Changing perceptions through fieldwork

Excavating a Middle Islamic barrel-vaulted room

By: Nicholas Ames, 2012 Platt Fellow

The first thing that struck me once the post-excavation haze wore off a few weeks after my return to the United States, was the sudden realization of the vast difference between “education” and “edification.” The classroom’s education provides the theoretical framework with which to situate my perception of the world, but through the context of labor, the act of archaeology provides an ephemeral emic understanding of the past, becoming a contextualized reification of the course-based educational experience. And with memories of the field still fresh in my mind, I found I was no longer content to confine my learning to a lecture hall listening to someone pontificate about the past. What I wanted was to go out and uncover it. Continue reading

Archaeology Weekly Roundup! 3-8-13

It’s snowy again in Boston, but here’s some news from a lot of places less icy.

Recent archaeological discoveries on the Arabian Peninsula have uncovered evidence of a previously unknown culture based in the now arid areas in the middle of the desert. The artefacts unearthed are providing proof of a society that flourished thousands of years ago and could push back the domestication dates for horses by thousands of years.

A remarkable find from 2011 of a 33,000 year old dog from a cave in the Siberian Altai mountains showed evidence of dog domestication, the earliest ever found. Now DNA sequencing has proven the remains to be more closely linked to modern dogs than wolves, and one of the growing number of early dogs.

Over the past seven years, around 1,500 antiques—including coins, and pre-Islamic stone carvings—have been confiscated at Sana’a International Airport. Smugglers have been tucking these ancient artifacts inside clothing and hiding them in bags, hoping to sell them abroad, but now they’re being turned over to the National Museum. Continue reading