Inocente and Archaeology

Living a nomadic lifestyle, means things get left behind when one cannot carry things from place to place. In Inocente’s case, she leaves her art as her legacy. Looking at homelessness from an archaeological view and analyzing the things that these people  leave behind, or their material culture, can show a lot about the way that homeless people live and survive without permeant homes. Inocente and her family are forced to move from place to place and she recalls that she does not remember living in a place longer than three months at a time. Her, her mother, and her two brothers are forced to live, eat, and sleep together in a small room, giving them not a lot of opportunity to bring tons of things with them as they move. It is also important to limit the amount due to the fact that the small family has to carry everything they own when they move as they cannot afford to hire movers or anything similar. This limitation causes them to own things that can be carried on their bodies and things that can fit in carry-able bags.

In class, we talked about what we might bring with us if there was a fire in our building because this would show the things that were most important to us and our survival. I think looking from this perspective towards Inocente can show the things that are most important to her. The majority of the video speaks of her art and her ability to paint her dreams in her pieces, using bright colors. She even paints her face in a new and exciting way each day to express her feelings in ways she cannot do as a shy girl in her class. Just speculating, I think due to the video, if her room caught on fire, if she could save a few things, I think they would be her art and makeup supplies.

Picture showing the colorful and creative designs Inocente uses in her make-up.

Not a lot is said about her immigrant status, except for the brief mention that she is undocumented and that her father was deported. This aspect is crucial in her life because without her father, who used to beat her and her mother (probably a good thing he was deported), her family has almost no means to provide for themselves. The mother is undocumented as well, which means that she cannot get a significant enough job to pay for a steady home for her three children. Through archaeology, I’m guessing, one could look at the ways in which their family is connected to their Mexican past by seeing if one of the things that they bring with them relates to this culture.

This also led me to think of art as archaeology. I’m wondering if there are certain ways that one can study a person by the things they paint and the methods they use. I’m sure that would be an interesting way to look at Inocente’s life from her paintings to examine her feelings and possibly the events in her life.

Inocente expressing her passion for art by painting  this masterpiece called "Masters of Disguise"

Inocente expressing her feelings and dreams through her colorful art

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Image 2:

Further reading:

Movie: Inocente: Homeless. Creative. Unstoppable.

Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, Directors and Producers


Not Just History at Risk


This week we explored the destruction of artifacts central to different cultures at the hands of war, as well as the archaeology of warfare. What better way to cut down an enemy than to extinguish what represents their past? One of our readings stated, “The relevance of the past to the present is evident in many facets of daily life…The past is a means through which identities–whether ethnic, national, religious, or other–can be formed and reinforced in the present.”

We looked at many examples that spanned from Iraq, India to Syria. I wanted to learn more into the specifics about Syria and found an article that examined the specific treasures that are threatened by conflict in this area, as well as the efforts to combat this large destruction in Syria.

The Aleppo castle where pro-government forces are based

The Aleppo castle where pro-government forces are based

The so-called most important artifacts to go missing, the bronze statue, dated back 2,000 years, which was put on Interpol’s ‘Most Wanted’ list, as well as a marble artifact stolen from a museum. Many archaeological sites have also been a target. Looting and illegal excavations have increased dramatically during this time of conflict. Buildings and markets have also been subject to harm. Specifically, seven old markets in Aleppo were practically destroyed by a large fire. Army shelling has been seen to damage ancient homes. Syria treasures have become a battleground for Middle Eastern conflict. The head of Syria’s iniquities and museums, Maamoun Abdulkarim, noted this while talking about looters, “If they reach these places then my conviction is that Syria would no longer exist…It would signal the end of the end…Syria as we know it would then be over.”


Aleppo markets

As a result of this looming truth, many actions have been taken to protect Syria’s treasures. All Syrian museums were stripped of all artifacts, besides ones that were too troublesome to move out. Abdulkarim said that, “They are in effect empty halls…” They were sent to specialist warehouses to prevent any danger. UNESCO, the cultural UN body, shared their concern about the Six World Heritage Sites (places listed as having special cultural or physical significance) and reached out to help protect ancient treasures of Syria. They are even helping tracking down specific artifacts such as eighteen mosaic panels smuggled to Lebanon.

