Final Reflection

In all I was very excited and looking forward in starting this projects with DR. Rowe and my classmates before the semester even started, I had heard about his service learning class through Dr. Duke whom had invited Dr. Rowe to present to the class what the HCPCP was all about and the techniques that would be used. Being an Anthropology minor I was really excited and and looking forward and participating in this project. However little did I know the impact that this project has had and is still having (due to the fact that this particular project is still not complete) on the community of Hidalgo County.

In working on this project i have had first hand experience in data collection, which makes it very simple due to Kobotools being a website that is interactive with any smart phone or device that has WiFi or cellular data. In addition I was very fortunate to be working with the total station a couple of times as well as being the pole person that is used as the marker for the graves. the total station machine is part of the technology that is being used to map the cemetery in a way it is much slower because there is only a limited amount of people working on this machine that is used to map the graves. This spring semester was very fortunate because for some reason (hopefully but most likely due to global warming) for the most part we had fair weather, in the beginning the we had cool weather and towards the end the weather started to warm up. I was very pleased that the county of Hidalgo was very helpful and cooperative in their part by providing air conditioned restrooms and a ice chest of bottled water for us to hydrate,

in working with the HCPCP I have discovered that there are a vast number of graves with many different markers, unfortunately i had to witness some headstones/marker graves that were made out of PVC pipe with the epitaph written in stickers that are found on mailboxes for the mailman to deliver the bills. other graves were evident that they where made on site with cement with epitaph’s written with a stick, other headstones where made out of steel pipes, others where made with sheet metal, and many did not have a headstone at all, I have also noticed that a lot of the graves are from very early on dating from far back as the 1800’s and early 1900’s. This cemetery was originally opened in 1913 which makes me question why there are headstones dating back to the late 1800’s. It is just y opinion but it also sheds light as to why the County of Hidalgo has left this job for the university, because it is a burden that they personally they do not want to deal with, Yes the local government has helped with hydration and a place to maintain homeostasis, but I wonder because I do not know and did not bother to ask Dr. Rowe in which other ways the local government is doing to help this extensive workful project.

Furthermore in my firsthand experience in working on this project I have also become curious and more attentive to our Mexican/Hispanic culture because in working and putting effort unto this project I have noticed particular things that may be out of place. In the coming weeks in which I have been data collecting graves I have came across a technology that is probably not popular between you and me. What I am trying to explain is Witch craft or black magic. Personally after coming across one voodoo doll one day I have learned to be more attentive to my surroundings. in total I have come upon six voodoo dolls and 3 flask. all of these material have been found on, near, or around graves, the pattern was that all of the flask’s were buried next to the headstone. Unfortunately or fortunately a colleague of mine opened one of the flasks while I documented the findings on my cellular device. Inside the flask or mason jar, it was filled with sugar, cloves of garlic and seeds of Chile. Once all of the ingredients where taken out of the jar, out emerged a picture of a man, but before we can clearly take a look at he picture we had to untie the knot of a chain of paper clips that had been wrapped around the photo, once the paper clips where removed there was a photo of a middle aged man approximately in his late 40’s to early 50’s, the man was wearing a button up shirt, the man had a beer belly but his overall built was average and he also wore a dashing mustache. Later in the day towards the end of the class my classmate had mentioned how he had some knowledge on the occult and how this type of work was an “amarre” which translated to a “binding” in English, who ever had done this work on this deceased man was jealous of him or wishes that he/she most likely she wanted to be with the deceased man. Now when I saw fortunately i meant it because if we had not opened the mason jar we would not have figured out who had been buried there, because the marker had no name, on the picture was also some dates, and we are assuming that it was the date of his birth and death, however nothing is certain,

overall I am more than elated that I have participated in this project and I hope I am there when it is finally finished, I know this will certainly not be tomorrow, but I am glad that i participated and looking back I am proud to say to my offspring or grandchildren that I was part of Dr. Rowe’s students that helped map the HCPCP graves and helped reunited many families with their deceased loved ones.

