- Feb 2017
www.histarch.illinois.edu www.histarch.illinois.eduParting Ways10
https://www.mhschool.com/ss/ca/esp/images/img_g5u3_quiz_map_colonies.jpg Plymouth Massachusetts is located beside cape cod bay. This region is known for its culture and history. It is also referred to as "America's Hometown" because it is home to the pilgrims who traveled on the Mayflower and colonized the area in 1620.
The occupants of the site constructed their houses differently, disposed of their trash differently, arranged their community differently.
I never really understood an object's ability to tell a story before reading this passage. After Deetz examined the homes of these men, he was able to spot differences in the way they lived their lives. This has inspired me to stop and examine my own surrounding more often.
Nothing is known of Cato Howe's early life, before his military service.
The lack of historical documentation for this community is partially due to the time era in which they lived. During this time, Americans could record their lives through methods such as journaling while the slave population weren't even allowed to learn how to write. Also, since slaves were considered property, they most often didn't have birth certificates or other documentation of that nature. In more modern times, however, history is more often documented and more easily preserved. This is another reason why the earthquake survivors in Italy will be able to repair their culture effortlessly.
terminus post quem
The term "terminus post quem," Latin for "limit after which," can be defined as the earliest date that something could have been in existence. Through out the excavation process Deetz attempts to pinpoint the "terminus post quem" for many objects found on the site in order to draft a timeline or a storyline for the Parting Ways residents.
Definition source: https://anthropology.si.edu/writteninbone/comic/activity/pdf/TPQ.pdf
James F. Deetz
This is a link to a summary of James Deetz's work and a list of his other publications. This helped me to understand the motivation behind his work as well as the importance of it. He was mostly concerned with how cultures changed over time and how physical artifacts translated into beliefs or principles.
In the article "Historical treasures lost, damaged in Italian quake" Alanne Orjoux reveals the destruction inflicted upon central Italy by a massive earthquake. She includes photographs and personal accounts in order to further illustrate the devastation felt by the citizens and wreckage created from historical and cultural sites. For a country that pride's itself on its astounding architecture, a natural disaster such as this is catastrophic to the culture. Similar to the destruction caused by the earthquake, the culture of the African Americans featured in "Parting Ways" was also destroyed when they were ripped away from their homes and families to become enslaved. After their emancipation, they attempted to reconstruct what they had lost on the land that was given to them. However, their habits and ethnology had since become muddled with some newly adapted "American ways."
"Historical treasures lost, damaged in Italian quake." CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.
Had they not also been in the Army, we would know less still.
Deetz reveals that he already has very little information on the men of Parting Ways. Then he goes on to say that if they weren't in the Army, he would know even less. It is very shocking to see how much of their history is created simply from inferences and guesses. This leads me to question how much of the history we learn in school was documented in a similar fashion and the validity of such history.
When excavations were completed on the Burr cellar and in the depressed area nearby, a clear and intriguing set of architectural features had been revealed
Since the community affected by the earthquake in Italy most likely has older members to pass on accounts and first hand stories regarding the culture and history of the area, I would say that they are at an advantage compared to the men of the Parting Ways community. Since it was common for slaves to be separated from their families with no method of contact, their culture was much harder to keep in tact.
Since the artifactual and architectural remains of these communities are a better index of the life of African Americans in their own terms, they hold great promise of supplementing American black history in a different and important way.
Through out this entire reading I couldn't help but to question the morality of these excavations. I am skeptical on whether or not disturbing someone else's property simply for a guess as to how they might have lived or a slight peek into their culture yields enough information or payoff.
Broken on the cellar floor were two large earthenware jars unlike any before encountered on a New England historical site.
Although I questioned the validity of the history that comes from these excavations, Deetz's prior research appears to be extremely thorough. By looking a pieces of a jar, he could not only describe its origin, but he also knew its uses and could therefore explain its presence in the house.