Project Main Details
Pretty interesting huh?
What is it, exactly?
Imagine if this artifact could talk. I could ask it questions like: Where did you come from? (China) What was your purpose? (To hold things, such as cosmetics) What is that symbol you’re wearing? How old are you? (Don’t you know you should never ask an artifact it’s age?)
Lucky for us we can use science to answer these questions.
Now, let’s take a deeper look and see how this single type of artifact can help answer the BIG question:
What was maritime trade like in East and Southeast Asia 800 years ago?
So, how do we go about answering the big question:
What was maritime trade like in Asia eight centuries ago?
Well, it starts by asking a lot of other , often smaller, questions and then getting more scientists and researchers involved and having them ask even more questions.
As we all collect answers to these questions, we work together to answer the BIG one.
This is the Cyrus Tang Hall of China exhibition at The Field Museum and these covered boxes, along with many others, are part of our Java Sea Shipwreck collection.
The remains of this ship, which might be more than 800 years old, were excavated in the 1990s. The site contained a variety of trade goods, from mass-produced all the way to unique luxury items. Using the artifacts from the wreck, we can learn a lot about ancient maritime trade in China and Southeast Asia.
As scientists, we ask many geographical, economical, and cultural questions about a single artifact or set of artifacts.
Where were these artifacts found?
What are they made of?
Where did the materials used to make them come from?
Where was the ship heading?
Who made or procured these artifacts?
How were they produced?
How was value assigned to them?
What do these symbols mean?
Why were they used on these artifacts?
How are these artifacts similar to artifacts in other cultures?
All these questions only scratch the surface of the multitude of questions that we can ask.
As we begin to collect answers to more questions about more artifacts we can begin to paint a picture of history. Can you start to see how we can start to tell a much bigger story?
We can discover how they were made, how they were traded, who used them, and the connections that tied people together.
Archaeology, which is part of Anthropology, is a field that is all about collaboration, different people looking at the same material through different lenses.
Each researcher plays a vital role in answering a BIG question, which then contributes to learning about the technologies, environments, social relations, and cultural traditions of ancient civilizations.
Now it’s your turn to examine an object, \ to uncover its mysteries.
What perspective will you take?
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