Heritage, Volume 11, Number 2, Spring 1993 Page: 26
A commentary by Brenda B. Whorton
Indiana Jones really had it made - all
those adventures in exotic settings, wine,
women, and a song or two. Peel away the
elaborate cinematographic trappings, and
we might even remember where those
daring exploits were leading. But was it
really archaeology, or did we j ust get carried
away by the romance of it all?
For the most part, those of us engaged in
Texas archaeology either on a professional
or avocational level are a highly motivated
group of people. Often we became interested
in the subject through a relative or friend
who had some "arrowheads" or knew where
they could be found. Gradually, we wanted
to know more about how the Indians lived
and how they made the objects we saw in
museums or books. Always there was the
sense of awe, of reverence almost, for these
people who lived so long ago.
So we studied history, and that was all
right as far as it went. The problem was that
it didn't go far enough. Lingering in the
26 HERITAGE * SPRING 1993
Indiana Jones had it
made -- exotic settings,
wine, women. Was it
really archaeology, or
did we just get carried
away by the romance?
background was a pervasive feeling that
our quest for knowledge or our curiosity
about the past was not fulfilled. What discipline
would augment the historical record
and dissipate the dark mist of prehistory?
Somehow we stumbled upon archaeology,
and we began to see more clearly.
On the surface it would seem that Texas
archaeology is not anything like archaeology
in the Valley of the Kings, but there are
many similarities. Our state is so blessed
with environmental diversity that the study
of people who adapted to this diversity is
bound to turn up some parallels -with more
high-profile ancient cultures. Texans needs
not suffer from an archaeological inferiority
complex just because we don't have
pyramids and monumental architecture.
To put it bluntly, objects are not the point
People are the focus of archaeology, and
archaeologists are driven to know the who,
what, when, how, and why behind the
man-made objects they find. A beautifully
formed pottery jar may convey its aesthetic
qualities, but only by studying the vessel
through the archaeological process can we
understand its technology and function.
Putting together clues provided by archaeology
is part of the romance of archaeology.
There are times in the life of every
archaeologist when some small event speaks
almost audibly of the past. Maybe it is the
Here’s what’s next.
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Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 11, Number 2, Spring 1993, periodical, Spring 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth46808/m1/26/: accessed March 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.