Archive | Education

Teaching archaeology to a wider audience.

2013 Day of Archaeology Festival Thank You!

The D.C. Historic Preservation Office (DC HPO) would like to thank everyone who came out and supported the 2013 Day of Archaeology Festival!  Thank you for stopping by our table and participating in our activities, we really enjoyed having you.   We would also like to thank Archaeology in the Community, for hosting the D.C. festival. 

It was a very successful event!

For those of you who wish to learn more about the DC HPO, within the Office of Planning, please navigate to our website.

The DC HPO presented on Prehistoric Pottery and Historic Ceramic assemblages, found in DC archaeological sites.  Displays were complete with signage and artifacts.  Visitors were engaged in a variety of activities, such as the “What is This?” game, where visitors had to guess the identity and function of artifacts on display.  The Stratigraphy Exercise, where visitors matched artifacts to associated soil contexts.  And, finally, the Pinch Pot making station, where visitors make their own clay Pinch Pots using prehistoric-themed tools and techniques.  It was a huge hit with the kids!

Scroll down to view photos!

Photos and Captions Blog Photos and Captions


Continue Reading

A day with Macedonian archaeology – “Neolithic settlement Tumba Madzari” (VIDEO)

This short documentary was recorded for the project celebration of international day of archaeology “Day of Archaeology 2013″ by association “Archaeologica” ‘with the support of Ministry of Culture of Republic of Macedonia.

association Archaeologica

Elena Stojanova Kanzurova

Camera, Assembling, Music:
Jane Kacanski

Radomir Ivanovic
Elena Karanfilovska

Skopje, July 2013

Continue Reading

Publish or Perish

Back in the first year of my undergrad I remember being told “for every day spent in the field, expect to spend three in the office”, because “excavation without publication is destruction.” I didn’t believe it for a second, I thought I’d be gallivanting all over the place, digging things up with gay abandon, without a second thought for paper work or grant proposals or journal submissions. But here I am, in my office, working on four projects.

Hi, I’m Liesel. I’m a first year combined Masters/PhD student at the University of Western Australia. I’m in the Centre for Forensic Science because my research is in analytical chemistry, using techniques developed for use in forensic science and applying them to artefacts, rather than evidence.

The first project I’m working on today is writing up the excavations I just got home from in Egypt. I work with the University of Hawaii at Tell Timai, in the eastern delta. It’s an amazing, sprawling Greco-Roman city, slowly being eaten up by the two villages on either side of it. This season I worked on finishing the excavation of a Hellenistic house, you can read more about it on my blog. Today I have been in touch via email with other people on the project, all over the world, trading elevations for maps, maps for photos, and photos for past reports. We’re working on writing the site’s first monograph, and I will be co-authoring two chapters, one on the house and one on the coins from the site.

Today’s conundrum was; was the house built all in one go? Or was the west half added on later? I think it was added on later, because the walls are at a slightly different bearing, and they’re thicker. Also, the site ceramicist says the ceramic fill under the floor of the east and west halves are different.

The second is my PhD project, which involves chemical analysis of thousands of beautiful Spanish silver coins. As exciting as that might be, getting the coins from the museum to my university has proven more complicated than I had thought, and they haven’t arrived yet. So instead I am doing some background research and trying to teach myself the periodic table. I can recite up to Zinc without too much trouble now.

The third project is being on the national committee for NASC14, it’s a conference being held next year in Adelaide, South Australia for students of archaeology, run by students of archaeology. I think it’s a great idea and so just this week I decided to be a part of it.

The fourth project is coursework for my Masters degree. It’s in forensic science and I’m doing it at the same time as my PhD. Today was Advanced Forensic Anthropology, and I spent all afternoon measuring skulls. I’ll measure them all three more times and then run my measurements through some stats to look at how precise I am.

Even though I’ve been in the office all day, there’s plenty of interesting things going on here.

