it is to share that I am a younger individual and I, myself, cannot seem to tolerate social media for long. Rocks-Macqueen mentions that there is no way we could use all social media and I agree with this statement. In my first couple semester attending university I was involved in the Anthropology Club as Public Relations. I was given social media accounts we had as a club as was instructed to post frequently to ensure our followers were up-to-date. Initially I thought this was a fantastic idea until I quickly realized it was impossible for me to post on five different accounts in the split of a second the update our followers. In time, we reduced our social media appearance and I found that to be more manageable. The club was then reduced to Facebook and Instagram.

For our project, I am torn between these two platforms for our project because I am unaware of the follow count on each, generally. Both platforms have made advancements that are great for our project, such as offering a “going live” feature. With this feature our followers could watch what we are doing in real time and have the opportunity to ask questions as well. Considering we are reaching a larger audience I believe that Facebook may be the better source of information because it could be treated similar to a blog whereas Instagram would be composed more as pictures. Additionally, because our graves date to earlier times we are likely reaching an assumed older audience. Because Facebook (2004) had been around for a longer time period than Instagram (2010) a larger portion of our audience may be more likely to have Facebook accounts than Instagram accounts. Lastly, though blogging is interesting I believe this website reaches a more academia audience than a general public audience for the fact that before this class I have been completely unaware of this website.

Final Reflection – Spring 2018

Having taken this course before I was a bit hesitant about the new opportunities it would offer. Though I was nervous, Dr. Rowe provided such amazing news at the end of last semester and at the beginning of the new semester about how our project was developing. Recent developments showed we would be getting additional technology and more acknowledgement towards our project. My first semester working on this project was certainly fun, but this semester was a little more fun and exciting because the project moved more smoothly. Last semester we were still figuring out technology and constantly running through the same grave sites to redocument their data. While this semester we still encountered those troubles, it was reduced extremely, and we had more people working allowing us to move at a faster pace. With everyone working together and effectively we have been able to document so many graves at a much smoother, faster rate and that was real exciting news to hear. Another thing that was exciting was having the news people come out to the cemetery to see what we do. With the reporter came a few people to talk about their family members that were buried at the cemetery. I had no problem being on the news or included for even a second, but I decided that I would keep it low and just work on what needs to be done. As I worked on one of the graves, the two females that came with the reporter began walking up to me and questioning what the class does when we find an individuals family member, how we go about the data we find, etc. I provided the best answers I could offer, and the two females were pleased. Next thing I notice they are talking about a distant cousin that was buried just a few graves away from the grave I was working on at the time. This semester has been insanely exciting because I was able to work with equipment I did not get much time with last semester. I am now more comfortable with documenting information online and I move at a much faster pace because I have gotten the hang of the system, though I do constantly finding myself referring back to the cheat sheet we are provided. So far, my favorite piece of equipment is the Total Station. I do not have much experience working on the actual station but I have had an acceptable amount of experience with holding the Prism. In all honesty, it might be my favorite thing. In addition to using the walkie talkies. We have been working at an incredible pace that it is truly satisfying. I catch myself wondering what we will do next. There is still so much more work to be done but at the efficiency the class has been working on I have no doubt that everything will be getting put together in the next couple years. The whole project is amazing but there is only one thing that tends to make it difficult and that is the weather. Last semester, in addition to learning the equipment, the heat made it difficult to work as effectively. This semester it has been much easier to work effectively because the weather was cooler a majority of the time. On an occasion or two we were rained out near the end of class. I thought that was exciting because everyone was rushing to get the equipment covered up and put away while others were out there finishing up the grave they were working on, me being one of those people. Near the end of the semester is when the heat started coming back but with the water that is provided for us it always makes it a little easier to get work done! The cemetery is a very interesting place. When we returned to the site there was so much color and it really showed that individuals do continue to come and see their family members and place new offerings. With that came other interesting finds that some of the new teammates found when they went adventuring around the site. That is another cool feature of the project. Fresh eyes could find new things that in other words would have gone unnoticed. That brings me to my most exciting find! One day I was looking around the cemetery and I found old animal remains and it was super interesting for me because I felt like I was a detective looking at everything that was around the animal and imagining the life it lived on its final days. Unfortunately, for the semester, the class had to come to an end and with that came planning for next semester! The project finished off on a positive note. We mapped almost all the graves on our final day at the site and it was all done over the course of a year, give or take. On our final day of the semester we wrapped up with our progress throughout the semester and began to plan for the upcoming year. There are so many great and exciting things planned up ahead for the team and the community! We thought of ways to better the effectiveness of the project and how we would incorporate our new plans. Laying out the cemetery and transferring data will be a lot of work but once the data is all put together and sorted the team will be seeing great results. Unfortunately, I will not be able to see the project all the way through, but with what I was exposed to, I had so much fun and learned so much. If I am ever able to offer my time to the project, I will because with all the upcoming projects to fulfill our ultimate goal it will be super exciting and a great learning opportunity. I do not plan to spoil the tasks our team has in store, but I can confirm that it will be a wonderful (and semi-required) characteristic to reach our goal!