Engaging With Publics online

There are many aspects that need to be put into consideration when trying to engage anyone on the World Wide Web, because when most of the time when it comes to blogging  you are not engaging with people face to face. so you have to be careful what you say and how you put your sentences into context, as well as be weary of exclamation points, commas and question marks. There are many online platforms in which people just rant about their pet peeves, and there are other online platforms in which people engage in intellectual arguments. So one must choose which platform is appropriate for  them.

when it comes to blogging or posting on a social media outlet one must choose the social media website in which one thinks their information will go further. However according to Doug Rocks-Macqueen there is a dilemma with that because “Simple math tells us that it is impossible to use every possible social media platform. Taking the AddThis list of 345 different digital services and assume a person spent one minute a day on each service we would find that they would need 6 hours of work per day to cover them all.” however that is not say that we must post to all social media or websites so far known to the internet. I believe that we must choose which ones will get more traction to get our word out. Online platforms are definitely appropriate because most Americans or most people around the world for that matter engage in online interactions on a daily basis multiple times a day. Honestly our audience should be any intellectual young or old that is interested in the social sciences, and if they do not know what it is, then we explain to them in a very simple interactive way to help them learn and possible pursue a degree in the social sciences and archaeology.

The most effective media outlet for our specific project in my opinion would be Facebook, because there are millions of users logged in everyday. and in this website you can blog, as well as live stream whatever it is you are doing. In the case of our project we can live stream our work at the cemetery, in addition to online platforms Dr. Rowe has a drone! which can capture amazing aerial footage of our work and later upload onto Facebook. Furthermore, on Facebook you can engage with the people that are commenting on a specific post and or blog and answer any questions that the audience may have, i believe it is a very interactive website that will be very useful to bring light and for our project to get the attention it rightfully deserves in our community.

Digital Techniques

As time inevitably progresses so  does the technology that governs most of our lives. Technology can be seen as a new organism introduced to our human environment, when introduced people must adapt to it or perish by it, however in doing so astonishing things can be accomplished if technology can be used in the correct manner. on the other hand when it comes to introducing new forms of technology into archaeology.  “some forms of digital engagement that rely strongly on voluntarism and on the donation of time, skills and knowledge in support of activities proposed by archaeological organisations have been criticised as exploiting free labour and contributing to neo-liberalist economies (Perry and Beale 2015). The outcomes of heritage crowdsourcing practices (see case study 5.1) have also been critiqued for affirming ‘truths’ constructed by majorities, and often excluding the alternative views of minorities (e.g. Harrison 2010). Furthermore, open geographic information can pose ethical challenges related to its potential use by looters to feed illicit trades of antiquities (Bevan 2012), and citizens taking part in heritage monitoring via web or mobile crowdsourcing (e.g. Cultural Heritage Monitor) may incur risks to their personal security.” meaning that a lot of work requires time and vast amount of people that can and are able to help in a certain project, but as archaeologist we do not want to follow or seem like neo-liberals who will exploit volunteers or privatize the archaeological project. As far as crowdsourcing goes it is a great way to connect with people without even meeting them in person, and it is an excellent way of recruiting paid or unpaid volunteers, however there are ethical issues involved in which the volunteers personal information may be violated. it seems with new technology comes new and more strict responsibilities, responsibilities to protect he people and to protect the archaeological project.

For one I personally believe that technology when used correctly can be of great help to the field of archaeology, instead of using ground penetrating radar, heat sensing cameras, or drones for military purposes. we can use them to better understand our selves in the past. Instead of using artificial intelligence to turn on our lights and regulate our air conditioning system, archaeologist can be using artificial intelligence to reconstruct decaying historical monumental building that may never be seems again, but with the use of technology can be saved into a hard drive or USB. Technology can be our savior when it comes to preserving human history, but it can also be our peril as it is much more evident to this day. then comes the funding for these technologies, who will be interested it digitally resurrecting a 5,000 year old building? Money should be set aside from the federal government for the sciences and social sciences such as anthropology, archaeology and sociology alike. 3D technology should be implemented into our cemetery project as long as there is a budget for the technology because. this cemetery may seize to exist in the near future, furthermore there are many graves without headstones, in digitally creating a headstone for the individual that was to humble to afford a headstone we are commemorating and and righteously honoring the dead.


“Key Concepts in Public Archaeology.” UCLPRESS,

Communities And Stakeholders

The main Stakeholder in the HCPCP (Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery Project) would be the government, in this case it would be the local government. Daniel Flores of the Hidalgo County Maintenance Department has reached out to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to formerly conduct this extensive project. The County is also providing water bottles and air conditioned restrooms powered by gas generators. DR. Sara Rowe is the main conductor of the Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery Project. Dr. Rowe is the pioneer stakeholder for public archaeology in the Rio Grande Valley, which will shed light to community to the field of public archaeology in South Texas.

