(July 6, 2021)—Archaeological sites can often be wondrous and mind-boggling attractions. Angkor Wat, Göbekli Tepe, and Chaco Canyon are impressive to behold, inspiring many to imagine a rich and colorful past. Although the Gila River Farm site is not as immediately awe-inspiring as the Colosseum, it is an important archaeological place with a significance of its own.
Over the past five weeks here at field school, my understanding of archaeology and place has changed. Before the program, I was inspired by the allure of major archaeological questions yet unanswered. In my eyes, archaeology was about the overarching big picture connecting every minute detail of human collective behavior into one grand, unifying theory. It was the seemingly unanswerable questions that made me fall in love with the subject.
Here in this place, however, I have fallen in love with archaeology all over again, and in new ways. Gila River Farm is a much more intimate space than, say, the Colosseum—it is a home. Although I can never truly understand the connection these people had with their homes, I understand in some ways that connection to a place. The rooms we excavated are places where people slept, ate, cried, and laughed.
Creating a sense of place has shaped how I understand archaeology. This time, I have fallen in love with the mundane. The simple questions—why is this rock shaped into this kind of tool and not another? Why are these ceramic sherds here and not there? What’s that unidentified artifact? I hope someday someone asks those questions about the forks in my drawer.
I feel more connected to archaeology as a study of humanity. Maybe I’ve grown from unattainable questions to people questions? Either way, this place has brought it all back home.