Friday, July 19, 2013

Archaeology Quest 1

We had a great first week of Archaeology Camp! We started the week off talking about the role of archaeology, and what an archaeologist does. We had an "introductory experience," where we made model cross-sections of an archaeological site using clay, beads and coins. The clay represented the layers of Earth and the coins and beads represented artifacts buried underneath the ground. We explained that the deeper something is buried, the older it is. Then we did a mapping activity in which we mapped a simulated archaeological dig site using a grid to help document where each artifact was found. We found artifacts like pot sherds, arrowheads and shells.
Gridding and mapping the archaeology dig site

Making model cross sections

On Tuesday, we did a Roman Soldiers activity at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. We were shown what kind of weapons soldiers used, what they had to wear, and what their living conditions were like. Then we took a tour of the galleries and saw some cool Roman artifacts, like coins and some frescoes from Pompeii! Then we sat down for a little bit to decorate some roman shields that we got to take home!
Sitting among the Pompeii paintings

Wednesday was back at the Museum of Natural history. We got to talk to two U of M Archaeologists who work in our Museum. Lisa studies pottery from Arizona, and showed us how we can figure out how big a pot is, what it was used for, and what kind of people used it. We looked at things like the composition of the clay, the designs and the colors used to decorate it. We even got to use a cool map to help us figure out how big the rim of each pot was based on the small sherds we had. We also talked to Alice, who showed us all sorts of tools. We saw arrowheads, stone tools, tools made out of bone, and even some tools made out of shell. They were used for everything from hunting, to scraping hide off an animal, to grinding corn to make flour!
Then, using the pottery advice we got from Lisa, we painted our own pots just like ancient civilizations did- using symbols and pictures to tell the story of their people. We used symbols and pictures from today to represent our culture.
Looking at arrowheads and other tools

Thinking about how big a pot might have been based on a single sherd we have

Measuring bowls to compare to our pots

Looking at Greek pottery designs

Painting our own pots

On Thursday, we returned to the Kelsey Museum for an Archaeology Dig activity. We got to dig up cool artifacts from make-shift dig sites using shovels and other tools. Then we had to document our artifacts and get them identified by Todd, our guide for the day. We found necklaces and small pots and spinning tops and even a gold mask! Then Todd took us through the galleries again to look at some more artifacts. We saw some cuneiform tablets, some tools that the Romans used for bathing, and some artifacts that were found in old tombs.

Digging up artifacts at the Kelsey Museum

We found something!

Getting our objects identified

A stratigraphic puzzle

We ended our week with a planetarium show about the constellations and how they are used to tell stories, just like archaeologists use the artifacts they find to tell stories about ancient civilizations. Then we did an artifact analysis, pretending to be people in the future who are looking at artifacts from today. We came up with some pretty crazy explanations for some of the objects, which ranged from the top half of a piggy bank, to a container lid, to a flower-shaped paper-clip. The campers had to use their imaginations to figure out what these objects could tell us about a society. We also did an activity using the pots we painted on Wednesday. After a natural catastrophe, the pots were shattered, and the campers had to piece them back together. Campers got bags with multiple shattered pots in them, just like they would be found at a dig site, and had to figure out which pieces went together.

Piecing together the pot sherds

Analyzing modern objects

It was very hot but very fun week! We can't wait for more archaeology adventures next week!

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