Summer SAVY 2018: Session 6, Day 3 – Archaeology and Ancient Culture (Rising 3rd/4th)
I can’t believe we are over halfway through our week already! Today was a really fun day! We started by reviewing what we learned yesterday about Maya economic systems before we moved on to political systems. We also learned about some of the methods archaeologists use for dating artifacts and sites by practicing dating artifacts and modern items in the classroom. We had three stations: artifacts, electronics, and books. The students were tasked with using the scientific method to figure out the relative dates of each item by lining them up from oldest to youngest. Our students had to use evidence from these items to develop their own hypotheses about their ages, and they had a lot of fun with this activity! Many of the electronics, which included a VHS tape, an answering machine, a desk telephone, and a handheld radio, predate our students, so it was really fun hearing them guess what some of these items even were! After lunch, we took a field trip to the Mesoamerican Archaeology Lab where archaeologists are currently researching ancient Maya economies. After taking a tour of the lab and examining some of the real Maya artifacts that have been analyzed there, students had the chance to use scientific equipment to analyze several soil samples. Some of these samples came from the students’ backyards, and others came from Guatemala! In the samples from Guatemala, we found tiny pieces of pottery, chert, limestone, and obsidian! After we returned to the classroom, we brainstormed what Vanderbilt might look like in 500 years if it were abandoned by people today. Would the buildings still be here? Would there be more trees? What items would be left for archaeologists to interpret the function of this place?
Tomorrow, we will talk about the Maya calendar system, soil stratigraphy, and begin preparing for our mock excavations on Friday!
Here are a few discussion questions you can discuss with your students tonight:
1. Who made up 95% of the population at most Maya sites?
2. What role did this group play in the social, economic, and political system?
3. Why information about Maya social systems can an archaeologist learn from analyzing soil samples?
Thanks very much!
“Ancient Artifact” Photos
Field Trip Photos