Final Reflection

Our very first blog post was about each member of the class identifying what “public archaeology” meant to them and with slight doubt in my initial post I found myself to be proven wrong. I mentioned that I felt public archaeology was more of a concept in which we bring a community together to find solid research and maintaining communication with the public for what has been discovered. There was not full confidence in this statement because I personally felt unsure the public would become aware of our project as quickly as they had. To my surprise and satisfaction, members of the community were in fact aware of the project we had begun and were thrilled to hear of our efforts. I was unaware of the amount of communication and collaboration it would require for our project to excel as quickly as it had. As a group we gathered occasional volunteers, collaboration with archives, human remains detection dogs and the general community becoming aware of the mission we set out for ourselves. Just in the first semester of working on the Hidalgo County Public Cemetery Project (HCPCP) the course has been able to branch out to various people, even professionals in other states, and this remains to only be the beginning of our project. With outside efforts, we have been able to learn more of the cemetery than beyond what is on the surface.

My perspective of the overall objective of HCPCP is to benefit those who lost loved ones as well as bring a sense of justice to those who are deceased and have gone unmarked or neglected. I can confidently state our motives are of the most genuine and it has been very interesting to experience technological techniques while creating a sense of a bond with the descriptions on marked, and even unmarked, graves. Typically, I am a believer that though technology is wonderful it is consuming too much of our lives and we have become reliant on it despite it not always being reliable. However, while working on this project I have been capable of bending my belief in understanding that the equipment is incredibly helpful. Some individuals within the class were granted the opportunity to digitally mark grave dimensions with advanced technologies while others documented information of each grave. There have been occasional run-ins with technology, where we are set to re-mark graves, that soon become tedious and slows down our progress but balances when I am reminded that we are benefitting other individuals. Through my observations, I have become aware that the project is primarily technological based for items on surface level, however the human remains detection dogs were useful in discovering what is below surface level. This benefitted our project but allowing us to acknowledge the graves that have gone beyond unmarked and resulted in being entirely unknown. Unfortunately, with respect to the deceased and their loved ones I am unsure of a way we could distinguish these individuals but we can now note there is a grave in areas that appear to be nothing but ground.

Contrary to my usual opposition of technology, I find as though technology is greatly improving and allowing for more accurate research. With possibilities of a drone in our research future it could provide a more accurate scaling of the public cemetery and improve our research findings. This is especially helpful for graves the human remains detection dogs discovered. Hopefully in the future of the HCPCP we can utilize more outside, physical help to provide a more accurate representation of the cemetery as we have worked on it. Additionally, I hope for a lively looking cemetery. The borders of the Hidalgo County Public Cemetery, other cemeteries, appear to be more “attractive” to the eye, thus I hope in the near future we will be able to offer a similar appearing cemetery so there is no sense of neglect and disinterest.

A small thought has lingered through my mind and it is the attempt we may make in meeting the needs of the public. As an individual in a group project I have acknowledged our goal contributes to involving the public, though at this very moment there is not much involvement from the public. This is entirely acceptable, for we have just begun our project, though in the future will public and archaeological methods and/or ideas clash when deciding what is best for the cemetery? From my individual stand point I view this to potentially slow down the research process in which there will be continues lessons to be taught for new individuals involved in the project. However, there is a very strong possibility it could improve the project, as well. With outside perspectives from individuals who may have nearly no knowledge of archaeology, their inputs could guide our research into an unforeseen, positive direction. I feel as though the primary focus in caring for the cemetery should stem from putting yourself in the perspective of which your loved one is buried in this exact or a similar cemetery. It is then that the best public understanding and changes to what is the “now” could be made.

