How Do the Walls Around the World Function Differently?

After World War Ⅱ, the number of border walls all over the world increases significantly. Nowadays the border situation between the US and Mexico is widely discussed, and a wall is actually in people’s envision. What are some border walls in other countries like? Do they all function as the prevention of illegal migrants and refugees?

Serving similar purpose with the wall between US and Mexico, the security at Calais port between France and UK prevents illegal migrants from entering the UK. The security is equipped with detection technologies, such as heartbeat and carbon dioxide detectors, and both countries funded together for a “control and command center”. One difference between Calais port and US border wall is that Calais port prevents the migration problem “at source”, with the aid of strict systems, while the US border wall exposes migrants into the potential danger in the desert. What’s more, between UK and France governments, there is a promoted joint agreement to determine if the migrants are accepted as asylum seekers, get detained or deported.

Another example is the fences in Europe. Hungary and Slovenia are two countries with the region’s largest expanse of fences. These border fences serve to prevent illegal migrants as well but face more religious issues than the one between US and Mexico. It is revealed that people living near these barriers often find that they serve little purpose and can be psychologically damaging. For example, children in the camp in village are scared of their proximity to the fence.

Figure 1. The border wall along Hungary and Slovenia.

We are probably familiar with US president Trump’s use of the Great Wall in China as a comparison to his plans of building the wall. However, these two walls actually serve distinct purposes. The Great Wall was built to prevent exterior military incursion instead of as a security barrier. The construction of Great Wall started in 7th century BC, went through several dynasties, and finished in Ming dynasty. The Great Wall is not impregnable in Chinese history, so perhaps the border wall between US and Mexico will not be totally impregnable as well; moreover, according to Edward Alden, trade policy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, increased enforcement efforts along the border may explain about 35 to 40 percent of the decline in illegal immigration flow.

Figure 2. The Great Wall served as the prevention of military attacks.

Nowadays, the border wall that is actually similar to the Great Wall is probably the wall built by Saudi Arabia. The 600-mile-long wall in their northern frontier is built to prevent ISIS from attacking the oil-rich territory.

If the government is determined to use border wall to prevent migration, it might be better to set up an excellent system instead of exposing the migrants in danger in the desert. And even though the wall may serve well politically, we need to think about how to reduce the psychological effect it brings to people who live nearby.



Hjelmgaard, Kim

2018 From 7 to 77: There’s been an explosion in building border walls since World War II. Electronic document,, accessed December 2, 2018


BBC News

2016 Calais migrants: How is the UK-France border policed? Electronic document,, accessed December 2, 2018


Hjelmgaard, Kim

2018 Trump isn’t the only one who wants to build a wall. These European nations already did. Electronic document,, accessed December 2, 2018


Michelle Ye Hee Lee

2016 Why Trump’s comparison of his wall to the Great Wall of China makes no sense. Electronic document,, accessed December 2, 2018



2015 Saudi Arabia Builds 600 Mile Wall to Keep Islamic State OUT! Electronic document,, accessed December 2, 2018


Further Reading:

The (Anthropological) Truth about Walls


The Trump Wall in Archaeological Perspective



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How Archaeology Can Help Us Understand the Homeless

Homeless people exist in most urban areas; according to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the state of California alone has roughly 134,000 homeless people in it––more than some countries (United States Interagency Council on Homelessness 2017). We don’t really like to think too much about them––we may give them a bit of our sympathy or maybe just look the other way––but they do exist, and they are indeed human, just like us.

Larry Zimmerman studies artifacts from common homeless resting places in order to get people to understand the homeless in cities. By investigating these sites, Zimmerman, assisted by a student, Jessica Welch, who was homeless for a period of time, determined that the modern day homeless is likened to an “urban nomad,” as they are extraordinarily adaptable (Zimmerman 2016). Many homeless people “panhandle” for money, their locations being spread out and diverse within the city. Welch explained this situation:

This image depicts a camp site scattered with essentials and valuables, which are frequently discarded as trash by city officials.