Continue Reading

Growing up with George – A Day in the Field at Ferry Farm

Excavation at Ferry Farm, George Washington's Boyhood Home

Excavation at Ferry Farm, George Washington’s Boyhood Home


By Ashley McCuistion,

I spent my Day of Archaeology this year at Ferry Farm, George Washington’s boyhood home in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  I have been working at this site as an intern in the field since May, and have loved every minute of it!  We are currently excavating behind the site of the Washington home, seeking any evidence of outbuildings and trying to gain a better understanding of how the land was used during their occupation there.  George lived at Ferry Farm from age six to twenty-one, but the land was occupied by his family for 34 years, making it an incredibly significant part of his life’s story, and our history!

Though the majority of my summer has been spent excavating the site, I took on a considerably different role in late June when nine students from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) arrived, ready to begin a five week field school.  I was hired as their teaching assistant, a job that required me to instruct the students on how to excavate, keep records, and identify artifacts.  This was a very special opportunity for me, as I completed my field school at Ferry Farm just last summer and had an incredibly positive experience that lead me to pursue archaeology as a career.  I was very eager and excited to guide these new students through their experience here and share all I have learned with them, though I will admit that I was terribly nervous as well, as this was my first time teaching and I was not sure what to expect.  As the first week began, however, my nerves very quickly disappeared and I became quite comfortable in my new role – a development that was very much influenced by the enthusiasm and abilities of this great group of students.  I was constantly impressed by their positive attitudes and responsiveness to my instructions.  I truly could not have asked for a better bunch of students, which is what made this year’s Day of Archaeology so bittersweet.

Excavating with the VCU students on the 4th of July, 2013

Excavating with the VCU students on the 4th of July, 2013

Friday was the last day of the VCU field school, which began rather quietly as the students spent the morning inside taking a ceramics test.  I kept busy in the field by helping fellow interns Allen and Katie quickly fill a few wheelbarrows with soil in preparation for a kid’s archaeology camp that was coming out to help us screen.  Unfortunately, last week was our final week of excavation, so we only had one mostly excavated unit left to produce soil from, and what was left did not have much in the way of artifacts.  The kids arrived about an hour after we opened the site and went straight to work at the screens to see what they could find.  I was working with a particularly animated group, and I loved how excited they became every time they found something, despite the fact that all we had was a couple of nails and some lithic debitage!

After the kids left, the field school students returned and I joined them in scraping the base of the units they had excavated so that we could begin mapping them later in the day.  Once that was done, I dismissed those who needed to leave early and asked the others if they would mind helping us draw profiles of the southern wall of the site.  They very happily accepted the task and got to work, and before the day was done they had helped us complete every drawing, as well as begin the map for the block of the site that they had excavated.  Before I knew it, the time had come to close the site and head home.  I said goodbye to the students and thanked them for all of their hard work, and with that another wonderful chapter of my life at Ferry Farm came to a close.

VCU students Mariana Zechini (left) and Lauren Volkers (right), profile a unit

VCU students Mariana Zechini (left) and Lauren Volkers (right), profile a unit

This was my second Day of Archaeology at Ferry Farm.  Last year I wrote about my first day in the field after my last day of field school, and I could not have been more excited to continue my experience there!  I had no idea where my pursuit of this field would take me, but I knew that I had found something special at Ferry Farm, and I wanted to hold on to that for as long as I could.  I suppose it is somewhat poetic that I would spend this day in such a similar place as I did last year, this time as a teacher instead of a student…  I feel so incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn and grow at this site, and to work with such incredible supervisors, teachers, coworkers, and students.  It has been a wonderful summer at Ferry Farm, and though I will be sad to leave as this final week comes to a close, I look forward to my next adventure – and to next year’s Day of Archaeology!

Continue Reading

Nimrud for Museums and Mobiles

“Just as this bug stinks, so may your breath stink before god, king and mankind!”
– one of the chilling curses invoked in the treaty between King Esarhaddon of Assyria and his vassals in 672 BC.

I’m curator of cuneiform collections in the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum. No two days are the same for me. One of the more predictable parts of my schedule is project work. Today I’ve been working on a collaborative project called Nimrud: Materialities of Assyrian Knowledge Production, funded by the AHRC and directed by Eleanor Robson at the University of Cambridge.