Finally, the amount of effort and collaboration that is required for this project to become successful is outstanding and entirely worth the effort. There is a bunch of support on the project that has been developed and the few interviews that have approached the group with questions have been more than kind and ecstatic. There are individuals that have asked to remain informed or have reached out to an individual and provided names for us to look out for. Minor, yet helpful, requests have been established and, as stated earlier, with this being the barely the beginning of our project the final outcome will be incredible. Personally, I look forward to the project development as well as the technology development that will be made to aid in creating the most accurate, realistic, digital display of the Hidalgo County Public Cemetery in years to come.

Site Interpretation

Uzi Baram writes about his experience with a former Florida colony and in doing so he addresses another individuals research. Baram began with explaining the connection between working with communities and the transitions that are to be made. Often “community organizing” is mentioned and despite the initial thought upon this term it influences building alliances. For community organizing to be successful you must expand from socio-politics to local politics. There is some notice that there is a collaborative continuum in “an act and a practice” that influences scholars working with more individuals that would consider the work a different sort of activity. Baram acknowledges Saul Alinsky (not an archaeologist) and explains that Alinsky sharpened tactics in allowing the community to believe they are building up social change. In Bradenton, Baram explains the city accidentally sold their park and when admitting this mistake a columnist named Tom Lyons question why the city wanted the park back. Through his opinion he believed the city should allow for positive caretakers to remain taking care of the park. The objective through community organizing is primarily about conservation of sites that have the potential to be lost. A group of professionals and locals network to bring more individuals together, including government and non-governmental organizations, together to preserve regions. Baram states, “The process, ideally, includes jointly negotiated approaches using archeo-heritage for building community and social justice.” For today’s perspective, there is now notice towards race, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality to better succeed at reaching the needs of each individual.

Through my understanding Gonzalez-Tennant is attempting to reach the general public of those utilizing online technology as their source of information. Through this I feel we could identify stories about the cemetery where individuals have not been entirely blessed throughout their lives. There are the occasional individuals that have outstanding marking for their loved ones with new offerings while a large majority of the others appear to have been neglected and not kept up with. Though the project we have begun is to increase knowledge of those who have gone forgotten or unnoticed I concluded there are many deceased individuals that are entirely unaware of. Virtual realities are explored through the reading and beginning with our technology advancement there will soon be an opportunity for our project to also become a version of virtual reality. Often when individuals pass away they are forgotten, this is no secret, though with archives and live through the internet these individuals remain alive. This allows for people all over to discover new, interesting stories from various locations and the legacy of people will continue to thrive, regardless of not being entirely knowledgeable of an individual personally. The research that is compiled is going to result in the way others see certain deceased individuals that have gone unheard of thus this allows for a sense of a “second life”. Continuing to document the individuals we discovery is a positive way to keep our personal experiences of the cemetery alive as well as the individual we discovered.

Digital Techniques

Bonacchi (2007) identifies four degrees of participation. A more common degree of participation to incorporate is contributory participation, through this HCPCP allows the public to make contribution to our research. Collaborative, co-creative and hosted participation, from my understanding, are roughly the same in the sense where there is incorporation of individuals from similar fields while simultaneously being open to different technology techniques. To continue with collaborative participation it may require more professional individuals in addition to maintain a decent amount of student involvement. Co-creative participation appears to be a technique in which a group of individuals create an ideal approach of research. This participation would potentially be utilized in the idea that a group of students currently working on this project decide to move an aspect of this project for further research. Hosted participation is described to be more difficult due to funding though I feel the many scholarships provided to independent and group research will benefit this research thus working in collaboration with co-creative participation.