“You develop coping mechanisms––a fight or flight response–– when you are homeless that are probably not appropriate in mainstream culture. You get increasingly defensive and desperate. This is just one of the many things that make it difficult for homeless people to re-enter normal society. We have to understand that a goal of creating more affordable housing units is not enough; we need a complete social safety net, including better treatment and counseling options, and plenty of compassion and understanding on the part of the community” (Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis 2008).

While more affordable housing units is an excellent start to decreasing the rate of homelessness in cities, we need to actually understand the people we actively shun. While investigating the sites, Zimmerman and Welch discovered an abnormally large amount of hotel shampoo and conditioner, which was left unused. Why would people without a reliable access to water have a need for stolen hotel shampoo and conditioner? We also give them cans of food, but no can openers. This just shows an ignorance about homelessness; we give the homeless what we think they need, but not what they actually want or need. Some picture homeless people as uneducated, when in reality, many of them can and love to read. They also own many priceless objects, such as pictures of their family, or medications; these are frequently thrown out by city officials. Some consider themselves “home free,” as they are liberated from the confines of mortgages and rules.

Though we think of them as “homeless” many actually consider themselves “home free,” as they are free of the constraints that come with a house.

Perhaps this archaeology of homelessness could educate us about what the homeless are really like and what they really need. Charities and shelters could help them more than ever before; they now know not to waste money on cosmetic supplies and can now focus their efforts on essentials. It is best to stop treating these homeless people like lepers––they are not invisible and they do not plague and pollute the streets of cities. A homeless person is just like you or me: a person––a human being that is worth understanding.



Albertson, Nicole.

November 2009  Archaeology of the Homeless. Archaeology Volume 62 Number 6.

Zimmerman, Larry J., Singleton, Courtney, and Welch, Jessica.

August 2010  Activism and creating a translational archaeology of homelessness. World Archaeology Volume 42, 443-454.

Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.

November 2008  Archaeology of Homelessness accessed December

1, 2018.

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

2017  Homelessness Statistics by State[]=1500&fn[]=2900&fn[]=6100&fn[]=10100&fn[]=14100&all_types=true&year=2017&state=CA accessed December 2, 2018.


Additional Readings:

Politics of Homelessness in the United States

U.K.’s Homelessness Problem Is Growing, and Spreading, Report Finds

State of Homelessness

Bosnian Pyramids: The Influence and Consequences of Pseudo-Archaeology

In 2005, Semir Osmanagich was convinced that he had made one of the biggest finds in archaeological history. He claimed that some of the hills nearby the city of Visoko in Bosnia and Herzegovina were actually pyramids built by an unidentified ancient society (figure 1). If this was true, they would be the tallest step pyramids in the world, with the largest, dubbed the Pyramid of the Sun by Osmanagich, measuring 720 feet tall, which is about 240 feet taller than the Pyramid of Khufu, the largest pyramid in Egypt. He also believed them to be the oldest pyramids in the world, that they were built 12,000 years ago, meaning that they preceded the construction of the oldest Egyptian pyramid by over 8,000 years (Woodard 2009).


Figure 1: A pyramidal hill located right outside the town of Visoko, thought of by many in Bosnia to be an ancient pyramid covered in earth and vegetation.

Other than the shape of the hills resembling that of pyramids, Osmanagich had no clear archaeological evidence to back up his claim. The European Association of Archaeologists even called the pyramids “A cruel hoax on an unsuspecting public” and labeled his theory unscientific and all his findings either natural features or artifacts that came from the groups of people that have lived in the valley since the Greco-Roman period (Keats 2018). Osmanagich further discredited his own case by making farfetched speculations about the pyramids, like how they were made out of a concrete that is better than what is used today and how they allowed people to communicate via torsion fields while also improving their health and lengthening their lifespans (Keats 2018).


Figure 2: One of the many shops in Visoko benefitting from the influx of tourists.

