Author Archives: Ashley Rojas

Final Project: The Mesoamerican Flood Myths Archive

As a classicist and an archaeologist, I love learning about different cultures and how there could be similarities between two cultures that never interacted with one another. The myths and legends of different cultures can sometimes be taken from older traditions or could be related without any connections that archaeology can determine. One example of this is the widespread flood myth. Many cultures all over the world and throughout history have had some form of flood myth. Within western civilization, there are a few myths that are well known and studied the most such as those of Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Sumerian, and Israeli cultures. As a Latina, however, I wanted to focus on non-western flood myths, more specifically those of Mesoamerica.

I decided to focus on Mesoamerica as a starting point as opposed to focusing on all of Central and South America just to get a sense of what information was already available and because I felt like I tend to not hear a lot of history about Central America compared to South America (just in a personal way). I have some roots in Central America, yet I know nothing about its history, and this was a way for me, as well, to learn a bit more about it.

With a lot of the readings that we had in this class as well as the other class I was taking this semester (Digital Pedagogy 2), there were discussions of lack of ownership that peoples of the Global South had for their own content such as OERs or digital archives (thinking back to the Danish West Indies archive from this class). Much of the content within the OERs or digital archives would be from the Global North or referencing scholarship from the Global North. To try to combat this cycle of learning, I wanted to focus on cultures from the Global South and hope that this project/platform helps to bring other cultures into the mainstream scholarship world.

My project will be a digital archive that will pull together flood myths from across Mesoamerica and artifacts from those cultures that may relate to the flood myths. The items and stories will be displayed as an interactive map and timeline visualization that will show where and when these flood myths appeared. In the future, I hope to partner with museums and culture centers in Mesoamerica to allow for individuals to provide their own flood myths they may have heard (since many of the stories are still oral history) and continue to add artifacts or stories that may not be digitized yet.

Reflecting on the Semester Readings

When reading Capturing History, 280 Characters at a Time, there were a few questions that came up when discussing the use of tweets. One thing that I had wondered about, when they discussed the Black Lives Matter movement that arose after the shooting of Michael Brown, was if the tweets that they were collecting were filtered? I know that there are times where people post insensitive tweets about certain events as well as posting “memes” or other forms of expression. I wonder if any of these were included and, if not, who decides what should or shouldn’t be included? What bias did that bring into the records that were kept?

In addition to this, the author discusses the use of tweets and how “even if the tweets were shared in a public forum, many users would not anticipate that their tweets could be saved for all posterity.” When I read this, I felt confused because growing up I remember always being told “be careful what you put online”, “it’ll be there forever”, “it can cost you a job in the future”, etc. Why is it that tweets, in this way, has become an issue when they are using something that has been posted in public? I would understand if the profile of that person were set to private or only for friends to view, but not if it were public.

Also, when reading Capturing History, 280 Characters at a Time and Crowdsourcing Traumatic History: Understanding the Historial Archive, I started thinking about the Manchester Together Archive. This archive was created after the Manchester Arena in England was attacked by a bomber in May 2017. According to the website, “over 10,000 objects were left by members of the public in spontaneous memorials” all over the city. The archive was established as organizations collected the items to preserve and document them and the even that had occurred. The digital archive is still under construction but one thing that I thought would be interesting would be to see how people coped with the event in their own ways.

Of course, the act of leaving items as a memorial is a form of coping, but that wasn’t the only thing that came out of the event. During the event, social media had a large role in spreading the news of the bombing as well as determining what happened. After the event, there were also performances that were dedicated to the victims as well as songs created by Ariana Grande (since people were leaving her concert at the time of the bombing). The songs she created were her way of trying to cope with the situation as well as pay tribute to those that died or were injured. It would be interesting to see how much digital culture ends up being included in the archive.

In Crowdsourcing Traumatic History: Understanding the Historial Archive, they also discuss how “’historial’ archives aim to collect material in real time and focus on the ephemera of an event rather than on more authoritative, mediated artifacts.” I liked this focus because it allows the public to “curate” their own archive instead of the archive being put together by some with an agenda. This is not to say that there would not be any biases with this approach but, since it is coming from the populate that is affected, it would decrease the percentage of biases that are included.

Across many of the readings, it has been noted that archives should be in the hands of those that the items represent. This way, the people can represent themselves as opposed to having an outside entity controlling their representation. This is most evident in the Archival encounters: rethinking access and care in digital colonial archives reading which discusses the archive of the US Virgin Islands (USVI) that was put together by Denmark as a way to celebrate the former Danish West Indies. At one point in the reading, Daniela Agostinho states, “The goal was to transfer inactive government records as well as remaining Danish records, to the safekeeping of the National Archives, since the USVI had neither the facilities nor the staff to take care of them.” My first thought was, if the USVI were to create a facility to house the information and find a way to maintain them, would it even be allowed to do so? This is the same thing that happened to the Greece when they asked for the Elgin Marbles back from the British Museum. The British Museum indicated that Greece did not have the proper location to store or display the marbles, and so the Acropolis Museum was built, but the marbles have yet to be returned.

The Digital Acropolis Museum

The Digital Acropolis Museum Image

The Digital Acropolis Museum is a new, ongoing project to digitize the Acropolis Museum’s collections as well as create digital activities that showcase the museum’s items. The Acropolis Museum itself began in order to provide a safe space to house and display Greece’s antiquities within its own country. This was mostly in response to the British Museum’s current possession of marbles from the Parthenon.

As an extension of the Acropolis Museum’s creation, the Digital Museum aims to provide access to the museum’s objects via its website, allow for the use of “digital material” both in the museum itself and online to expand upon the visitor’s experience, and to digitally preserve the museum’s cultural objects.

The audience for this project is anyone who is visits the Acropolis Museum (either in person or online). There is a dedicated section for children as well that is called Acropolis Museum Kids and has its own website separate from the museum’s main website.

There is an option on the website to take a virtual tour through the museum. This virtual tour is done in partnership with Google Arts & Culture to allow you to “walk” through the museum and look at the items on display. They have also created a database to store the metadata of each item, digitization of objects, photographing, 3D scanning and the development of multimedia applications that allow for educational experiences online.

One would need a lot of funding to create a project that includes all aspects of this website/archive. The Acropolis Museum has done a lot in the fairly few years it has been established to try to have their collections openly available and accessible to visitors online. Between the virtual tours, applications and the collections database, there is so much content available for learning and more to come (according to their website).