Historical Arch Reading - HlsroRncAr AmcHAEoroGy Second...

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HlsroRncAr AmcHAEoroGy Second Edition OAStn- '{'E X Charles E. Orser, !r. U niversity Distinguished professor of Anthropolow I llinois State lJ niversity Upper Saddle Riveq, New Jersey 0245g
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Cha,pter JI Wmnr ns HnsromncAr Am,cmAEoroGy? " Archaeology has reoolutionized hi.story V Gordon Childe, 1944 In the year 1781, Thomas Jeffersory the future president of the United States, re- tired to the peace of his country estate at Monticello, Virginia, where he indulged a passion for academic research (Figure 1.1). Surroundedby ,,his family, his faim, and his books," Jefferson sat down to compile a lengthy discourse, which he enti_ lled Noleson the State of Virginia. He wrote of laws and money and of products "animal, vegetable, and mineral." He was especially interested in the naii.,,.e peo- ples of his beloved state,and like many leamed men of the time, he wondered about their origins. European settlers in America asked about the builders of the silent earthen mounds that dotted the landscape of the eastern United States. In some places, the mounds were maiestic and flat-topped, in others small and rounded. Were the Mound Builders a vanished race who had misrated to the New World, perhaps from as far away as the Holy Land, and then constructed the great mounds after battling and subjugating the Native Americans around them? Or were the mysterious earthworks built by the forebears of the Native Americans who still lived in eastern North America? Were the mounds built bv someone elseentirely? Jefferson was cautious and initially decided not to take a stand on the Mound Builders' origins. The debate raged for years among his friends, in the coffee shops of Philadelphia and Boston, and with antiqiarians around the world. But unlike his contemporaries, Jefferson decided to uie excavation to find conclusive hformation about the mysterious people.
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Chapter I \yhat ls Historical Archaeology7 Figure 1.1 Thornas Jefferson, early American archaeoloqist. Jefferson chosean earthwork near the Rivanna River, a small mound that I::_l_::p:,:l:"r{ of the dead" (Figure 1.2). tn 1784, his slaves dug a perpendicu_ rar rrencn through the tumulus, ,,so that I might examine its internal str-Lrcture.,, He recorded layers of human bones. at differe"nt depths, many lyrng in complete confusion, "so as, on the whole, to give the idea of 1o"", "lrrp'ti"i pio_isc.,rJusly from a bag or basket.,, _ The story of America,s first scientific archaeological excavation, one of the earliest in the world, is well known. Jefferson was the?rst scientist to identify the Mound Builders as Native Americans. He standsas the first person in the history of archaeology to make a careful and, for his day, scientifrc-e.icar]ation ot a Natlve American burial rnound. _r^, "U^1,_"]:-l-l:t*son, the great thinker that he was, would never have guessed :Tl^","-i,i: ll: :"ltemporaries-the slaves who performed the digging, ihe car- naBe dnver who drove him to the earthwork, and the merchant wht sofo hlm the
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Archaeology?
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