Despite everything that was working against Omanagich’s conjectures, they were eagerly embraced by much of Bosnia, including many government officials, resulting in support of the theory being tied into Bosnian nationalism, with any skepticism branded as anti-Bosnian (Woodard 2009). This is not surprising, seeing as accepting this glamorous addition to the country’s history could be a convenient distraction from the relatively recent genocide that Bosnia is still recovering from; it was something people could be proud of.

In addition to raising the country’s spirits, the pyramid theory also boosted the area’s economy. Tourists, including many from outside Bosnia, began flocking to the pyramidal hills, buying souvenirs (figure 2), taking tours of the area and even taking part in the excavations (Crosby 2017). The problem with all of this, other than feeding people claims not backed by science as the truth and benefiting monetarily from it, is that artifacts are being found by Osmanagich and his volunteer diggers. These artifacts, left behind by the various peoples that are known to have occupied the area, are having their contexts destroyed. Because of the untrained workforce and lack of documentation, Osmanagich’s attempts to prove his vision of the area’s history is erasing whatever the actual history is.


Additional Readings


Works Cited

Crosby, Alan

  2017   Whether Real or a Hoax, Bosnian ‘Pyramids’ Bringing Concrete Benefits to Town. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty., accessed December 1, 2018.

Keats, Jonathon

  2018   Revisiting the Bosnian Pyramid Scheme. Discover., accessed December 1, 2018.

Woodard, Colin

  2009   The Mystery of Bosnia’s Ancient Pyramids. Smithsonian., accessed December 1, 2018.



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Figure 2

The Two Sides of Coyote Assisted Border Crossing

Wikipedia defines Coyote as “a colloquial Mexican-Spanish term referring to the practice of people-smuggling across the U.S.-Mexican border”. In border crossing, the coyote assists a migrant in crossing for a fee, which is usually fairly costly, and the costs are continuing to increase (Campoy 2017). The coyote uses their knowledge of the border and security to make money off of the people hoping to cross and come to America.

Ramon, a coyote from Reynosa, Mexico, smuggles people from from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande to the U.S. side. He makes up to 4 trips across the border per week, and has been doing so for almost 6 years. Ramon charges between seven and ten thousand dollars for the whole trip (Bonmati 2016). This money is then partially transferred to the drug cartels, who have control of parts of the border and help the migrants across, as long as they are paid.

This graphic illustrates the increase in pricing of using coyotes to assist in crossing the border.


Some coyotes are known to scam migrants, promising them a full crossing and leaving them before the trip is over, or often overcharging them for a small part in the journey. Ramon noted that the worst coyotes are the ones who require a full payment upfront. He says these are the ones who are least likely to really take the migrant where they want to go. Instead, the coyotes who are not scam-artists have the migrants travel part by part. For Ramon, the job is to get the migrants across the border, but not necessarily help them mich before and after. Those parts are another coyote’s specialty. Coyotes who promise to take the migrants the full way are usually scams, according to Ramon.

Unlike many coyotes in the business, Ramon actually cares about the people he is helping. He promises them that he will try again if they fail on the first try, and he also says he will try again if they are deported once in the U.S. All he asks is that if they are caught, that his clients do not identify him by name.

A photograph of Ramon from behind, as he does not want to be identified.

Ramon’s contribution to human border smuggling is helping people who need to get to America. He treats his clients as people, preparing them psychologically and physically before the journey, and helping them get to their destination to the greatest extent that he can. This sort of coyote work is beneficial, and can prevent the huge numbers of deaths that occur while migrants are crossing the border. But, the coyotes who scam the migrants for money are only hindering the system, and making it more unsafe to try and cross. If a migrant is able to pay, having someone like Ramon to work with seems like the best and safest option for crossing the border.

Additional Content:

“Inside The Hidden World Of Immigrant Smuggling.” NPR, NPR, 19 Apr. 2012,

Noticias, Univision. “Animation: How a Coyote Smuggles Hundreds of Immigrants.” YouTube, YouTube, 19 Dec. 2016,


Sources Cited:

Bonmati, Damia S.

