What does someone need to be an archaeologist? A pith helmet? A leather jacket? A whip? Hollywood would like us to believe that treasure-hunting heroes are searching for treasure and saving the world in one of the most adventurous and romantic careers possible – archaeology.
The reality is something quite different but even more interesting. Archaeology is the study of the human past, a window into the cultures and times from which the world of today developed. With insight into the lives of the ancients, we learn a tremendous amount about ourselves and our future potential. Today, archaeology is about history, art, science, cultural heritage, and international law. To be an archaeologist you need to be inquisitive, imaginative and incredibly enthusiastic – especially about holding a simple object that someone dropped hundreds or thousands of years ago and using your mind like a time-machine to meet that individual in the context of their life. This seminar will be an opportunity to analyze the romantic legends, figures, and stereotypes of archaeology and to discover the exciting real elements and adventures of today’s archaeologist. We will also discuss cultural heritage and its contemporary significance while problematizing “collecting” practices and decolonizing museums and other “western” appropriation of the past.
The course will be primarily class discussion based on readings but will also include a series of ‘at-home,’ ‘hands-on’activities to virtually recreate archaeological methods and produce an object-driven exhibition.