Final reflection essay

This Semester our class participated in a public archaeology project that centered around the Hidalgo county pauper cemetery, our goal was to record as much data as possible in order to create a data base for the future classes and in order to reach out into the community in order to connect family member to those who may have been buried there. It was not only enlightening socially but also helped me come to conclusions about my own future career goals.  Actually seeing the differences between the pauper cemetery and the hill crest cemetery which was literally feet away really struck home about the social differences many people faced even at death. This also provided me a chance to not only test if archeology was really something I wished to due after graduation i also provided me with experience I can take with me in my future career pursuits.
During the first two weeks we did not go out to the cemetery but instead stayed on campus and discussed the semantics of the project as well as everyone’s jobs. It was also during this time that we where first introduced to the total station. Professor Rowe explained to us how it worked and how to set it up correctly. On our first day out in the field we stated data collection which turned out to be much more work then I had originally thought it would be This consisted of entering the names , birth/ death dates ,head stone design and material and all other relevant information in to the App KOBO toolbox . The app program did not always work many times the data we collected did not upload correctly and we had to do many graves all over again .The app also  had a habit of not only draining my phones battery very fast but over heating it as well their where a few occasions when my partner or I would have to but our phones in my water pack in order to cool off. But even so data collection continued for the majority of the class.  I averaged about five to six   data entry’s along with my partner sometimes even more if the software was being cooperative that day. When not ding data collection I did other tasks including working the total station. When on the total station I collected the points for various objects including a few graves and the boarder posts. his was a long and sometimes difficult process and if do anything after you set it up such as lean on it you have to do again and possibly all of the points you have taken could be invalid. Setting up the total station is a long process in itself finding the correct position to ensure everything is leveled took quite a bit of time. Once it was set up as long as there where no physical obstructions finding the prism window was relatively easy especially since you on had to move a couple of inches to find the next point . Though there where times that the total station was hard , like when I had to go out into the brush for a boarder post or when a tree was in the way and no matter what we did we could not map the point correctly or when we took some of the points from the wrong position.  There where other jobs that had to be done as well such as labeling and setting out the grave markers I only did this once at the end we ended up having over a 1000 different marked sites. There where others that where unmarked that where found using cadaver dogs on the last week on site.
When we were not out in the field we had outside assignment to keep up with. They were our blog posts  in the beginning we were required to do at least 8 out of the 11 that professor rowe posted but that number has since been reduced to only 6. The posts were based on questions about our reading , for example out first post was what pubic archeology meant to us and how and what  we personally felt our project was set o accomplish with in our local community. I really enjoyed this type of class structure because it allowed us to fully focus on our project during class time. While the out side posting assignments were flexible as long as we got them done correctly. This also allowed me the chance to focus on the work load from other classes as well. But i do understand that it could have gone better , I recommend that not only are students require to do the blog post but to also comment and critique their class mates blog posts using original content and references. This will allow student to see how each other is doing and to off feed back and exchange and debate ideas. There by creating a dialog.
During our last class meeting we  discussed how improve our project next semester, there where many great idea that I believe if incorporated correctly our project will b able to help a lot more people within the community. Some of ideas that I think we should incorporate are that we should try and reach out more to the to the pubic and try and become more involved in gathering information. Some of the ways that this could be done is reaching out to funeral homes , churches , and hospitals in order to try and obtain some of the records that may help us identify who exactly is buried with in the paupers cemetery and to try and get in touch with their families in order to learn more about the situations that led them to being buried in the paupers cemetery. We should also look at the court records for more information. This may help us clear up the confusion about the in properly buried hillcrest caskets . I also hope that we will eventually go forward with the plan of  giving a presentation during the annual Archeological society of America’s  meeting I feel like this will help those of us that wish to peruse a career in archaeology make valuable connections with  leader in the field.

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