Wednesday, October 11, 2017

An Archaeologist's Perspective: from the Field to Museum, Minoan to Kumeyaay

Since childhood, I have been fascinated by history.  It is more than a static list of events and people long-since passed.  It is instead the living narrative of where we have been, and of the human condition and perspective through time.  It encapsulates our collective achievements and failures – locally and globally – and everything in between.  History is the story of us; the people whose actions and thoughts are remembered through it are no less relatable today than your neighbor across the street.  And just like those neighbors in the past, today we live and create history with every passing moment.  It is our inheritance, and our own legacy. 

My name is Dr. David Breeckner.  I am an archaeologist.  It is my job to study human history and prehistory through both excavation and the analysis of the material goods or remains discovered within.  My background is in Mediterranean civilizations, with a focus on the Bronze Age Minoans. My specialty is pottery, the material that I consider to be the key to deciphering ancient peoples and cultures. 

Since August, I have traded the Mediterranean for the desert, and the Minoans for the Kumeyaay.  Driving across the country from my family's home in rural New Hampshire, I now live on-site in the town of Ocotillo, CA.  Over the next few weeks, I will share my experiences in the study of history, in the work that I've done, and the work that I do now.  I invite you to follow along as I “dig” into my own personal past.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Value of an Education

We held our first Evening w/ an Expert of the season tonight. It was a dinner event associated with the History 586 class that I am teaching at SDSU Imperial Valley Campus. The class has been looking at foodways from the paleolithic era to the agricultural revolution to the Roman Empire. We have been reading Feast: Why Humans Share Food, by Martin Jones, and Spice: the History of a Temptation, by Jack Turner. Tonight was a hands-on investigation of the taste of ancient foodways!

This is my favorite class that I teach, and my favorite event at the museum. We tasted four dishes that have come down through the ages, and students ate with lithic tools. What does that mean...

Seriously, students had a random selection of tools that they could use to eat with, from a basalt hand axe, to an obsidian point, to a hafted glass point knapped from the bottom of a beer bottle.

The Imperial Valley Desert Museum has a goal of being the most fun education institution in the region. I think we achieved that tonight!

After dinner Dr. David Breeckner presented his work on the ceramics of the Minoan civilization on Crete. In the History 586 class we had readings on Minoan Crete, so the tie in was amazing. It is one thing to read a book. It is a totally other thing to listen to someone talk about their direct experience with an archaeological site.

From start to finish, this was an amazing event. Thanks to all who came, and to all who supported the event. It costs a lot to do innovative educational programming. But there is a value in education. Both the food and Dr. Breeckner proved that tonight!