Guest post, written May 14, 2018. Tomorrow is the day, the first day of Anthropology 367: Heritage and Historical Archaeology field course. I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. For me, it’s the same sort of nervous excitement that occurred when I “graduated” elementary school and moved to high school; it’s all new teachers, all new material to navigate and lots of new people to interact with. I’m a kinesiology major diving into the world of anthropology, something I find very interesting, but of course is not my area of expertise. However, I’ve been doing some reading and it’s starting me on my path (web?) of questions.

It was only yesterday, myself and my partner were talking about the movie ‘Pet Cemetery’ and the very thought of a cemetery brings tingles to the spine and create visions of a spooky place. Friends and coworkers I’ve told about the course give similar confused looks with a long, drawn-out “interessstting”. So where does this reaction come from? Is it possible that media has such an important role in our lives that it has the ability to shift cultural and societal norms? In the past, people would visit and picnic in cemeteries but now such activities are rare. I think there has been a wrongful stigma created around cemeteries that lead us to fear them as opposed to embrace them in what they have to offer.

Group of picnic-goers from the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Atlas Obscura.
Jewish cemetery grounds with some of the monuments on a beautiful May afternoon.

I went to check out the Jewish cemetery today to see where I would be working for the next few weeks and think about what this course will be like. What I’m looking forward most with ANTH 367 is to overcome that stigma that comes with cemeteries. I’m also excited to be helping with the important task of preservation of not only the cemeteries and monuments within, but also the history behind the people in the cemetery. I’m feeling grateful that I will be a small part of the group that will be taking on the mapping, restoration, and recreation of 3D images of the cemetery and its monuments.