UTPA Report: Archaeology dig

UTPA Report: Archaeology dig
Friday, October 25, 2013 - 12:19pm

If you drive by Schunior and Hoehn (hone) roads in Edinburg you might catch a glance of UTPA students digging meticulously through a field. As Roxanne Lerma shows us, they’re getting a hands-on glimpse of our region's rich history.

A team of UTPA instructors is digging up new ways to teach history and culture to UT-Pan American students, Dr. Russell Skowronek/Archeologist & UTPA Professor, "The larger goal of this class is to take a subset of our UTPA students and help them understand the story of their community and what our community developed from and how it is where it is today.”

Dr. Skowronek decided to challenge his students to become keepers of local history with an interdisciplinary class. Jenarae Alaniz says the great outdoors is now her classroom.

Jenarae Alaniz, UTPA Anthropology Student, “I think it’s important that we really know the culture of where we come from. I’m born and raised in the Valley so I jumped at the opportunity to do this and not any other class is going to offer you hands on experience.”

Dr. Skowronek and his team selected the Atwood Farms in North Edinburg as the site of their archaeological dig. Students explore every facet of the property--- Excavating for the geological, biological and archaeological make-up of the farm that’s been around since the 1920’s.

Dr. Russell Skowronek /Anthropology & History Professor, “We are doing subsurface testing of the soil to see its more ancient history in the last 10,000 years or a little longer and our archaeological study it to see what evidence we can find of people having been on this property long before the Atwoods showed up a hundred years ago.”

The property owners have already uncovered an arrowhead dating back 6 to 8 thousand years. Andrew Evins says watching the students’ plot his grandparent’s land is surreal,  “To us it’s like a little slice of heaven but to have a bunch of people that are interested in the history of my family and the history of this property to me that’s an honor.”

The class is a special mix of history, geology, and biology all rolled into one exciting outdoor adventure, Jenarae, “And I’m an anthropology student so all I know is culture and people this gives me the ability to go out and like right now we are digging and looking at sand and clay and trying to figure it out. Never in my wildest dreams would I have done that.”

With so little undeveloped land left in the Valley, Jim Evins who’s lived on the property for 45 years is pleased students are unearthing the region’s history, “I love it I think it’s wonderful because they don’t realize what has transpired here in south Texas when I was a child this was an agricultural place period.”

Students, becoming stewards of the past. Reporting for UTPA & Newscenter 23, I’m Roxanne Lerma.

UTPA students will use their field work data for an end of semester research project documenting the history of the Atwood property.

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