Summer SAVY 2017, Session 5/Day 2- Archaeological Adventures (Rising 2nd/3rd)
Our budding archaeologists had another great morning! Today, we covered two important lessons: dating in archaeology and preservation. First, we discussed the different methods archaeologists use to identify how old artifacts are. Students put this knowledge to practice by first lining themselves up by order of their ages. This involved cooperation from every member of the class, and we discovered that FOUR members of the class have the same birthday! Next, the students were divided into two teams: one team had to try to put a stack of archaeology books in order from oldest to newest based solely on the appearance of the outside of the books. I was pleasantly surprised that the students used their sense of smell to try to date the books, also! The other team completed the same task, but with DVD boxes. Next, we talked about the importance of understanding how different materials preserve through time and why some objects preserve in the archaeological record while others do not. This is one of the most critical aspects of the archaeologist’s toolkit! We discussed the difference between organic and inorganic objects and how this affects preservation. Our final activity involved students envisioning their bedrooms at home as future archaeological sites. What objects would remain intact for future archaeologists to study hundreds of years from now? Like real-life archaeology, how might this skew their interpretation of the function of the room and of the person (or people) who lived there? While our archaeological sites were imaginary, these activities allowed the students to experience many of most common and most challenging questions archaeologists face when studying real archaeological sites. It also stresed that artifacts recovered at archaeological sites are usually only a small portion of the materials that were originally used by the people who lived and/or worked at the site. As such, archaeologists only have a small piece of the puzzle to work with, and it is important to use the scientific method to fill in the gaps!