Archaeology in the history classroom

Archaeological Record

I am completely biased on this, as a community archaeologist I know what impact archaeology can have on the community, and how exciting it is to children! The archaeological record is a vital part of our heritage.

I think this often gets forgotten in the classroom setting. For our current Year 7’s, I compiled a series of lessons on the different aspects of archaeology, and how archaeologists help tell the real hidden stories of the world.

Before any archaeology company, or group, carries out excavation work, desktop assessments have to be carried out. These include mapping the area, as well as recording the information regarding each time period. These are called Written Schemes of Investigation (WSI). Due to the amount of building work, houses and infrastructure, the archaeology is changing the way that we view certain periods of history.

The archaeology tells us what the written records often can’t, about the daily lives of those throughout history. What they ate, the type of houses they lived in, how they were buried, to name just a few.

Archaeology doesn’t just happen in the UK, but across the world. In the last year archaeology has changed the view of the Ancient Maya, increased the amount of known Ancient Egyptian buildings along the Nile, found new African migration patterns during the early human period, and new DNA studies have shown contact between Ancient Polynesians and South Americans in 1200 AD, this is only a fraction of the new discoveries! These are all fantastic additions to ‘Meanwhile, Elsewhere’ and can easily be found online as archaeologists are always keen to share their findings on a global scale.

Contacting your local museum, or even searching online for the Heritage Environment Record (HER) for your area, can show information that will add greatly to local studies. These may be find spots, but will be able to tell you how far back your local history goes. My local written record only goes to the late Anglo-Saxons, our archaeology record goes back to the Mesolithic. Some of our local geophys shows the change from Iron Age building to Roman. With LIDaR freely available anyone can see what is hidden beneath their feet! Local Archaeology companies often do outreach. My Year 6’s and 7’s loved being able to touch Anglo-Saxon pottery, I am lucky enough to be custodian of my local archaeological group’s archive which often ‘visits’ our school. Some companies, and local archaeology groups, will even come and carry out a dig in your school (Covid-19 not withstanding). They will also come and give talks, adding to your cultural capital. There is so much that archaeology can add to your history lessons!



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