Digging into history

Bothwell students learn archaeology

Luci Schramm, center, and Hunter Cain, right, work their section of a plot during a Thursday mock archaeological dig at Bothwell Middle School. The seventh-grade world history students searched for artifacts, which they later had to describe in depth. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

MARQUETTE — Learning about the history of the world sometimes goes underground.

Seventh-grade students in Joe Levandoski’s world history class at Bothwell Middle School worked a prepared plot outside of the school on Thursday as part of a special lesson — a mock archaeological dig.

Student teacher Reese Dalton helped oversee the lesson in which the youngsters examined a dig site.

“They’re going to have to not just dig like crazy but actually take it like an actual archaeologist would,” Dalton said. “It kind of ties into a lot of things we’ve been talking about this whole unit, talking about different dig sites, different archaeological sites like cave paintings.”

A small plot of land was divided into different sections, with groups assigned their own segment to examine for artifacts.

Finding gold chalices and the Ark of the Covenant, though, wasn’t the goal.

“In every plot there should be a couple different artifacts of some sort,” Dalton said. “Artifacts range from different pottery, different charcoal, bone fragments, that sort of thing.”

The students grabbed tools and took to the plot to discover what they could find, with some students doing the digging and others measuring soil depth.

However, they had to be careful how they worked the soil so they wouldn’t damage an artifact that might be located close to the surface.

“They’re going to have to just basically scrape through very closely, just about 2 centimeters at a time,” Dalton said. “That way they don’t destroy anything or miss anything.”

A little paperwork, though, was involved.

Dalton said the students had to describe the artifacts in depth and plot on their graphs where in their squares they located the artifacts, and how deep they found them.

“In a real scenario, it would tell us how old the artifact is based on what the depth is,” Dalton said.

That activity, he pointed out, gives the students a good hands-on experience of how an archaeologist would work.

In Thursday’s dig, the students had to make note of even trivial items they found, such as a piece of aluminum foil, that might provide clues as to who had been at the site.

Apparently, an artifact didn’t have to be fancy to impress some kids.

“I hope we find a half-eaten, rotten hot dog,” Joey Pabian said.


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