Essay on Civil War Archaeology

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881 words
Middlebury College
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The topic I am brainstorming for my final essay is Civil War Archaeology. The reason I chose this topic is the love I have for the history of America and what archaeologists do in order to dig up more information about it. My target audience is students of history and archaeology and lovers of these subjects like myself. In my essay, I intend to look at the triad method that archaeologists use in their study of the civil war. This method mainly entails the study of artifacts, features, and sites. It is, actually, its interests in these three areas that earned this approach the name triad or trinity.

In their attempt to reconstruct the materials of the civil war in America, archaeologists always look at three areas. These three areas entail the sites, artifacts, and features. Sites refer to the real places where the events took place (Siliman par.1).. They may include the areas where camps where were built by the soldiers as they fought, places where they built their forts and battlefields among other areas. On the other hand, features include man-made items found at the sites during the excavation. Unlike the artifacts, they cannot be taken out of the sites (Siliman par.1). They may include the trenches dug by the soldiers, remains of a building or fireplaces. Artefacts include man-made items that can be carried out on the site including remains of bullets, pieces of cloth from the soldiers uniforms, buttons and boots among other items. This paper looks at the use of the triad method in the analysis of the origin of the civil war archaeology, comparison of archaeology and relic collection and finally in determining the direction for the archaeology of the civil war.

Through the use of such a method, archaeologists are able to use methods such as letters, diaries, journals, military records and many other sources of primary historical information in making the picture of the war more vivid to people who did not witness the real happenings (Siliman par.2). They help bring the real picture of the war to perspective. It is comparable to listening to a narration from a soldier that took part in the war.

Cobb County, specifically, Kennesaw Mountain, was the first ever documented site for the excavation of the civil war. This happened in the year 1930. Archaeologists came across a few artefacts that helped them record the activities of the confederates at this battle field (Siliman par.4). These archaeologists were forerunners to the use of archaeology in the understanding of the civil war. Previously, many archaeologists paid more attention to older occurrences and sites. The passing of the National Historic Preservation Act in the year 1966 also played a key role in the expansion of Civil War Archaeology. It gave it new impetus (Siliman par.4).

Relic collections began as early as when the war itself was still on. People living around the battlefields would go to the sites in search of souvenirs. Relic collection, however, varies to a very great extent from archaeology in both method and reason. Whereas relic collection is done for fun, archaeology is done with a view to helping future generations learn about the past (Siliman par.5). With regard to method, archaeology mainly uses the triad method in systematically collecting certain artifacts and studying specific features in identified sites. On the other hand, relic collection is haphazard in its search for souvenirs. Worse still, relic collection has been discouraged for introducing bias in the recording of history. In fact, it is now banned in the United States of America.

The new direction for civil war archaeology in Georgia encompasses the use of technology in the identification of sites, features, and artifacts. The main type of technology embraced by archaeologists is the geographic information system (GIS), whose application mainly helps map the ancient mapping system to todays mapping system (Siliman par.6).. This makes it very easy for archaeologists to identify the sites, artifacts, and features on the landscape of Georgia. Besides, the technology helps make follow-ups on the preservation of archaeological sites in the whole of Georgia. This has been a major problem for authorities and archaeologists to handle for many years. Other technologies such as the ground penetrating radar are also being embraced by archaeologist to reach artefacts that cannot be easily reached due to the sites being covered by modern constructions.

Archaeologists have recently done quite an amount of work in Georgia. This work includes the excavation of the place where the Battle of Chickamauga took place. This site is found in the northern part of Georgia. They have also studied Tybee Island in the coastal part of Georgia and the transactions between ordinary citizens and the army at the site that hosted the battle of Pickett Mill. In addition to these, archaeology students then studying at the University of Georgia uncovered the ground on which stood the Camp Lawton, which was a prison that was deliberately built to help decongest Andersonville Prison. This site was previously not disturbed by any people staying there or excavators looking for materials. As a result, it has been a source of some of the best civil war artefacts and features.

Works Cited

Siliman, Garrett. Civil War Archaeology. New Georgia Encyclopedia, 2010, Accessed 20th Oct. 2017.

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