Lab 4: Unessay Project Overview

The goal of my Unessay Project is to comparatively distinguish if and how contemporary archaeology serves the people rather than serving itself to its own benefits. My project theme is to help diminish common assumptions of this particular study and show how the discoveries can be used to provide useful resources in ways where the dead and families of those that are no longer living can be given the  opportunity to access evidence that reveals buried truths like, what or who was actually responsible for their deaths. In addition, revealing the hidden past through contemporary archaeology of excavation sites involving buried human remains of unidentified victims that experienced violent deaths can act as a reminder and reassure people that these tragic events did occur in the past and that the families and communities that are related to these victims never initially healed from their losses.

      I was interested in this topic because personally speaking, I work with deceased individuals every week and have grown a deeper connection with the individual as well as their family and community overtime. Thus, discovering how there are individuals, families and communities that experience this intentionally wrongful coverup really captured my interest is understanding more about this field of study. Furthermore, what was interesting was to see how contemporary archaeology can unfold these truths to bring back dignity to these individuals including their family and community and be finally put to rest. I hope by revealing different archeological excavation burial sites will help capture the importance of the true aspects of contemporary archaeology in order to \to shed light on these existing communities to help people truly understand how we can effectively better serve these communities.

I learned about many different aspects to how we can better help these forgotten communities and how cotemporary archaeology acts as an assisting force to those victims of violent deaths and for the families and community involved. This research taught me that this field of study requires more support and the acknowledgement.

I integrated my final research findings into my final Unessay by incorporating images of excavation burial sites such as the one depicted below as well as potential excavation burial sites to provide some context on the history of these spaces as well as a visual connection so people can have a glimpse of what these places mean to these communities. Moreover, I inserted a few images of actual sites being excavated to illustrate the importance of respectful community involvement.  I also included a brief description of how contemporary archaeology was utilized within these spaces and how they served these communities in order to give people an opportunity to glance into the transparency of contemporary archaeology.

My take way from this project is how contemporary archaeology allows us to justify what happened in the past using respectful measures to bring peace and end the suffering of the families of the victims of violent deaths. The study also is a way that helps bring remembrance to these specific events in order to respectfully acknowledge the discovered victims as well as then events that lead to their death that have been wrongfully hidden overtime. More importantly, contemporary Archaeology is used to carefully examine the dead in order to understand more about what is existing and how we came to be where we are at today with respect to the communities associated with the victims including the victims. Thus, archaeologist must be able to properly identify themselves as supporting members that are capable of respectfully providing support, acknowledgment and help to these communities.

References

*Ambrose, Kevin. 2018. “The forgotten graves of soldiers killed 157 years ago, during the oppressively hot Battle of Blackburn’s Ford” The Washington Post website, Jul 18. Accessed [June 1, 2020].

*Baggaley, Kate. 2019. “New evidence points to mass graves of people killed in Tulsa’s 1921 race massacre” Popular Science website, Dec 18. Accessed [June 6, 2020].

*Brown, L. DeNeen. 2020. “‘Tulsa plans to dig for suspected mass graves from a 1921 race massacre’” The Washington Post website, Feb 4. Accessed [June 1, 2020].

*Brown, L. DeNeen. 2018. “‘They was killing black people’” The Washington Post website, Sept 28. Accessed [June 1, 2020].

*Gannon, Megan. 2020. “Unearthing the True Toll of the Tulsa Race Massacre” Sapiens website, May 22. Accessed [May 24, 2020].

Goldstein, Lynne and Keith Kintigh. 1990. “Ethics and the Reburial Controversy.” American Antiquity 55(3): 585-591.

Haglund, D. William. 2001. “Archaeologists as Forensic Investigators: Defining the Role” Historical Archaeology 53(1): 26-34.

*Jarus, Owen. 2018. “Photos: 1,500-Year-Old Massacre Site Unearth” Live Science website, Apr 25. [June 6, 2020].

Jones, D. Gareth and Robyn J. Harris. 1998. “Archeological Human Remains. Scientific, Cultural, and Ethical Considerations” Current Anthropology 39(2): 253-264

*Kennedy, Maev. 2018. “Swedish archaeologist uncover brutal 5th century massacre” The Guardian website, Apr 25. Accessed [June 1, 2020].

