The archaeology lesson that I used last week went so well that I decided to use another from It’s About Time. This lesson was on Lifestyle and artifacts and what information we can gather about a culture/people from the things that we find. As before I took the curriculum and made a slideshow from the material. It was mainly about lifestyle: how we eat, sleep, dress, education, recreation and the artifacts that we use to do those things: fork, knife, plates for eating for example. Then we looked at a regular pen and tried to think of all the things we could learn from it…. if people had pens, they were literate – could read and write, if there were a lot of pens, it might be a school and the number of pens would give us an idea on the number of students. Is the pen inscribed? Does it tell where it was made? If made in a foreign country then we know the people take part in international trade…. and so on. The other thing I put in my slide show is a few pages from one of my favorite books: Motel of the Mysteries by David Macaulay. This book takes place in the future when a man happens to fall into a hotel hallway that was buried in debris. He excavates the tomb (hotel room) and discovers an inner tomb (bathroom) with another body placed in a white sarcophagus (tub)…. and so on. Its a very entertaining book, poking fun at our modern day artifacts and how people might interpret them in the future.
The activity this week was mending pottery. My boys and I decorated some cheap terracotta pots from Walmart ($0.78 a piece) with some sharpies and then broke them into bits before class. As the kids arrived for class I had them pull one shard from a paper bag (it contained one shard from each pot). They then had to go through the 4 containers of pot shards and try to find all the pieces to their pot. Students worked in pairs, mostly siblings so they could take their pot home when they were done. Once they had all the pieces they started taping them together. Real archaeologist do it this way as well, because you want to make sure you have all the pieces you can find and know where they go before you start using glue. The kids had a lot of fun with this activity.