This activity page will offer:
experience in constructing models of sub-floor pits
to model the work of archeologists in uncovering artifacts
in identifying and recording positions of buried artifacts
plastic bin (or shoe box)
that is not dry or crumbly that can be compacted easily
(plastic charms, coins, toothpicks, etc.)
- Work in teams of two. Prepare your archeological site by filling
a plastic bin four inches (10 cm) deep with soil.
- Pat down the soil to make a flat, level surface.
- Select a location for your sub floor pit and excavate a rectangular
pit roughly the size of a deck of playing cards - roughly 4 by
3 inches (10 by 7.5 cm) Pat the walls and bottom of the pit to
form a firm impression in the soil.
- On a sheet of graph paper, draw a map of the entire soil surface.
Number the grid lines and use them as a coordinate system to record
locations on your map. Include a sketch of your pit's location
on the map.
- Scatter several artifacts in the pit. Record their exact location
on your sketch. Continue filling the pit as you scatter several
additional items in the storage space. Don't forget to record
the exact location of each item. Also include the relative depth
of the artifact. Think about it: how someone would know that one
object was to the left and deeper than another object.
- Once the pit is completely filled (it should be level with the
surrounding soil) scatter several more artifacts across the entire
surface of the plot (beyond the limits of the pit). After recording
the location of these items, cover this level with several inches
- Exchange archeological sites with another team. On a separate
sheet of graph paper, make a sketch of this new plot. Carefully
excavate the site. Record the positions and relative depths of
any items that are uncovered during the "dig".
- Locate the position of the buried sub-floor pit. Excavate the
pit and record the locations of all recovered items.
- When you are finished obtain the plot diagram from the original
team and compare and contrast the sketches that you made with
those made by the original creators of the site. Did you correctly
identify the positions of all objects and their relative depths?
Why or why not? How did you show the various depths? What made
it difficult to map the objects?
- When the activity is complete, clean your desktop. Be sure to
dispose of the soil as directed by your instructor.
- How does the depth of a recovered item relate to the relative
time of its burial?
- How did you uncover the location of the sub-floor pit?
- Did the process of excavating the artifacts affect their placement?
Why or why not?
Bed and Breakfast Controversy
former slave quarters are being used as bed and breakfast lodgings.
Some people feel that this is an indignity to the former slaves
who were forced to live in these structures. Others believe it is
a way of connecting us to the past. What do you think? For more
information about this controversy,
visit the following URL:
Build A Model
Research the web to find photographs and models of slave quarters.
Based upon these illustrations, construct a model of a slave quarters
using cardboard, paper, and other materials. Don't forget to include
the sub-floor pit that acted as a storage area.
Suppose you were supplied with several small rectangles of Lucite
(a thick transparent plastic). Using a wax marking pen, how would
you assemble a stack of these sheets to produce a 3D model of an
excavation of slave quarters with its sub-floor pit. (Use each sheet
to represent a different depth of the excavation. On each sheet,
identify the location of the artifacts uncovered at that level.
How much living space does each person in your home have? Use a
ruler to measure the dimensions of your home's entire floor space.
Calculate the total area of space in your home. Then, divide it
by the number of people sharing this space. (This is the area of
space for each person) Now consider field slaves' quarters measuring
twenty feet by ten feet and shared by a family of five. What was
the area of living space allotted to each of these slaves? (Remember
that you are calculating area per person)
Can you create a scale map of your soil plot? Most of the time,
scale maps illustrate a "scaled down" version of a full size area.
For this challenge, however, create a scale map that is larger than
the actual area you a working with. You might need to attach several
sheets of drawing paper together in order to produce a large enough
Up The Past: Grave Sites Marked And Slave Quarters Being Excavated
A personal view of the joys and frustrations associated with slave
at Slave Quarter Sites http://www.poplarforest.org/archcommunity.htm
Archeology of the slave quarters maintained on Jefferson's Poplar
Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology
A collection of American slave narratives that offer personal insight
into the life of slaves.
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
Academic Advisors for this Guide:
Corrine Lowen, Science Department, Wayland Public Schools, Wayland,
Suzanne Panico, Science Teacher Mentor, Cambridge Public Schools,
Anne E. Jones, Science Department, Wayland Middle School, Wayland,