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Create Your Own Dig
Create Your Own Dig
is a learning experience for teachers and students. At the end of the
instructions you can read interviews with a teacher
and a student who have participated in this exercise.
The purpose of this program is to give students a hands-on experience
of identifying the important aspects of a civilization and the artifacts
that can be left behind. The students have a chance to interpret artifacts
created by other students.
Create the artifacts
- Old plates and other ceramics
- Tin foil to represent silver
- Plaster of paris
- Construction paper
- Paint and markers
Conduct the dig
- Plot of land
- Camera (optional)
- Notepaper and pencils
Divide students into groups. Each group makes up a civilization, including
a name, location and climate, government, way of life, and religion.
The group decides what items the civilization might leave behind: decorative
pieces, eating and cooking utensils, written work, equipment for agriculture,
transportation, construction, government, and so on. The artifacts need
to fit the lifestyle, era, and climate of the invented civilization.
Then the students create the artifacts using whatever materials fit
the civilization they've defined. The students can break or damage their
materials to make them look old.
When this is complete, the groups dig holes, bury their artifacts, and
cover up the holes. Each group is then assigned another group's land
area and the students become archaeologists and dig up as many artifacts
as they can find. Student archaeologists need to try to understand the
civilization from the artifacts they've dug up. The student archaeologists
label and tag the artifacts, describing where they found them and what
they think the artifacts represent.
Civilization creators and student archaeologists compare what the artifacts
really meant with the finders' interpretations.
Sam: What was the learning objective?
Mrs. Pat Small of Mantua Elementary, Fairfax, Virginia: The idea
was to have students simulate the role of an archaeologist.
Sam: How long did the simulation take?
Teacher: About one month.
Sam: How accurate were the students?
Teacher: The students weren't very accurate. In fact, most of
the time they were very far off.
Sam: What was the most fun for the students?
Teacher: For the students I think it was the digging. They loved
to dig their holes and place the artifacts in them and they loved to
dig up other people's holes.
Sam: What was the most fun for you?
Teacher: I enjoyed watching the students work and create their
Sam: What did you do?
Rachel Gross, former student of Mantua Elementary: The students
were divided into groups and each had to make up a civilization. When
we got to the part where we dug up each other's artifacts, we had to
figure out what the civilization was all about, such as how they led
their daily life, their form of government, religion, and so on.
Sam: Were the students usually accurate?
Rachel: No, most of the time they were not accurate at all. For
example, my group's civilization chose its government by lots and the
people who dug up the box from which the lots were drawn thought that
it was just a piece of pottery.
Sam: What did you learn?
Rachel: I learned how archaeologists interpret artifacts.
Sam: What did you like the best?
Rachel: I liked creating the civilization and digging. This was
a really fun activity that taught us a lot about all the different features
of a civilization as well as about archeology.