Benefits of 3D technology are numerous. As the article mentioned, through 3D artifacts researchers and the public are granted the opportunity to view what an artifact generally looks like. Photography has been an uprising technique that is now transiting into 3D techniques, though without photography there would be no way of alternating an image into an item. However, pitfalls with 3D techniques are the possibility of much data holes that the individual fills under the assumption the artifact is completed a certain way potentially not perfectly displaying what an artifact was. I do feel as though our project could integrate 3D techniques due to my recollection at the beginning of the semester where the class learned about one tool that will create a 3D image of what was scanned through essentially a burst of many photos in seconds. This tool could further create an image in the public’s minds of the general layout of the cemetery as well as providing imaging of what the deceased individuals grave appears as for lost family members, etc.

Social Justice and Archaeology

A form of inequality that could be addressed is the care that is given to the cemetery. There is an understanding that not many individuals are willing to donate their time to the cemetery, however, with Hillcrest being its neighbor there is a clear distinction. I believe a positive way in addressing these inequalities would be to find individuals willing to donate their time to help improve the visual presentation of the cemetery. Understandingly, the Pauper cemetery is for individuals with financial struggles, thus this is a contribution to the lack of visual aesthetics. Our practice may not particularly reproduce this inequality, though it may not be entirely helpful in the sense of human interaction on the surface disturbing the land if we were to accidentally set equipment at a sensitive location.

Communities and Stakeholders

The stakeholders for the HCPCP is us- the team that is working on the project. With our interest in the cemetery, the data we collect will become the public’s knowledge of the cemetery. I often see clear communities existing throughout the Valley are without a doubt religious groups. Religion is a large way of life in the Valley that church goers often consider themselves a part of the community for the church they go to. Additionally, I have also seen there are some communities that are established when the individuals feel a sense of being an outsider. For instance, there is a Deaf community that many individuals may not know about and that is perhaps due to Deaf individuals not associating much with other communities in the Valley of not much observation is being expressed throughout this Geography.

My initial thought upon pondering the question of which communities  include the cemetery and the individuals as members was none. Then I continued to think and I remembered Cinco de Mayo. Individuals that celebrate Cinco de Mayo certainly do include members of the cemetery as a part of their community as they continue to involve them in their lives as much as possible.

In the sense where individuals are constant church goers and very active in their community I believe the proper response would be, “yes, we are a part of the communities we work with.” However, in the debate questioning if archaeologists and anthropologists are a member of the community they performed ethnographic projects with, I may then declare that the researcher is a member of the community if they implement the emic approach.

Researching without cultural affiliation is likely not ideal, for the ancestors may be offended if the research team does something unintentionally offensive. Though, I do believe that if the team conducts their research with a clear display of caution and no intent of being offensive to the individuals buried at the site then perhaps investigating without cultural affiliation is acceptable.

In the possibility that we choose to work with certain communities we simultaneously risk neglecting the communities we did not choose as well as the individuals at the cemetery. The cemetery may be a community in itself thus by deciding to work with one community there may be the possibility of overlooking what the cemetery is in need of.  However, when there is a larger team working together to gather information on one project it provides more insight from different fields benefiting the project in all aspects. For example, gaining volunteers and/or individuals in similar professions to archaeology will increase productivity as well as contribute to the final outcome of the project.

Ethics of Public Archaeology

Jameson describes public archaeology as allowing individuals of the community to be offered the opportunity to develop a basic understanding of archaeology through various multimedia platforms as well as involving them in archaeological projects. Participatory Action Research (PAR), described by McGhee, is shaping the social structure of the knowledge process as well as becoming self-sufficient activists.

When applying ethical principles to projects, both Jameson and McGhee give the impression that they are undoubtedly considered, however the ethical principles are not entirely implemented on projects. Public archaeologist, at an entry-level, are given standards such as maintaining basic knowledge of techniques to convey archaeological information to the public, ability to work as a team to design and implement effective public interaction, and public speaking knowledge. Public archaeologist remains hopeful the community will be involved in the projects they are invested in, though there are situations in which members of the community do not meet the same requirements, thus the data collected is interpreted differently from archaeologist to member of the community. Given this, there is potential that when community members engage in archaeological projects then this may be influential on the direction of the research with no intent of such direction.

To meet public needs, our project could implement the ideas offered by the public but continue to view our data from an archaeological standpoint. Then, not only are we allowing the public to express their opinion and assist in our research but we are also staying true to the roots of archaeological research.