Medina, Juan., Lupton, Emily and White, Sarah. 2017. “Spanish archaeologists dig up more civil war dead from mass graves” Reuters website, Aug 30. Accessed [June 1, 2020].

*Mitchell, William. 2020. “Holocaust Archaeology Proves Deniers Wrong” Sapiens website, Apr 15. Accessed [June 1, 2020].

*Pappas, Stephanie. 2014. “First-Ever Excavation of Nazi Death Camp Treblinka Reveals Horrors” Live Science website, Mar 28. Accessed [June 6, 2020].

*Pearce, Joanna. 2019. “Digging up the Dead” Sapiens website, Nov 1. Accessed [May 24, 2020].

Scarre, Geoffrey. 2003. “Archaeology and Respect for the Dead” The Journal of Applied Philosophy 20(3): 237-249

Shelbourn, Carolyn. 2013. “Burial archaeology: reflections on the law, policy and ethics of research on human remains and ‘digging the dead’” Art Antiquity & Law 18(1): 59-75

*Strauss, Mark. 2016. “When Is It Okay To Dig Up The Dead?” National Geographic website, Apr 7. Accessed [June 1, 2020].

*Svoboda, Elizabeth. 2016. “Unearthing the Atrocities of Nazi Death Camps” Scientific American website, Apr 30. Accessed [June 6, 2020].

Ethics of Acknowledging the Unknown

The Oaklawn Cemetery

The Oaklawn Cemetery is a potential excavation site that is suspected to contain mass graves connected to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. (Brown, 2018) The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is considered one of the worst episodes of racial violent in U.S history. (Brown, 2018) The massacre all began when a black man was accused of assaulting a white woman which led to hundreds of black-owned businesses and homes being set on fire in Greenwood. (Brown, 2018) In addition, more than 300 black people were killed, more than 10,000 black people were left homeless, and 40 blocks were left smoldering. (Brown, 2018)   Most importantly, there are still victims that still left hidden and unidentified.

Recent archaeologist was able to discover several signs of possible mass graves at various sites which also includes the Oaklawn Cemetery.  In order to reveal whether if people were buried there, forensic archeologist will have to excavate the site and examine the remains to be identified. More than that, forensic archaeologist can reveal whether the skeletal remains exhibit characteristics that relates to the massacre. (Baggaley, 2019)

As for the victims and families that were greatly impacted by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, forensic archaeology provides a common ground for the families and communities to rewrite history.  As Forensic anthropologist Sean Tallman shares, “one great feature about forensic archaeology is that it can help to provide information about things that aren’t necessarily recorded in history, that are sort of clandestine or hidden,” and adds “It can augment the historical record by showing what actually happened to potentially a large group of people.”

Sandby Borg

The Sandy Borg is a 5th century ringfort on the south-east coast of Oland island, Sweden. Archaeologist performed an excavation within the oval area surrounded by stone ramparts. (Current World Archaeology, 2019) Beneath the ground, archaeologist was able to reveal an occurrence of a brutal massacre in the late 5th century AD. (Current World Archaeology, 2019) There was massive amounts of people that were slaughtered and left to rot. (Current World Archaeology, 2019) Consequentially, the human remains, and valuables left buried beneath centuries ago can now have an opportunity the re-tell a part of history that has never been revealed.

Archaeologists were able to discover multiple evidence of a massacre that occurred more than 1500 years ago (Kennedy, 2018) They found out that the site was abandoned after an attack, leaving the dead unburied. (Jarus, 2018) A fortress was under attack and inhabitants were slaughtered. (Jarus, 2018) In one of the sections, archaeologists revealed evidence of an old man’s skull being smashed. In another section, they also unraveled how even children were not spared during the attack. (Kennedy, 2018) Overtime, archaeologist was able to unveil more about the village and its “catastrophic end”. (Kennedy, 2018)

              Overall, contemporary archaeology gives communities a chance to revisits untold truths of the past that have been buried away, just like the 5th century massacre.  Moreover, the hidden memories allow us to take some time to acknowledge the victims of these violent deaths, respectfully. Whether or not the victims can be identified, a proper burial site for the victims of this massacre is required, that way the victims are not left to rot with their last memories of the attack.