The Nimrud project explores how scientific and historical knowledge is made from archaeological objects. We’re tracing the biographies of inscribed artefacts from their manufacture and use to their current locations in museum collections and their virtual representations on the web. As part of the project, we’re assembling online resources related to the ancient Assyrian capital city of Nimrud (Kalhu/Calah), especially the finds from excavations by the British Institute for the Study of Iraq in 1950’s and 1960’s. We’ll also be hosting several related events throughout 2013.

Our resources are designed and licensed for re-use by museums in mobile gallery guides. The technical focus is on the development of Linked Data, to encourage meaningful connectivity between previously isolated resources, and to bridge the gap between the museum case and the online world.

Today I’ve been writing web pages about the “Vassal Treaties of Esarhaddon”. King Esarhaddon drew up a remarkable treaty to ensure that his chosen son would succeed him on the throne. His own experience showed that a smooth succession could not be taken for granted. My biography of this object will go live on the Nimrud website in August. In the meantime, you can read the text – and all the fun curses – on the SAA website (it’s no. 6).

BM 132548. The treaty between Esarhaddon and Humbaresh.

The treaty between Esarhaddon and Humbaresh, ruler of the city of Nashimarta. BM 132548. Copyright Trustees of the British Museum.

Continue Reading

My Day of Archaeology with Worcestershire Young Archaeologists’ Club

Using a sickle

Using a sickle

This year, my Day of Archaeology coincided with an event I had organised for the Festival of Archaeology, based at the Worcestershire Young Archaeologists’ Club Allotment.  The Allotment was acquired in early 2012 as a space for our young archaeologists (or YACs) to be able to undertake experimental activities, gain practical archaeological experience and to provide a resource for further activities during the year.  It was selected as a result of research undertaken using the Worcester City Historic Environment Record, which identified potential Roman settlement in the area, and therefore may provide a rare window into previously unseen archaeology.

Excavating a test pit

Excavating a test pit

Over the course of the past 18 months we have fought a long battle with the brambles and finally this summer were ready to harvest our first crop, a traditional long-strawed wheat.  We decided to run a day-long event with our young archaeologists so that they could get involved with the whole process of harvesting, using traditional methods.  Alongside these activities we also undertook to excavate a 1m x 1m test pit, to develop their practical archaeological skills.  The club has a strong mission to involve young people in real research, not just for the fun of it (though of course we have fun along the way), but to provide something of value to the archaeological record and to promote the sense that these very capable young people are contributing work completed to professional standards, and adding to our collective knowledge.  All the activities we undertake are set within their archaeological context, so the evidence for the experimental methods we are using on site is set out from the start, as well as evidence for plant and seed remains and the like.  We were very grateful to draw on the expertise of Environmental Archaeologist Liz Pearson  who has been involved with this project from the outset.

We’re not afraid to take risks.  Every YAC got to have a go with the sickle to cut the wheat crop

A finished corn dolly

A finished corn dolly

down!  Once cut, the wheat was bundled up and left to dry, except for a handful of stems used to make corn dollies, which proved to be quite a fiddly enterprise, though extremely absorbing.  Using a supply of grain which had already been dried, we were able to practice winnowing away the chaff and then used our rotary quern stone to make flour.

Finds at the #WYACAllotment

Finds at the #WYACAllotment

Meanwhile, over in our test pit, Rob Hedge, CBA Community Archaeology placement and member of the WYAC team, made sure that everyone was well-versed in Pythagoras Theorem as he explained how to set out a trench correctly.  A number of finds were uncovered within the top 20cm of soil including quite a few pieces of Roman iron slag, 18th/19th century clay pipe and what we believe to be the handle of a Tudor cup.  These finds will be processed by our YAC members and written up for inclusion within the HER.  In the meantime, live reporting via Twitter ensured that a greater audience than just those that could attend was engaged using our site hashtag #WYACAllotment.  We hope now to develop this project further, to build an ongoing resource for skills training and experimental techniques into the future.  At the time of writing a rather fine crop of flax is ripening and we hope to harvest and process this during the summer holidays!