Initially in the Rio Grande Valley the communities that existed where Mexicans, later in the late 1700’s and 1800’s there was a flush of European settlers originating from France, Sweden, Germany, and Ireland, that bought a lot of land in the Rio Grande Valley, those families bought land and lived of the fat of the land by raising cattle and livestock, as well as growing maize, citrus and other various production crops as the Rio Grande Valley soil is fertile and the zone is subtropical that enables for almost any type of flora to flourish. However now in the modern days of the Valley in my opinion the Valley population that is the biggest community is Hispanics, Mexican Americans, and Mexicans, that probably make up 90% to 95% of the population in the Rio Grande Valley. Communities that include in the Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery itself varies, I personally have seen a headstone with Swedish writing, however the majority of the of the individuals buried are Mexican, Mexican American, or Hispanic, because almost all of the epitaph’s are written in Spanish, instead of R.IP. there is E.N.D. (En Pas Descanse). Without a doubt WE are part of the communities that we are working with because, we live in the valley , we attend the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, furthermore in working with the HCPC we make ourselves a part of the community no matter what language one speaks or the color of skin one wears.

I do believe that we as archaeologist should not carry out investigations without studying or researching cultural affiliations, it is the community after all that we are doing the work for and it would be rude and disrespectful to exclude cultural affiliations, because it may be that within some communities there may be more than one culture present, and all cultures should be taken into account. If we choose to focus our attention on only certain communities obviously we are neglecting those that we are not studying, we should have a wide range of understanding, although at times it may not be possible to study every culture due to time constraints. However archaeologist should try their best to include as much cultures into their field of work as possible, especially the cultures that are slowly deteriorating. The power dynamics that could exist for those communities that are involved in the cemetery is the power of autonomy.


First Day Of Cemetery Data Collection

On our first day of cemetery data collection it was a fresh/cold Friday morning around 11 p.m. as the cold front lasted all throughout the afternoon. When Dr. Rowe arrived at the cemetery she proceeded to take out all the equipment that we will be using for the remainder of the semester, which include: a ruler (to measure the graves), a permanent marker (to check mark the graves that are completed), and a legend (of all the possible graves that would be available to input into KoBoToolbox). The only tool that we must bring ourselves is our cellular phone or device with internet connection to input the data of the grave. One of the main tools that we are using is the total station to map the grave site. that tool is delicate and takes precise instructions to set up or else will not properly function, this device shoots a laser to the prism that is used to mark the grave, this data is then stored in the total station which in return is used to mark the graves. Dr. Rowe has also used the drone to have an aerial view of the cemetery, as well as the GPR, which is penetrating radar that is also used to properly mark the graves.

on the first day I was operating the Total station along with other classmates that where handling the prism. This was a good day for data collection because it was not a typical hot Texas day which enabled us as a team to collect and map a good number of graves on our first day of data collection. Based on my observation it is amazing how old this graveyard is I have come across a couple of graves from the 1800’s, the work that is being conducted in this cemetery is astonishing and helpful not only to the individuals that have been laid to rest, but to their families and the community as a whole, this public archaeology mapping is essential to learn more about our past in our Culturally diverse Rio Grande Valley, upon further investigation I have also stumbled upon a grave in which the man was from Sweden the epitaph was written in Swedish, in addition the grave was also from the 1800’s.

Overall the first day of data collection had a profound impact on me, because it seems as if the cemetery is split in two just like our society, there are the graves that have lush green grass around them that are mowed weekly and watered almost daily with marble and granite headstones, while the other half which is the help that we are mapping is dry with weeds and dirt covering a lot of the headstones, the only clean graves are the ones that the family of the deceased come to pay their respects and offer maintenance to the graves. the graves remind me of the forgotten people of the Rio Grande Valley that in my opinion are the poor that lives in colonias and respectively had a very humble lifestyle.

Ethics Blog 2

ethics are needed not just for everyday living, but they are extremely important in the field of anthropology, ethics are needed because often times the archaeologist may be working in foreign countries and are working on indigenous lands. Which is where The Society for American Archaeology’s principle number eight comes into play, principle number eight states: “Given the destructive nature of most archaeological investigations, archaeologist must ensure that they have adequate training, experience, facilities, and other support necessary to conduct any program of research they initiate in a manner consistent with the foregoing principles and contemporary standards of professional practice.”