December 21, 2016   A day in the life of a coyote: smuggling migrants from Mexico to the United States. Univision News

Campoy, Ana and Christopher Groskopf

March 17, 2017   The Trump tax: Human smugglers at the US-Mexico border are jacking up prices.  Quartz


Images Cited:

Readdressing the Myth of Ghost Towns Through Contemporary Archeology

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries towns in the American West were rapidly created and subsequently abandoned. These towns have largely been ignored by historians and are just beginning to be studied by contemporary archeologists. By studying ghost towns, archeologists can tells us how and why this phenomenon occurred and provide valuable insight into what causes a settlement to fail. This is just one of many examples of how archeology is still relevant today.

The town of Frisco, Utah was studied by archeologists in 2008. At the site they find many artifacts including tobacco pipes and remains of a collapsed mine. Using these artifacts they were able to determine the Frisco was a moderately impoverished mining town that consisted mostly of men with few women and children.

In a recent archaeological study of ghost towns across Utah, Arizona and Nevada, researches excavated 104 sites. These archeologists were then able to compare and contrast the process of abandonment as well as aspects of the lifestyle in each of these towns through their respective assemblages, specifically, Newhouse and Frisco, two ghost towns in Utah. (Peyton 2012) At the Newhouse site, archeologists primarily found food storage containers and other domestic items including children’s toys and hairbrushes, indicating the presence of women. They also found remnants of a school building. In contrast at the Frisco site there were many tobacco pipes and alcohol containers and very few artifacts that indicated the presence of women. An overall site reconnaissance survey at Frisco showed evidence of mining and that the town was likely abandoned due to a collapsed mine while at the Newhouse site a complex irrigation system and dried wells allowed archaeologists to come to the conclusion that the town had been abandoned due to water shortage.

In contrast when archeologists excavated Newhouse Utah they found many domestic items including women hairbrushes and children’s toys indicating that there were many more families moving to this town. This helps us to rethink the stereotypical image of a frontier town.

Like many contemporary archeologies, the archeology of western ghost towns can be used to dispute common misconceptions about these abandoned places. For example, not all ghost towns were mining towns as another team of archaeologist found that only approximately 45% of the towns they identified as ghost towns centered around meaning as their primary economic function. (Hardesty 2010)  Others were religious settlements, railroad towns, military outposts and in the Pacific Northwest these towns are primarily associated with fishing and logging.

Another common misconception is that all ghost towns were abandoned because whatever they were mining ran out. (Ling 2013) Archeology has shown that the abandonment of the majority of ghost towns was a multicausal combination of social factors coupled with the overuse of natural resources, most notably water scarcity. (Peyton 2012) This collapse due to the exploitation of natural resources serves as a warning for us today and prevents us from blaming the failures of these towns on purely economic factors.

The archeology of ghost towns allows us to challenge many ideas we have about the west during this period of time such as the glorification of these mining towns as well as the idea that they simply popped up one day and then crashed the next. (Buckholtz 2015) Archeology has revealed that the decline of these towns is much more complex and took place over years. By studying this archeology of abandonment, archaeologist gain valuable insight to what challenges may turn our modern cities into the ghost towns of tomorrow.


Buckholtz, Sarah

   2015 Authentic Wild West Ghost Town: Bodie, CA. Two Lanes Blog. August 11

Hardesty, Donald L.

    2010 Mining Archeology in the American West. Digital Commons. University of Nebraska

    Press- Sample Books and Chapters, Spring.

Ling, Peter

   Ghost Towns of America. Geotab Blog

Peyton, Paige Margaret

    2012 The Archaeology of Abandonment: Ghost Towns of the American West. Leicester

    Research Archive: Home. School of Archaeology and Ancient History, November 1.

Image citations:

Bezzant, Bob

Newhouse, Beaver UT. Ghost Towns of America

Gabler, Michael

2018 Frisco: A Utah Ghost Town. Urban Ghosts. September 18

Additional Reading:

They Bought a Ghost Town for $1.4 Million. Now They Want to Revive It.


A Soviet Ghost Town in the Arctic Circle, Pyramiden Stands Alone


The Archaeology of Settlement Abandonment in Middle America