Bringing in the Harvest (with kind permission of Rob Hedge)

Continue Reading

Day of Archaeology 2013 Garden Tour

Let me introduce myself: my name is Andrea Keller and I am the Cultural Program Coordinator at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville, West Virginia, USA. Like everyone here, I “wear many hats” in a single day. Today, I shall put on my garden hat and take you on a tour of our Interpretive Garden. Let’s meet by the gift shop at the museum’s entrance. If you get there before I do, there is a display of crops and photos from previous years (our garden is in its 4th year). By the way, if you visit us during the winter season, you might find a “Holiday Tree” decorated with produce from the garden in this hallway. It’s nice to have these indoor displays, since there won’t be much to see outside in the garden in winter.

Ah, there you are – let’s go outside!

Interpretive Garden and Grave Creek Mound

Interpretive Garden and Grave Creek Mound

With the rain and warm weather this year, the Interpretive Garden has been growing like mad. It is based a traditional Native American gardening system known as a Three Sisters Garden, but also on archaeological evidence. The basic premise of a Three Sisters Garden is that the Three Sisters, Corn, Beans, and Squash, grow together in the same plot. Sister Corn is tall and supports Sister Bean, while Sister Squash spreads her vines on the ground and protects the other two. Modern science tells us that the bean’s roots put nitrogen in the soil, which the corn needs. Meanwhile, the squash’s vines and leaves protect the other two plants by shading out weeds, and holding moisture in the ground as living mulch. I am told that the prickly squash stems and leaves deter animals who otherwise would joyfully feast on the corn and beans. The prehistoric gardeners who learned about all of this must have been amazing people.

The Interpretive Garden is home to some very special “Sisters”:



The corn is “Rhode Island Eight Row Flint” originally grown by the Narragansett people of Rhode Island. A type of 8-row flint corn was found on an archaeological site near here. The corn in the garden has yellow cobs and red cobs, but since corn kernels found on archaeological sites are usually charred, I do not know what color the prehistoric version might have been.



We are growing three different kinds of beans. “Blue Shackamaxon” has small, very dark blue –black seeds. It originally came from the Lenape people of New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania and dates back to at least 1800 AD. Known as the “Treaty Bean”, it has been preserved by Quaker farmers. “Yellow Arikara” beans come from Monticello, where Thomas Jefferson found them “one of the most excellent we have had”. They were collected from the Arikara people in the Dakotas by Lewis and Clark on their “Voyage of Discovery”. The third bean is “Genuine Cornfield”. I don’t have much history about this variety, but it does grow very well amongst the corn! Look carefully among the corn stalks, and you will spot its vines.

Canada Crookneck squash

Canada Crookneck squash

The garden also contains squash, pumpkins, and gourds. The pumpkins and squash have showy orange flowers, while the gourds have white ones. Our squash is “Canada Crookneck”, and was grown by the Iroquois. It is the ancestor of the “Butternut” squash that can be found at the supermarket in the fall. The crooknecks have long necks that I am planning to cut and dry to make squash rings. Such rings were stored for winter use, but I have other plans. We will use them to make ring-and-pin skill games with our visitors.

The pumpkins and gourds in the garden are commercially available heirloom varieties – grown until varieties with more detailed histories can be obtained. I hope to use the pumpkins as décor under our “Holiday Tree,” and will cut the gourds into handy bowls.



In addition to the “Three Sisters”, we are growing sunflowers and goosefoot. The latter is a variety of Chenopodium and is related to a plant whose seeds were found in archaeological sites (there was even a domesticated variety). Goosefoot has diamond-shaped leaves that are supposedly resemble those of a goose. I don’t know much about the feet of a goose, but I do know the leaves of the goosefoot plant are quite tasty! Sunflowers and Chenopodium were some of the earliest plants cultivated in this part of North America. Sunflowers have a fascinating history of their own – look them up sometime, if you have the chance. There were also other plants grown in early gardens such as marsh elder, little barley, erect knotweed and maygrass.



The Interpretive Garden grows at the foot of the Grave Creek Mound, and I can’t help imagining that the Adena people who built the Mound may have been eating sunflower seeds, goosefoot greens, and possibly pumpkins or squash. They may have taken a break from their toils to drink water stored in a gourd, and probably dug up the 3 million loads of soil for the Mound with similar digging sticks and hoes used in their gardens. Imagine using tools with wooden handles and blades of stone, bone, or mussel shell to build the Grave Creek Mound!

