49: Anthro Field Trip: La Brea

1 05 2008

by Alecia Barella

A few weeks past, the Anthropology Club rose early and started out for the legendary La Brea Tar Pits. Regardless if it was their first time or not, all were excited to see La Brea because visiting the Page Museum is more than a trip to Los Angeles. Visiting La Brea is a trip back thousands of years to the Los Angeles Basin during the Ice Age period.

At the museum, club members were able to observe remnants of extinct mammals and vegetation from the Pleistocene Epoch. Standing next to these fossil displays, members were really able to grasp the magnitude of size and scale of what life was like 10-40,000 years ago. It was easy to feel a bit insignificant when one stood beneath a towering Columbian mammoth or near the deadly jaws of a saber-toothed cat.

Entrapment is still occurring at La Brea tar pits to this day and excavation is a continual project. Pit 91 is the famous dig site at Rancho La Brea and can be viewed by the public. After inspecting the pit, club members joining Dr. Pryor in the archaeological dig this summer felt a sense of gratitude, that no matter how dusty the dig may be…at least it will never include tar.

In lieu of the Getty Center, the club paid a visit to the Fowler Museum located on UCLA’s campus. The current exhibit featured global arts and cultures, highlighting several regions: Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas. It was really rewarding to witness the different ways humankind celebrates life and their cultural history.

It is one thing to read about cultures in textbooks, it is another thing to behold their works of art. Club members got to experience a tangible connection with these cultures that couldn’t be achieved by reading alone.

The Fowler Museum was simultaneously hosting the international exhibit: Make Art/Stop AIDS. The exhibition is aimed at raising awareness and activism and features more than 60 contemporary works by artists from 5 countries. Some pieces were hauntingly sad, while others offered a vision of hope, but all of them carried the message that the AIDS crisis is far from over and demands more global attention.

Looking back, all members would agree the trip was a pleasant and successful adventure. From the excavated remains of La Brea to the existing issue of the AIDS epidemic, members were able to connect with the world of the past and today.

To see photos from the trip go to the Making Anthropology Public Picasa site.