Houghton Mifflin Social Studies
A Message of Ancient Days

Archaeological Sites, Past and Future

Objective: Students study an archaeological exploration which shows the daily life of a group of people, then identify present-day objects which would give future archaeologists information about students' daily life.

What You Need:

Suggested Time:
6 hours over 4-5 days

Building Background:
Review with students the goal of modern archaeology, which is to understand the lives of all people, rich and poor. Discuss how archaeologists study many aspects of what people left behind: their buildings, their writings and drawings, even their rubbish. Point out how archaeologists draw conclusions from clues. For example, a pile of chicken bones can lead to the conclusion that these people ate chicken. A kind of metal not naturally found in the environment can lead to the conclusion that these people traded with others. Work with students to identify other examples of specific clues and conclusions. Tell students they will study a specific archaeological site and create their own site.

What To Do:

1. Divide students into working groups. Have them research, in the school or public library, a specific archaeological dig which reveals the daily life and activities of a group of people.

2. Each group should choose one site to focus on and note their findings on the Archaeological Clues and Conclusions worksheet.

3. Once each group has studied a dig and completed the worksheet, reassemble the groups and distribute the For Future Archaeologists worksheet. Tell students they will now use this worksheet to make a list of objects from today that would tell a future archaeologist about their own daily life. Remind them, again, to make a specific link between the objects they choose, and the information each object will provide.

4. When each group has finished its list, have them gather examples or images of the items on their list. Items can be represented by objects (a small food or drink container, for example), photos (commonly worn clothing from a magazine) or a student drawing (a book cover or CD, showing its title.) Encourage students to be creative in their gathering of these items. Have groups work on their own, without showing the rest of the class.

5. Once each group is satisfied that they have the components of an archaeological dig for the future, have each group assemble a box or site containing these items. Encourage them to be aware of the order in which items will be uncovered by future archaeologists.

Discuss with students how the objects they studies and the objects they chose made it easy or difficult to draw conclusions. Encourage students to see that some objects can have multiple, and even conflicting, interpretations.


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