I am glad that you joined me on this Day of Archaeology garden tour. If you have the chance to visit our area in person, please stop in and say “hello”. The Three Sisters will be happy to meet you, and so will I!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many volunteers who made the garden possible: The John Marshall High School horticulture students who prepared the soil by clearing last year’s debris, spreading mushroom compost, and rototilling; the service learning students from WVU’s native American Studies program who put up the fence and weeded and watered the young seedlings, and Steve and Martha, whose weeding efforts are very much appreciated. Thank you also to everyone who helped plant the garden and provided displays and activities on our annual public planting day. THANK YOU ALL!!!

You can learn more about the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex by reading posts by my colleagues and some of our amazing and much appreciated volunteers. We are part of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, and can be found at

It has been a great growing year so far!

It has been a great growing year so far!

Continue Reading

Dig into Reading

Jesse Walker, RPA, Senior Archaeologist at Richard Grubb & Associates, Inc.
Cranbury New Jersey (USA)

I prepared material for an upcoming simulated archaeological dig for children between the ages of 5 and 11. The event will be held at The Margaret R. Gundy Memorial Library in Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania (USA) on Thursday August 1, 2013 as part of Bucks County Library’s “Dig Into Reading” Summer Program. The simulated archaeological dig provides an opportunity for youth to experience the thrill of discovering ancient artifacts. Historic period artifacts and Native American artifacts are buried in dig boxes. Using trowels and other tools, the children uncover stone tools, broken earthenware, and other objects. The children complete artifact identification sheets, which are reviewed. This simulated archaeological dig was conducted during the Spring of 2013 for the Bristol Borough School District after-school program with great success.



Continue Reading

A day with Macedonian archaeology – I know what archaeology is. (from the educational program of the Museum of Macedonia)


I know what archaeology is. (from the educational program of the Museum of Macedonia)

  • First visit to the museum, meeting with the educators, going through the museum exhibitions.
  • The story of the Caveman (man from the Stone Age). Adapted for the children’s age.
  • Modeling vessels of clay.
  • Visit to the ancient city of Skupi. (archaeological site)
  • Making jewelry.
  • Making the poster about archaeology
  • Presentation of the project to the parents.
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAvisit to the museum
    Modeling vessels of clay

    DSCF2578 DSCF2593
    Visiting the Roman city of Scupi


    Making jewelry

    Making a poster about archaeology


    Presentation of the project to their parents

Continue Reading

A day with Macedonian archaeology “Educational ceramic workshop”

The Student Archaeological Association “Axios” was established to perform activities in order to promote archaeological values in society and to raise the awareness about cultural heritage and its protection.


The purpose of the project “Educational ceramic workshop”, which is in the field of experimental archaeology, is to familiarize and to bring closer different segments of the lives of the people from the past to the students from the Department of Art History and Archaeology. This training allowed the students through creative work to enter into a different world and try to express themselves following the examples of a given material culture.

With longstanding systematic archaeological research, the number of items of movable cultural heritage significantly increased. Especially notable is the number of pottery items which are already exhibited in the museums.

Therefore, acquiring knowledge about the preparation of the pottery in the Bronze and Iron Ages, undoubtedly contributed to a better understanding of history, and also to increase the level of professionalism in the field.

1003323_10201760381636481_1179006008_n 1001015_10201760382116493_1370010936_n

Getting to know the method of manufacturing pottery objects from the Bronze and Iron Age went through a practical part by making the same objects used in those periods. It must be mentioned that during the project activities we implemented methods, techniques and authentic materials for the above mentioned periods.


Due to the specifics of the matter, the planned activities were carried out at the Museum of the City Negotino, on an open space and in a pottery workshop. All the activities were conducted in collaboration with experts in the field of applied art, cultural heritage protection and museology: sculptor-expert in the field of pottery, senior curator-archaeologist and a potter.

On this occasion, we would like express our special thanks to Peter Rizov for the permission to use the premises of the Museum in Negotino; to Branko Velickovski for his generous help with the project; to Ilija Kostadinov for the permission to use his pottery workshop and for the procurement of the materials, and to Association Archaeologica who gave us the opportunity to present our project within this manifestation marking the Day of Archaeology 2013.


Continue Reading