On October 7th and November 28th, youth from local elementary schools and the community visited the Cobb Institute of Archaeology to participate in our annual Mock excavation It was originally developed as an outreach program in 2008 by Dylan Karges as part of an Archaeology Month program for Eupora Arts Inc, the local arts agency in Eupora, MS. This coordinated a month of activities to engage the public with art and archaeology with art workshops for children to create their own work and then return to excavate them in the first edition of the mock excavation. These activities were held in conjunction with exhibitions of artifacts and illustrations from Tell Halif, Israel and a lecture by Dr. Hardin to discuss the finds and context of Tell Halif. In 2011, Dylan, Tim Frank – a graduate student with experience at Tell Halif, and Verna Gentile – an undergraduate in Anthropology worked to coordinate the first mock excavation held at MSU, the “Excavation Simulation Station.” The name was shortened after that year, but the programming continues to serve the community.
The mock excavation has one mission and that is to share with the youth of our community and beyond the thrill of discovery through hands-on learning in the science of archaeology. Through a simulated archaeological site designed and installed by current graduate and undergraduate students in Anthropology at MSU, AMEC engages in a public archaeology program that promotes understanding and appreciation for archaeology as a discipline and for the artifacts found all around us. This program bridges the gaps in understanding and misunderstanding about the importance of our collective past, the cultural heritage of our native peoples, and the preservation of artifacts and sites for a broader understanding of history and each other.
For many of us, our love of archaeology comes from when we were children ourselves. From a curiosity about the past and a love of digging around in the dirt. Seeing the excitement and joy on the faces of the kids that participate in this program as they “discover” artifacts and piece together what they might be able to tell us is truly rewarding.
By Dylan Karges and Erina Baci
Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead, a holiday celebrated primarily in Mexico, begins on October 31st and ends on November 2nd. It is a time of celebration and family. Families create altars filled with food, photos, and memorabilia of their departed loved ones to entice them to spend time with their still living family members. In honor of this holiday, the Latino Student Association, Anthropology Club, the Spanish Honors Society, and the Multicultural Greek Council got together to host a Day of the Dead celebration.
The event was held on November 2nd, in front of Lee Hall. There were 4 booths that each organization helped to put together. These booths included art and crafts, such as sugar skull decorating and face painting.
It also included an information booth about Day of the Dead and a food booth where Mexican hot chocolate and the Mexican sweet bread conchas were served.
In a separate location not far from the celebration, there was an altar where people could place their decorated sugar skulls as well as memoirs of their loved ones who have passed.
Later, someone from the Spanish Honors Society gave a presentation on Day of the Dead. They offered information on what the holiday meant to the Mexican identity, for those in Mexico and for migrants who are now in the United States. Altar size and offerings, traditional festivities, food and drinks, and even clothing, were all discussed in the presentation.
They also emphasized the importance of not having this holiday lumped in with Halloween, which is a common occurrence as Day of the Dead is close to the more popularized holiday. Though people celebrate Day of the Dead with skeletonized embodiments, it is not worn as a costume as in Halloween. Instead, it started as satirical commentary of Mexican culture but later became a part of the fun festivities of the holiday. Today, it would not be uncommon to see people on the streets of Mexico celebrating Dia de los Muertos in full body skeleton regalia, as seen below.
The Day of the Dead event was a great success, thanks to the cooperation of many different groups. Sharing this cultural tradition with others who are ready to learn and become a part of the holiday in a respectful way encourages unity and bolsters friendships. The hope is to continue the tradition in coming years and to inform and education on this very special celebration.
By Andrea Lopez
Ingomar Mounds Mississippi Archaeology Month Event
Ingomar Mounds held its Mississippi Archaeology Month event on Saturday, October 28th. This event gave a snapshot into what life would have been like for those who built the mounds. A small team of archaeologists from the Cobb Institute of Archaeology set up a table at the opening of the site to display artifacts and to model some flintknapping. Petra Banks is pictured below showing off her flintknapping skills. William Harris (pictured to the left showing a few tourists some artifacts) led tours of the mound and the surrounding areas. The mound can be accessed by a flight of stairs and was fascinating to witness.
The event also hosted several individuals who were marketing their own flintknapping handiwork. A variety of items were on display, such as flinted glass, bison tooth necklaces, and stone points. It was fascinating to see such craftsmanship and skill in flintknapping. I know from a small amount of experience and a large number of smashed fingers and whacked thighs that flintknapping is not an easy task to get right. The Ingomar event gave me and the others who visited the site a chance to see what real flintknapping expertise looks like.
In addition to the variety of fascinating tents, there was also a chance for visitors to show their skills at atlatl throwing and bow and arrow shooting, or to learn for the first time. A few skilled individuals were happy to show us how to hold the arrow correctly and some of us even managed to hit the target!
Ingomar Mounds hosted a fantastic Archaeology Month event and everyone from eight-year-old amateur flintknappers to eighty-year-old history buffs could find something with which to get their hands dirty.
By Cate McAlpine