More than 50 Blinn College anthropology students recently put their classroom studies to work in the field at a 500-acre World War II prisoner-of-war historical site.
Cultural anthropology and physical anthropology students conducted an archeological dig at Camp Hearne, where more than 4,800 German, Italian and Japanese prisoners of war put on plays, built sculptures and played sports to pass the time from 1942 until the camp closed in 1946.
“We want the students to have the taste of a dig,” says Dr. Michelle Raisor, Social Sciences professor, who facilitated the trip along with Social Sciences professor Dr. Dawn Marshall. “They get to see the context of how it’s done, the right and wrong ways to go about it. They’re not digging for gold or dinosaur bones, but it’s an exciting learning experience.”
Phillip Vivar, a second-year student from Flower Mound studying to become a forensics investigator, analyzed animal bones Raiser had found while setting up at the site. Though the remains weren’t part of the history of Camp Hearne, they told a story of Blinn’s anthropology courses.
“It turns out the bones belonged to a pit bull involved in dog fighting,” Vivar says. “We knew that because its canines had been cut so it could wound other dogs without killing them.”
Vivar’s father, an anthropologist, joined him on the dig.
“It was cool for my dad to see me in action; to take that TV-fiction perspective out of what I want to do,” Vivar says. “He was very impressed with what I’ve learned, all thanks to Dr. Raisor’s classes.”
At least one dig is scheduled each Fall and Spring semester, depending upon weather conditions. Anthropology students will have the chance to attend another dig in the Fall semester at Camp Hearne’s Living History event in October.
“There was a map that showed where the barracks and other buildings stood when the land was clear,” says Forest King, a first-year student from College Station. “Now it’s covered in dense trees. Just to know that at some point it was something completely different, and to be able to study that is amazing.”
For information on the anthropology department and Blinn College, visit www.blinn.edu.
Story courtesy of Brooke Conrad.