Summer SAVY 2018: Session 4, Day 2 – Traveling Through Time (Rising 2nd)
Our archaeologists had a very successful but challenging day today! First, we reviewed everything we learned yesterday about the kind of work that archaeologists do. We had a lot of fun practicing using the scientific method by hypothesizing what mysterious materials were placed inside plastic eggs. Students had to observe, make hypotheses, and compare notes with their fellow archaeologists before opening their eggs to find out if their hypotheses were correct! Next, we reviewed the concept of systems, and we spent a little more time discussing Maya social systems before moving on to economic systems. Understanding and conceptualizing economic systems is a little more difficult than social systems, so we are going to keep working on this concept! It is really important for archaeologists to understand the economies of past civilizations in order to see the economic relationships between different social groups (including households, cities, and regions). We can also compare the successes and failures of past economic systems to our own to better understand how we might sustain or improve our current systems. To better understand how the Maya economic system worked, we learned about the Maya system for writing numbers! We watched a small clip of the PBS Nova video “Cracking the Maya Code” that discussed the importance of understanding Maya writing systems. I have copied the link to the full video below if you would like to watch the entire video with your archaeologist-in-training. While our system is a base 10 system, the Maya used a vigesimal base 20 system. Students practiced completing simple mathematical equations using the Maya system, and we will continue working on this in the morning before moving onto the Maya calendar system!
Here is the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASN0LdN1qNs
Also, if you want to review some of the concepts we learned today, here are a few discussion questions related to the video. Some of these we discussed today, but some of them are new.
1. Why is it so important for archaeologists to understand the Maya system of writing? Why is it important for modern Maya to understand the writing systems of their ancestors?
2. What information about Maya social, economic, and political systems might be gather from ancient Maya writings?
3. Why might it be problematic for only archaeologists to understand the “Maya Code?”
Observing the Mysterious Materials Inside Our Eggs