It is also important to report any and all objects, artifacts or burials that are found by archaeologist, otherwise what is the objective of the archaeologist if he or she does not report what he or she has discovered. The archaeologist must record and publish her or his findings to as many publication as possible. as it states in principle number 6 “The documents and materials on which publication and other forms of public reporting… archaeological sites  must be taken into account when publishing and distributing information about their nature and information.” For this reason we need ethics and principles in archaeology, because the public needs to know and learn what public or any type of archaeologist are doing.

Another principle is the respect of intellectual property. For example archaeologist discovers a tomb or a buried artifact he or she has the right to claim the principle founder of the object or place this is principle number five, however it follows principle number six very close. In doing so the archaeologist should not perceive it as personal possession of the objects or place in the ethics of archaeology it quotes the following about principle number five: “Intellectual property, as contained in the knowledge and the documents created through the study of archaeological resources, is part of the archaeological record. As such it should be treated in accord with the principles of stewardship rather than as a matter of personal possession. If there is a compelling reason, and no legal restrictions or strong countervailing interest, a researcher may have primary access to original materials and documents for a limited and reasonable time, after which materials and documents must be made available to others.”  Principle number five is closely related to principle number 5, because both principle require for findings to be publicly published.

The last principle in the ethics of archaeology is principle number nine, Safe Educational and Workplace Environments. Archaeology is a job/profession, obviously there must be rules in the workplace such as no sexual harassment. Furthermore, their should be no scrutiny on people based on their sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity.  In addition ” Archaeologist in all work, educational, and other professional settings, including fieldwork and conferences, are responsible for training the next generation of archaeologist.” this i believe it to be one of the most important principles because i believe that upcoming archaeologist should be properly trained by well experienced archaeologist to pass on the great skills to keep up the excellent work this fairly new field of study.


What is public archaeology blog 1

public archaeology to me means that archaeologist are working on public land to preserve or excavate archaeological sites or as in our case trying to map out a cemetery. however, archaeology has both practice and theory, in practice it is a fairly new field of study that is gaining traction. public archaeology may be an umbrella term that encompasses various political, socio-economic, and of course public aspects, as quoted from the article. “Holtford Archaeology is a brand! The meaning of Archaeology in contemporary popular culture “offers three models for the practice of public archaeology: The ‘education model’ , the ‘public relations model’, and the ‘democratic model’. The ‘education model’ suggest that archaeologist need to support the public to ‘come see both the past and the occupation of the archaeologist in the same terms as the professional archaeologist themselves’. (The meaning of archaeology in contemporary culture. Oxford: Archaeopress). The ‘public relations model’ suggest that an increase in social, economic and political support for the professional archaeological sector will arrive only if the archaeologist can improve their public image.”

Public archeology does not just fall into one specific category but several, and as far as theory goes, it varies, because archaeology is also political, theories may vary from country some coountries may be more lenient in the way that public archaeologist carry out their work, while other countries may be more oppressive and leave little to no input on the public archaeologist input on how the archaeological work should be carried out. a quote from the articles states the following about theory in public archaeology “Differing theoretical approaches to archaeology can be found in different countries, depending on the history of the foundation of the national disciplinary tradition. These approaches have developed alongside the socio-economic and political circumstances under which publicly accessible and publicly understandable archaeology takes place, ad is subject to policy, which varies from nation to nation”. Our cemetery project align with this in both practice and theory for the following reasons. Dr. Rowe mentioned that they city of Edinburg reached out to map the public cemetery. they gave permission to do public archaeological work, the city was concerned that there are many unmarked graves which allows the public sector to work with public archaeologist for a common goal, to reunite families with their deceased loved ones.

The lines of investigation that I am interested in pursuing is finding out exactly how many graves are unmarked. Because it comes to show just how poverty we have in the  Rio Grande Valley. Dying is a very expensive process, and to get buried it includes funeral services that are estimated at ten thousand dollars including the casket and burial. plenty of families do not have the financial stability to lay to rest their loved ones. which is why i am interested in seeing just how many graves  there are that are unclaimed. because, there might be a correlation between poverty  and the number of unmarked graves there are in the Hope Cemetery. with any luck our group might be able to mark the graves.