Frequently Asked Questions / Uncategorized

Did aliens build the pyramids? Did the Myceneans come to North America? And other archaeological questions with racist roots.

At a party recently, I found myself having a conversation with someone who was really interested in the work that I do (this is common- I have a cool job). He had lots of questions for me about what I thought about new local archaeological findings from the area. Inevitably, the topic of the Myceneans … Continue reading

Interpreting Scholarly Articles / Uncategorized

The past as propaganda: totalitarian archaeology in Nazi Germany

Arnold, B., 1990. The past as propaganda: totalitarian archaeology in Nazi Germany. Antiquity, 64(244), pp.464-478. Synopsis: I came across this article while researching The Problem with Culture History: The Celtic Example and The Real Indiana Jones(es): Gustaf Kossina.  The author provides a fascinating history of the ways in which archaeology legitimized the position of the Nazi party. She notes that in … Continue reading

The Real Indiana Jones(es): Gustaf Kossina
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The Real Indiana Jones(es): Gustaf Kossina

Today I wanted to talk about a famous, and very controversial archaeologist. He helped to cement the transition to culture-historical archaeology, but he also helped to lay the groundwork for Nazi propoganda. Though Kossina promoted a lot of ideas that are frankly disgusting to modern archaeologists, he nonetheless represents a major shift in archaeological thinking. … Continue reading

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The Human-Environment Relationship: The Impacts of Fire

The relationship of humans and the environment is incredibly complex. While human culture and society are inevitably shaped, in part, by the environment in which they live, humans themselves may shape the environment even more. Human activities have resulted in changes to forest and vegetation composition, the creation and expansion of grasslands, as well as … Continue reading

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Culture-History

Uncovering Theory Topic #2 Culture-History Starting in the mid-19th century, the culture-historical approach was the main method used by archaeologists to think about prehistoric cultures. In this paradigm, the geographical distribution of material culture was used to create timelines of major occurrences and cultural change. It was assumed that stylistic variation were a straightforward indicator … Continue reading

He Who Buys the Past Controls History: The Recent Hobby Lobby Controversy
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He Who Buys the Past Controls History: The Recent Hobby Lobby Controversy

When news broke of the participation of the Hobby Lobby conglomerate in smuggling and purchasing antiquities, I was initially hesitant about writing about such a major news story. But this case beautifully (and horrifically) illustrates why the antiquities trade and in turn looting are bad for archaeology. The sale of antiquities is a tale as … Continue reading