Treasures of the Sunken City
To catalog and map objects on a tabletop site.
- copy of "Tabletop Map" student handouts
Tabletop Map (PDF or
Artifact Mapping Grid (PDF or
- masking tape
- ruler or measuring tape
- spool of thread
- colored pencils
- 5-7 assorted objects to map (such as books, computer discs, rulers, cans, videotapes)
The divers at Alexandria cataloged the positions of thousands of individual
artifacts to create a map of the underwater site. Students can catalog and map
objects on a tabletop site in this activity.
students into teams of three to five. Gather materials and distribute the "Tabletop Map"
In Part I, have students make a grid on a
tabletop, arrange objects on this site (multiple layers and hidden objects are
encouraged), and use a logbook to catalog their artifacts. In choosing objects
for this activity, consider objects of similar shapes but slightly different
sizes (such as books or bottles) so that students need to read their maps
carefully to find the exact location of each object.
Once objects are arranged,
have each team either use the "Artifact Mapping Grid" student handout or
prepare their own grid and scale to map the location of the objects at its
In Part II, have students remove their objects from the tabletop, exchange maps
and tables with another team, and use the other teams' map to recreate a
tabletop site. Once Part II is completed, discuss with students the
characteristics and features common to maps using those students created, as
well as other types of maps (for example, a road, weather, or contour map).
Students may find it more difficult to map an object that is not neatly placed
on the map—that is, anything circular or books when corners aren't placed on
intersections of grid lines. Some students also might struggle with finding
ways to represent layered objects. Work with students to find ways to represent
these irregularities: by using different-colored pencils to represent objects
on a certain layer, or by using dashed lines to represent heights, as on a
contour map. A good map includes directional information, a legend which
includes the scale used, and a map key to explain any symbols. It also shows
the appropriate scale and the relationship between objects mapped,
distinguishes between varying heights of objects, and considers how the map
will be used. To extend this activity, have students map five objects on a
grid, but include descriptions in their logbook for six objects, and then
give another team their map, logbook, and six objects. As other team
members recreate the site, they will need to use the map and logbook to
determine where the unmapped object belongs on the grid.