this activity, you'll create a delicate archeological find
that will be uncovered by a classmate. In order to preserve
the elements of this find, the "unearthing" procedure must
be precise, deliberate, and methodical. The exact location
and position of every dig artifact must be recorded to maintain
the coherency of the find.
activity page will offer:
An introduction to difficulties in archeological excavation
- Colored markers
- Clean sand
- Paint brush
- Use markers to color about one dozen wooden toothpicks.
Each toothpick should have distinct markings.
- Place a layer of sand in the bottom of a bowl.
- Position one of the toothpicks anywhere on the sand surface.
Record its placement on a paper sketch of the site.
- Use a spoon to carefully add additional sand so that the
object becomes buried.
- Position a second toothpick so that it overlaps the first
artifact. Again record the exact position of this toothpick
on your sketch. Use a spoon to cover it with sand.
- Continue adding sand and toothpicks until all the artifacts
have been placed and buried.
- Add an additional layer of sand so that the placement
of the artifacts cannot be inferred by the surface appearance
of the sand.
2 - Uncovering
- Exchange the "archeological site" you created with a
site created by another student.
- On your new site, use your spoon and paintbrush to carefully
uncover the buried artifacts.
- Record the exact location of each object as it is unearthed.
- Try not to disturb the sand or any of the hidden objects
as you excavate these finds. Continue removing the artifacts
until the site has been fully excavated.
- When you are finished, compare your drawing of the unearthed
site with the drawing of the site owner.
- Did you uncover the find exactly the way it was originally
laid down? Explain.
- What factors affected the success of your archeological
- How might the type of soil affect your success in uncovering
Movement in Archeology
Choreograph a movement piece that communicates
the history of an ancient artifact. The piece should begin
with the artifact's manufacture and include the burial, discovery
and unearthing of the find. Include movements that suggest
the work of the team of archeologist who find, document, and
remove the artifacts.
The principle of superposition involves the relative positions
of objects as they relate to the sequence of their burial.
Objects that were buried first occupy a position at the bottom
of the stack. Objects that were buried more recently are found
at the top of the stack. Use this principle to create a top
-to-bottom stack that illustrates the most likely sequence
of the following objects, if they were uncovered in the same
column of sediment:
Model T Ford
Not all mummification is the result of human burial practices.
There are many natural ways that a body may become mummified.
In the segment "Time Travelers"
the Chinese mummies were preserved due to the dry, salty climate,
and also because of a type of embalming process used on the
bodies after death. Use the web to uncover more information
about natural mummies such as those found in bogs or in deserts.
Compare and contrast the different types of mummies. In our
society, embalming is a way to preserve the physical appearance
of the dead. How is this common Western practice similar to
mummification? How is it different?
Archaeology of a Prehistoric Coastal Hamlet
a prehistoric settlement in Florida - including archeological
Wide Web Archaeology on the Internet
A complete middle school web unit on archeology and its methodology
Archeology: A Humanistic Science
An online journal that includes over a dozen articles on forensic
activities in this guide were contributed by Michael DiSpezio,
a Massachusetts-based science writer and author of "Critical
Thinking Puzzles" and "Awesome Experiments in Light & Sound"
(Sterling Publishing Co., NY).
Academic Advisors for this Guide:
Corrine Lowen, Science Department, Wayland Public Schools,
Suzanne Panico, Science Department, Fenway High School, Boston,
Anne E. Jones, Science Department, Wayland Middle School,