The Dig's Up: Archeology Debuts at A&M International This Fall

If you dig old bones, are spellbound by ancient mysteries or ponder about what had Egyptian mummies all wound up, a new course at Texas A&M International University has something for what ails you.

For the first time in the University's history, an introductory course in Archeology, ANTH 2302, will be offered this Spring Semester.

The course will meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9-9:50 a.m. and fills three hours of the social science requirement for students. Those wanting to take the course for enrichment are also encouraged to register.

Instructor Jaclyn Jeffrey said the course is an opportunity to connect with the past and answer some intriguing questions.

"If you've ever wondered if there really was an Atlantis, if King Arthur was a real person, if the ancient Mayas predicted when men would land on the moon or if there really is a curse of the mummy's tomb, I think this course will prove fascinating," she said.

Jeffrey said that the advent of new technology has made archeology more exciting than ever before.

"The exciting thing about studying archeology right now is that we are able to use new scientific research methods to try to solve ancient mysteries. For example, for years anthropologists have puzzled over how ancient Polynesians were able to transport those giant stone statues across the ocean to Easter Island. Now we can use computer simulated scenarios to figure it out," she said.

And what about those mummies?

"Now we have the use of genetic testing on Egyptian mummies. Ancient texts tell us that Egyptian royal families were very inbred-- brothers with sisters, and so on--because only royalty could mate with royalty. Now we are finding out that our interpretation of the texts were indeed accurate--the mummies in family tombs all share the same DNA," she noted.

Jeffrey aid the tradition of archeology had its first and best American spokesperson in favorite son Thomas Jefferson.

"Thomas Jefferson was the first archeologist in America. He used incredibly enlightened and sensitive methods to excavate Indian burial mounds in Virginia. On the other hand, the first European archeologists were incredibly crude in their excavations, using dynamite to blow open Egyptian pyramids. We can only imagine how much valuable information and how many valuable artifacts were destroyed in that way," she explained.

Jeffrey said the University's beginning class will focus on basic archeological research techniques.

"As this is a beginning class,we will learn what basic archeological research can now tell us about the ancient world. We'll also learn the basics of how to do archeology at a nearby site. I think students will gain a real appreciation of the importance of diligence, and careful excavation techniques like fine screen filtering and high-tech surveying to help uncover the knowledge that the past leaves behind," she said.

Jeffrey is completing her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Florida at Gainesville. She has lectured at Baylor University and the University of Florida.

Registration for the Spring Semester is Jan 13-14 from 1-7 p.m. Classes begin Jan. 19. Late registration continues through Jan. 25. For additional information, contact the College of Arts and Humanities at 326.2460. University office hours are from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu