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The American Museum of Natural History: Anthropology The American Museum of Natural History has many exhibits thatdemonstrate many aspects of anthropology. The Museum is located on Central ParkWest between W81st and W77nd streets. The museum is an excellent place to openoneself to many new ideas and cultures. When looking through the museum theexhibits that are anthropological could enhance ones understanding of a culture.The museum is very big and a lot of time is needed to get the most out of it.The following exhibits that demonstrate many aspects of anthropology are locatedon the first, second and third floors. The first floor has American NorthwestCoast Peoples, Eskimos, Human Biology and Evolution. The second floor hadAfrican Peoples, Asian Peoples, Mexico and Central American Peoples, and SouthAmerican Peoples. Finally, the third floor had Primates, North American EasternWoodlands And Plains Peoples, and Pacific Peoples.
The museum also includedmany other interesting exhibits that did not have to do with anthropology likethe Dinosaur Hall. All these exhibits in the museum had detailed information oneach exhibit whether it was a big sculpture or a little skeleton. There wasalso films that could have been seen for a small price, but if one has the timeit is very educational and worth seeing. In the hall of Asian Peoples the most intriguing exhibits was theChinese Wedding. It was very interesting to see how a different culture getsmarried. In this wedding the Chinese bride sits in this beautiful bridal chairfrom the groom's family that had carried her from her home.
The bride now saysher good-byes to her own family because in the Chinese culture she is now partof the grooms family. ' Her impressive dowery, displayed by the procession onthe road , gives prestige to her family as the beauty of the bridal chair givesprestige to the groom's.' Prestige and honor are very important to the Chineseculture and during an important event such as a wedding it is not unusual toflaunt their prestige. To properly perform the dowry and the chair is a must.In tradition Chinese culture the bride must be covered by a veil and the groomnever had seen her before he had removed the veil himself when she had arrivedat his family's home. In picture #1 this shows the background of a village in Shantung, innortheastern China. In this province is where Confucius was born and livedwhich also had a great amount of ancient tradition. ' The early 20th centurywedding chair, of wood, kingfisher feathers, copper wire, gilt and glass wasprobably made in southern China. The way the Chinese get married is veryunusual to our western culture.
This exhibit expresses to me that people arevery different all over the world and their is much to explore about othercultures even an event such as a wedding. One other exhibit seen in the Asian Peoples were an exhibit about dance.It was called the personality in Dance. The junkai people perform a specialdance called the whirling dance. Dance in these peoples culture express a lotof different things. It evokes many moods, inspiration of belief, the hope andenergy of young people, and the power of fear that could kill you. Society isvery important to these people.
Dance also by itself can express the valuesthat a society should have that keep it binded together. One educational exhibit is the Human Biology and Evolution Hall. Thisexhibit introduces the common biology of humans, and how we evolutionized. Thebiology of the humans were shown though holographic pictures. These pictures didshow the whole body including the muscles and the bones. The evolution part ofthis exhibit was very interesting.
' We humans often think of ourselvess as theculmination of a steady history of a evolutonary improvement. But this idea iswrong, for evolution is neither goal-oriented nor merely a matter of speciesgradual improving their adaptation to their environments. ' This is an excelentquote from the evolution exhibit. This quote explains in a simplistic idea onhow humans did evolutionize. Evolution is a long process that can happen formany reasons. One way humans became the way they did was from a common idea ofnatural selection.
The traits that were needed to survive would expressthemselves more and more over time. This would happen because whoever did nothave these traits probably could not have survived and died. This could happenfor many reasons but the most likely would be a change in surroundings orenvironment. The evolutionary trends of the humanbeing toward being better isbrain and body size, bipendalism, and their face and teeth. Much of the humanability to make and use tools and other objects stems from the large size andcomplexity of the human brain. Most modern humans have a braincase volumebetween 1300 and 1500cc. In the course of human evolution the brain size hasmore than tripled.
Bipedalism or two-legged walking seems to be the ealiesthuman characteristic to evolve. This form of locomotion led to the mordernhuman skeletal parts such as the lower spinal column, pelvis, and legs. Theface and jaws of humans has decreased in size over time. The teeth had alsodecreased in size. This exhibit was a very good exhibit because it could teach us a lotabout ourselves and where we came from. It explained our trends toward what weare now and why we went in that direction. Evolution is a complicated processthat is hard to understand. This is why this exhibit needed to have a lot ofsimple information for someone that have never lerned about human evolutionbefore.
One of the most interesting exhibits was the on of the Aztec stone ofthe sun. Aztecs our very popular for their monuments and stone sculptures.Their most popular monument is this stone of the sun known as the calender stone.It includes allthe elements of a calendrical system, but it is not a calender.All the symbols on this calender stone relate to the sun and accent. It alsoexpains the role of the sun in the aztecs belief and culture. The aztec preformmany rituals that have been drawn on the stone. In the museum they colored inparts of the stone to explain what the deseigns meant. Look at the picture inthe back to fully understand this. The orange part of the stone, which is theface in the middle, is the sun god ( Tonatiuh ).
The yellow orange, whichsurrounds the sun god, is cosmogonic myths of the Aztecs. The blue, which isjust outside the myths, is emblems referring to the four cardinal directions.The pink, which is outside the cardinal directions, is the 20 day signs of the260 day ritual calender. The yellow, which is located after the ritaul calender,is the disc of the sun. The red, which is the end of the stone, is 2 fireserpents. The green, the last design on the stone, is the date ' 13 need 'which is supposed to be the birth of the sun. This stone expresses the greatbeliefs the aztecs had for the sun.
They were a people of great design andexpression for their culture. Also in the same exhibit of the aztec stone was the Colossal Olmer Head.This looked like a big head. It was found at the site of San Lorenza. It wasthe largest and most outstanding sculpture of the great stone heads from theolmer peoples. This head weighed 20 tons carved in a typical olmer style. This hall itself included a lot of out standing sculptures. Thesepeople in this hall seemed to like building and sculpturing things.
They lookedlike they spent years on making these sculptures. These sculptures are veryremarkable and I am very impressed of the talent these people had. Inside the exhibit of the South American Peoples had a couple ofinteresting little things. It showed a thing of warfare of the people in thatarea. The only thing that I found intering about this was it looked like theguy had a hamburger in his mouth. This exhibit itself was probably the worstexhibit.
If one of the most interesting things was a guy with a hamburger inhis mouth the exhibit could not have been very education or even eye catching.It was very boring and I do not think I spent more then ten minutes in it. Theonly thing I stared at was a tomb they had of one special person and a few otherpeople. There was not a lot of interesting new cultural ideas in this hall andbecause I found this very boring and not educational it had to be as a hall theworst one in the museum. Some of the other exhbits that I have failed to talk about also had fewinteresting factural ideas in them. The one exhibit I also felt was horriblewas the eskimos. It was closed the day I went to the museum and I was realylooking foward to seeing the Eskimo exhibit. My favorite hall was the one of the Pacific Peoples. This the hall thatI have my picture with my girl friend next to a beautiful stone sculpture.
Thislarge stone sculpture was located on easter island. More than 250 complete andpartial sculptures still remain on this small isolated island. Some of thefigures are more than 30 feet high and weigh 20 tons. These people evenimpressed me more in a whole then the aztec's and others in that hall that madenice sculptures also. These people cut them from lava and transported from thequarry near the middle of the island. The Marquesas are where the firstsettlers that came to easter island are beleived to come from.
Little are knownabout the heads and figures made by people. I think this is very interestingand would want to find out more about these peoples and their sculptures. Thishall was also my favorite because I was always interested in seeing thebeautiful pacific. So seeing exhibits with skeletons in them excited me in a waythat I was happy we had saved this exhibit for last. The museum in an overall view gave me a better understanding toanthopology as a whole. Each exhibit had detailed facts about the culture andthe people.
For Example, we have learned about the human evolution in the class,but the museum as you can see had good exhibits showing the evolution change inhumans in great detail. Another example could be the skeletal bones I saw atthe museum. After seeing the bones at the museum I could easily relate them tothe story in the Phillip Whitten and David E. K. Hunter anthropology book of NoBones Unturned. This had gave me a better grasp at what they were looking at.It had also given me more interest to how they looked at the bones and whattechniques they used..
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