Treblinka Extermination Camp

The 1943 Treblinka extermination camp in Poland was where more than 900,000 Jewish deportees had been killed during World War II. (Svoboda, 2016) (Mithcell, 2020) (Pappas, 2014) The killings went on for 16 months, leaving mass graves behind. (Pappas, 2014) Witnesses stated seeing men were beaten and hacked to death while still alive. The site also includes gas chambers that were used as a trap to poison large amounts of deportees with carbon monoxide within 20 minutes. (Pappas, 2014) Most of all, this particular space requires caution and attention in a way that allows victims of this mass murder to be heard throughout time.

Archaeologists carried out an excavation at the Nazi death camp and found massive amounts of skeletal remains, brick walls and foundations of the gas chamber. (Pappas, 2014) More specifically, forensic archaeologist was able to indicate multiple knife marks existing on the bones which reveals the victims were also stabbed or assaulted. (Pappas, 2014) Beneath the surface they also discovered how the Nazis dumped sand from a quarry close by to help disguise or cover up the death camp. (Pappas, 2014)

Ultimately, contemporary archaeology can help localize buried truths without causing too much disturbance to the soil and the hidden remains. In addition, archaeologist’s approach of excavating devastating sites similar to Treblinka must be considered and requires the community’s respect, trust, and approval.  Furthermore, contemporary archaeologist can act as a fine-tooth comb that teases out the unknown details that were purposely covered and left in the past.

The image above illustrates a ground penetrating radar survey revealing a mass grave in Vinnytsia region of Ukraine. (Mitchell, 2020)

The image above depicts a volunteer helping with the excavation of the grave of Saturnino Til and Ramon Navarro, who were shot in 1936 by forces of dictator Francisco Franco in Gurrea de Gallego, Spain. (Reuters, 2017)

The image above is shows the 1997 Centreville excavation site that involves the graves of six Civil War soldiers being carefully revealed. (Ambrose, 2018)

References

*Ambrose, Kevin. 2018. “The forgotten graves of soldiers killed 157 years ago, during the oppressively hot Battle of Blackburn’s Ford” The Washington Post website, Jul 18. Accessed [June 1, 2020].

*Baggaley, Kate. 2019. “New evidence points to mass graves of people killed in Tulsa’s 1921 race massacre” Popular Science website, Dec 18. Accessed [June 6, 2020].

*Brown, L. DeNeen. 2020. “‘Tulsa plans to dig for suspected mass graves from a 1921 race massacre’” The Washington Post website, Feb 4. Accessed [June 1, 2020].

*Brown, L. DeNeen. 2018. “‘They was killing black people’” The Washington Post website, Sept 28. Accessed [June 1, 2020].

*Gannon, Megan. 2020. “Unearthing the True Toll of the Tulsa Race Massacre” Sapiens website, May 22. Accessed [May 24, 2020].

Goldstein, Lynne and Keith Kintigh. 1990. “Ethics and the Reburial Controversy.” American Antiquity 55(3): 585-591.

Haglund, D. William. 2001. “ Archaeologists as Forensic Investigators: Defining the Role” Historical Archaeology 53(1): 26-34.

*Jarus, Owen. 2018. “Photos: 1,500-Year-Old Massacre Site Unearth” Live Science website, Apr 25. [June 6, 2020].

Jones, D. Gareth and Robyn J. Harris. 1998. “Archeological Human Remains. Scientific, Cultural, and Ethical Considerations” Current Anthropology 39(2): 253-264

*Kennedy, Maev. 2018. “Swedish archaeologist uncover brutal 5th century massacre”  The Guardian website, Apr 25. Accessed [June 1, 2020].

Medina, Juan., Lupton, Emily and White, Sarah. 2017. “Spanish archaeologists dig up more civil war dead from mass graves” Reuters website, Aug 30. Accessed [June 1, 2020].

*Mitchell, William. 2020. “ Holocaust Archaeology Proves Deniers Wrong” Sapiens website, Apr 15. Accessed [June 1, 2020].

*Pappas, Stephanie. 2014. “First-Ever Excavation of Nazi Death Camp Treblinka Reveals Horrors” Live Science website, Mar 28. Accessed [June 6, 2020].

*Pearce, Joanna. 2019. “Digging up the Dead” Sapiens website, Nov 1. Accessed [May 24, 2020].

