Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Big Dig: The Site

Excavation commenced Tuesday.  This is what we were waiting for.....opening day of The Big Dig!  The children will meet from 10-4 from Tuesday through Friday to work on this project.  It is like being at archaeology camp with some of their best friends!

The Dig began with Geoff prepping the team about what it means to be an archaeologist.  He has his PhD in archaeology and has traveled the world  visiting many sites.  In order to get the full experience of being on a dig site, the children had to realize what organizational systems would be in operation.  Geography is one.  The dig site is a replica of Sesklo, Greece:
Sesklo is located on a terrace terminating in the small coastal plain of Volos. The first inhabitants, who were farmers and stock-raisers, founded a small settlement around 6500 BC. Evidence for this period, which was named by D. R. Theocharis (one of the excavators) Aceramic or Pre-pottery, have been "strikingly scant". The settlement was inhabited until c. 1500 BC.

Sesklo enjoyed its heyday around 5500 BC. The community covered an area of more than 13 hectares and its population could not have been more than a few hundred inhabitants. The buildings at Sesklo had stone foundations and a "superstructure of pisé, crowned by a gable of hip roof made of a thick layer of clay on a timber frame." Most of them where one-roomed measuring between 10 to 50 square meters.”

Before the girls headed to the site, they learned that they will be finding things that may or may not be familiar to them.  Geoff gave them these instructions: If their brain feels like it has some connection, dig deep to extract it.  Throw out a thought or theory.  You may be right, or you may be wrong, but many finds began with a simple wrong theory.  He showed pictures of sample artifacts.  Some, like a vase, were simple to guess. But he made them dig deeper.  Look at the painting.  What is happening?  What story can be told based on who the owner of this vase was?  For items like a clay chimney, at first no one knew what it was, but by talking it though they discovered exactly what it was and what is was used for.  As a mom and an educator it was fascinating to watch.

We headed to the site which was arranged in an 8 square grid; one grid space for 2 children to work. They learned how to use their tools to keep the space flat and protect the artifact.  The learned how to record each item they found.  

As the week progresses, they will use these artifacts to develop a theory of what life was like at this site in ancient Sesklo.  There will also be a mystery to solve....

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