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Treasures of the Sunken City

Classroom Activity

To catalog and map objects on a tabletop site.

Materials for each team
  • copy of "Tabletop Map" student handouts
    Tabletop Map (PDF or HTML)
    Artifact Mapping Grid (PDF or HTML)
  • masking tape
  • ruler or measuring tape
  • marker
  • spool of thread
  • pencils
  • colored pencils
  • 5-7 assorted objects to map (such as books, computer discs, rulers, cans, videotapes)
  1. 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.

  2. Divide students into teams of three to five. Gather materials and distribute the "Tabletop Map" student handouts.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 site.

  5. 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).

Activity Answer

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.

Teacher's Guide
Treasures of the Sunken City

Video is not required for this activity
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