Scarre, Geoffrey. 2003. “Archaeology and Respect for the Dead” The Journal of Applied Philosophy 20(3): 237-249

Shelbourn, Carolyn. 2013. “Burial archaeology: reflections on the law, policy and ethics of research on human remains and ‘digging the dead’” Art Antiquity & Law 18(1): 59-75

*Strauss, Mark. 2016. “When Is It Okay To Dig Up The Dead?” National Geographic website, Apr 7. Accessed [June 1, 2020].

*Svoboda, Elizabeth. 2016. “Unearthing the Atrocities of Nazi Death Camps” Scientific American website, Apr 30. Accessed [June 6, 2020].

Garbology

In New York City, Ryan McKenzie picked up and threw away all the discarded gloves and masks he found on the street over the weekend.
(Wong, 2020)

(Moyer and Chikwendiu, 2020)

Some behaviors or activities that are reflected in the items I discarded over the past week are spending more time at home eating and drinking as well as more cleaning from disposed items like, disinfectant wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, water bottles, grocery bags, food and beverage cans, latex gloves, masks.

Compared to the timeframe before COVID-19 impacts, there has been major a shift in the total amount of garbage accumulated. More specifically, the disinfectant wipes, canned goods, canned beverages, paper towels, toilet tissue, juice bottles, food packaging, online order packages/ boxes, beverage bottles, etc. has a repeated appearance within my own garbage. Thus, an increase in the consumption of not only food but other items such as cleaning supplies is apparent during these times.

When considering other people’s trash in my neighborhood, I expect to see more cleaning bottles, disinfectant wipes, disinfectant spray bottles, paper towels, paper towels wrappers, toilet tissue wrappers, plastic bottles, latex or nylon gloves, protective masks because there are more members within their household along with, more people are staying home rather than going to work or school. In regards of the trash that I might see less of than my own are items like, dog food cans, dog wipes, and dog treat packaging because my neighbors does not own any pets. The number of items that I think would be the same amount as my own garbage is the number of cardboard boxes from online purchases, or food packages like chip bags, juice bottles, condiment jars, and wrappers because everyone is stuck at home or has few places that they can go to or make a purchase from without violating social distancing orders provided by the government and healthcare providers.

The changes in consumption reflects what is happening on a social level right now by because the increase in the overall amount shows how people are spending more time at home instead of other places. This indicates how individuals are also more cautious of their overall health during this time due to the mass amounts of cleaning supply bottles, wipes, latex gloves, protective masks, and disinfectant bottles present.

A future archaeologist would see a dramatic increase in the amount of garbage within each household versus public buildings, more food waste, disinfectant bottles, wipes, paper towels, candy wrappers, eggshells, plastic eggs. Archaeologist might interpret the increase in the amount of garbage within each household versus public buildings as an era where humans are experiencing a crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, future archaeologists might distinguish how people are spending most of their time at home eating, cooking, online shopping, and other in-home activities since schools, shopping malls, and other businesses are shut down. To add on, archaeologist might interpret the increase in candy wrappers, eggshells, and plastic eggs, as a pandemic during the month of April because of the Easter holiday and how Americans carry out holiday traditions during troubling times. The increase in cleaning supply bottles, disinfectant wipes and bottles, latex gloves, and protective face masks shows humans reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak during this time and how social distance has affected how people interact with others when leaving their home.

References

Moyer, Wm. J., & Chikwendiu, J. (2020, April  9). Coronavirus spring-cleaning surge leaves residential garbage cans overflowing. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/coronavirus-spring-cleaning-surge-leaves-residential-garbage-cans-overflowing/2020/04/09/eba1ac10-79cd-11ea-8cec-530b4044a458_story.html

Wong, B. (2020, April 8). Please Stop Throwing Your Used Gloves Or Masks On The Ground. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/stop-throwing-gloves-masks-on-the-ground_l_5e8e08fac5b670b4330a7b93

About Me: Jennifer

Hello! I am currently a senior at the University of Washington Seattle campus. I am majoring in Medical Anthropology and Global Health. I really enjoy the anthropology aspect because this allows me to explore different perspectives within the healthcare community. This will be my first Archaeology course that I will be taking and am super excited to see what this class has to offer. On my spare time, I enjoy going to the dog park with my dog and going on new adventures with her. I also enjoy relaxing with my dog and “smooshing” her face time after time. 🙂