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Chapter 1

ANT200Y5 Chapter 1: Introduction (p. 1-24)

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Paul Duffy

NotesFromReadingCHAPTER1INTRODUCTIONPGS124Introduction A great deal of destruction of Native American sites and archaeological sites all over the world is intentional Sites are destroyed by looters who churn through the ground in their search for objects that have valueeverything from souvenirs to treasure that can be sold for thousands of dollars The Slack Farm site was one of the largest known Mississippian sites to have escaped devastation by lootersAll that changed in 1987 when the farm was sold to a small group of looters pocketing 10000 from the deal Within 2 months the looters had transformed this preserved monument of Native American culture into a pocketmarked wasteland Destroyed were the remains once preserved beneath the ground that could have told us about the lives of the people who lived there Neither the Slack Farm site nor any other archaeological site can tell us about all aspects of an ancient society Looting takes place because there is a market for illegal antiquitiesLooters and those who purchase antiquities are the real enemies of all people who want to preserve the pastThe objective for looters is to find valuable objects that can be sold for profit whereas the objectives for an archaeologist is to preserve and to learn Archaeologists and ArchaeologyArchaeologists are interested in the past with their interested defined by specific questions they seek to answer These questions involve our origins as human beings the origins of specific cultures the way societies develop over time and the relationship between the past and the present seeking to better define who we are and understand why we behave the way we doThe Lure of Archaeology Discoveries are very rare most archaeologists never find spectacular tombs or lost civilizations Archaeologists have the privilege of being time travelers who can discover for themselves and educate other about parts of our past that otherwise would be lost forever Misuses of Archaeology Some individuals may misuse archaeological evidence for misleading or even harmful ends PseudoarchaeologyOther accounts are subtler and lead people into believing things about our past that not only are untrue but also can be harmfulPseudoarchaeologists claim to build their accounts from evidence but they do notoEx Many of the accounts dealing with the supposed lost civilization of Atlantis and Mu imaginary continents inhabited by amazingly sophisticated peoples who supposedly give rise to the known early civilization through the world before disappearing beneath the waves of the Atlantic and Pacific ocean respectivelyMoney is the usual motivation of pseudoarchaeologySometimes archaeological evidence is misused for political reasons as when nationalistic or racist doctrines are supported by falsified reconstructions of the past oEx A German prehistorian Gustav Kossinna manipulated archaeological evidence to build a false and racist reconstruction of the past purporting to show the superiority of Germany to other nations Archaeology DefinedArchaeology The study of human past through its material remains
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