Some particularly inspiring examples are the acts of citizens to protect artifacts. Some examples of this are the work of a local community in the town of Maarat al-Noman to ensure famous mosaic portraits were kept safe as well as an instance in Hama where neighborhood youths defended their local museum’s Roman and Byzantine statues until they were safe from looters. Some looting has also simply ceased due to the lack of success in finding goods.

“God forbid, then we are approaching the start of the tragic demolition of our past and future.”


UN Cultural Body- UNESCO


Further Reading:

Amid the devastation and danger of civil war, Syrian archaeologists and activists are risking their lives in the battle against looting:

Syria, graced with thousands of historic sites, is seeing its cultural heritage vandalized  looted and destroyed by war – but volunteers are doing what they can to document the damage and save the country’s cultural identity from obliteration (as seen through photographs):


Links to photographs:

Photograph one, Aleppo:

Photograph two, markets:

Photograph three, UNESCO:



Al-Khalidi, Suleiman. “Syrian Violence Threatens Ancient Treasures.” Reuters. February 20, 2013. Accessed November 24, 2014.

Bernbeck, Reinhard, and Susan Pollock. “Ayodhya, Archaeology, and Identity.” JSTOR. January 1, 1996. Accessed November 24, 2014.



Hair Extensions Not so Newly Trendy

Recently, a team of archaeologists in Armana, Egypt have been working full force on an excavation labeled the “Armana Project.” At this site, archaeologists have been working in cooperation with the Egyptian government to explore this ancient city in order to study, record and analyze the history of the traditional life here. Through this work, they are hoping to promote greater knowledge about the region and traditional life here, as well as to preserve the remains of this ancient city.

Archaeologist Joanda Bos, a leading figure in this excavation, has played a large role in the analysis of an Armana cemetery, a work in progress since 2006. She found some interested results. They are investigating all aspects of the city through the remains, including the popularity of different hairstyles. Out of the one-hundred skulls excavated, twenty-eight had traces of hair. This find is an unusual one for skulls that have been traced back over three-thousand years. One woman in particular struck Bos. A not mummified female, wrote Bos, had a “very complex coiffure with approximately seventy extensions fastened in different layers and heights on the head.”


Woman found with approximately 70 extensions fastened to head- probably styled after death

Although this particular complex hairstyle was most likely styled after the female’s death, Bos believes that similar styling, including the use of hair extensions, was a common part of Armanian life.

There were various different hairstyles found on the skulls. There were remains found with hair intact that ranged “from very curly black to middle brown straight; which was often styled in rings or coils around the ears.” This range indicates the large spectrum of popular hairstyles in Armana during this time, as well as might hint to a certain degree of ethnic variation. It was also found that some extensions were made up of more than one color, showing that multiple people may have donated hair in order to make up one extension.


Skull found with hair extensions made up of braids

It was also analyzed that these ancient Armana citizens were found of braids as many of the skulls had hairstyles with intricate braiding styles. These braids were found to be small in size, made up of three separate strands that were approximately .5 cm wide.

Another interesting find was that Armana people preferred shorter hair, averaging 7 inches (a length just ending before the shoulders). This could have suggested something about their work or styles at the time. Important to note, also, is the way this hair was preserved. It was found that fat was used to keep the hair in place after death, comparable to modern hair spray. Whether or not the fat is from animals is uncertain, however.

As archaeologists in this project analyze their results from this site, they are able to look more closely into the daily lives of these ancient people in order to better their knowledge about the way that these Armana citizens lived their lives.


More reading:


Jarus, Owens. Ancient Egyptian Woman with 70 Hair Extensions Discovered. N.p., n.d. Web. <>

2. Renfrew, Colin, and Paul G. Bahn. Archaeology essentials: theories, methods, and practice. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Thames & Hudson, 20102010.

Picture links:



3: www.