Summer SAVY 2019: Session 1, Day 3 – Archaeology 101 (Rising 3rd/4th)
This morning in Archaeology 101, students taught each other key archaeological concepts such as “stratigraphy” and “relative and absolute dating”. I’m so impressed with how much they have learned! Following our big excavation yesterday afternoon, students gathered in their groups to process the artifacts that they uncovered. Building on their knowledge of relative dating, students compared their artifacts from each stratigraphic layer, picked out patterns, and made conclusions. Data analysis is often the hardest part of archaeological work and the students did awesome! It was so fun watching them piece together the clues from the data and make interesting hypotheses.
In the afternoon, we took a walk to Vanderbilt’s bioarchaeological bone lab in Garland Hall. There students were able to learn a little about the work of physical anthropologists in gathering and analyzing fossils of our hominin ancestors. They were given the opportunity to see skeletal displays of various animals and hold casts of hominin skulls from our own ancestral line. They were asked to note which cranial features were similar and different from out own.
We also discussed what types of information burials and bones can tell an archaeologist about the past, including diet, diseases, injuries, and age, among others. Students paired up for our “age a skeleton” activity in which they learned how the sagittal sutures and teeth can tell us relatively the age of an individual. Each pair got to handle a cast of a human skull and determine their relative age. For the most part, everyone was very respectful of the lab, which I was very impressed with. Overall, it was a successful day doing lots of lab work and analysis!