How do we uncover the past?

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How do we uncover the past?. Where does our information come from?. Archaeological evidence Remains of people & animals Artifacts (human-made objects) Oral history (history that is passed on without being written down) Primary documents Legends (stories of humans with basis in fact) - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


How do we uncover the past?How do we uncover the past?1Where does our information come from?Archaeological evidenceRemains of people & animalsArtifacts (human-made objects)Oral history (history that is passed on without being written down)Primary documentsLegends (stories of humans with basis in fact)Secondary sourcesBegin by asking students to brainstorm possible sourcesArtifacts include things like pottery, tools, etc.Oral history includes stories, songs, etc.Primary documents include diaries, newspaper articles, government records, etc. REMEMBER: artifacts & oral history are also primary sourcesLegends often begin as oral histories and include King Arthur, lost city of Atlantiscan you think of more? Troy is a legend that proved to have a true source as archaeologists have uncovered the remains of that city.Myth is a story related to the gods and humans relations with themSecondary sources include history books, documentaries, etc.2Which professions contribute to the study of the past?Archaeologists: study the remains of early civilizations & peoplePaleontologists: study the remains of animals & plants (fossils)Anthropologists: study the origins, development, social habits & culture of humansPaleoanthropologists: study the fossils & remains of humans & their ancestorsAt the end, ask students which profession is portrayed in each image:TOP: ArchaeologistBOTTOM: Paleoanthropologist3Which professions contribute to the study of the past?Historians: gather information from a variety of sources to create a record of past eventsEthnologists: study people and culture; some historians develop theories about the past based on ethnological studies of similar groups/cultures.Other scientists: historians and archaeologists often rely on experts in geography, computers, DNA, etc. to help them identify and analyze their finds.4A little history teacher propaganda No need to write this down. Seeing as we are talking about history-related professions, I thought I would illustrate just a few of the many careers open to those with the skills of a historian:Work well with other peopleStrong communication skillsUnderstanding cause and effect relationshipsFormulate and ask good questionsResearch skillsMetacognition (e.g. awareness of how your own bias affects your thinking)For those who cant read the tiny print, careers that need these skills include:Travel guideJournalistDetectiveSocial workerLawyerEditorLibrarianResearch assistant or directorRestoration construction technologistArchitectAnd some of the more obvious ones like teacher, professor, museum exhibit designer, archivist, archaeologist5What tools do archaeologists use?Excavating tools: trowel, shovels, brushes, dust pan, dental tools, buckets, sifter/screen, etc.Measuring & surveying tools: tape measure, photo scales, optical line meters, etc.Recording tools: camera, pencil, paper, etc.Archaeologists actually use a wide variety of tools. Similar tools of different sizes may be employed at different points in a dig (e.g. large shovel to reach desired layer, but small hand-held shovel for careful excavation)Measuring tools can be used for mapping the site as well as for maintaining exact level and unit sizes during a digTheses are just the most common.SHOW VIDEO OF ARCHEOLOGICAL TOOLS6Preparing and Executing a DigAssemble a dig team: field director, supervisors, crew, other professionals (e.g. surveyor, photographer)Remove top layers of soil: Look for stains (indicate remains of fire pit, wooden structure or midden) and artifactsCarefully excavate findingsRecord findings: make field notes, take photos, map location, bag and labelAnalyze findings: 75% of archaeology is lab analysis of artifactsDig team: Field director will be a trained archaeologist and supervisors will also have some previous experience, crew is typically inexperienced (e.g. archaeology students)Midden: garbage pitAnalyzing findings: important stage as artifacts are a valuable primary source for many fields of study (history, biology, etc.)SHOW VIDEO OF EXCAVATION TECHNIQUES FOLLOWED BY EXCAVATION PROCESSTransition to idea of exercising caution in a dig after watching 2nd video. Ask:Why do you think they are careful not to stab into the ground where they cant see?7Dig PrecautionsArchaeology is destructive so great care must be taken at a dig:Remove soil carefully so that all objects are found in placeEnsure no artifacts are missedDont use tools in any way that would damage artifactsOnce a site is excavated, it can never be reworkedScreening and scrapping away earth ensure these things8Underwater ArchaeologyUses same techniques, but excavations are more challengingConventional dives can be no deeper than 35 metres & 4 hours longLimited mobility, visibility & dexterityArtifacts must be treated to avoid decompositionTitanic, for example, has been studied with special submarines because it is below the conventional depth.9Types of ArtifactsOrganic Remains: plants, animals, peopleInorganic Remains: tools, pottery, etc.Organic artifacts are best preserved in dry, hot areas (e.g. deserts), extremely cold regions (e.g. Arctic) & waterlogged conditions (e.g. bogs, seafloor)Acidity in a bog preserves flesh, but not bone, so bodies found in bogs will not have bonesOn the seafloor, the water must be near freezing or the artifacts must be buried in silt for preservation to happen. Otherwise microorganisms will destroy the remains.10Study of ArtifactsOrganic & inorganic remains can tell us how people used the materials around them & what food they ateStudy of these artifacts can also reveal what they were used for (e.g. weapons)Human remains can tell us about life expectancy, common diseases, occupations, etc.Bones can reveal gender, age, etc. of an individual.Injuries, malformations, etc. can tell us how the person died, diseases they had, famines they survived, etc.If we have enough remains from a specific time/place, we can make generalizations about life at the time.11Dating ArtifactsStratigraphy: studying the layers at a site to determine ageRadiocarbon dating: measuring the level of radioisotope carbon 14 in organic remains to find ageAll living things absorb carbon during their lifeAt death, carbon is released at a constant rateRate of decay helps calculate accurate ageLayers at the top are younger than layers at the bottomRadiocarbon dating cannot be done for inorganic remains12Your turnWatch the following video.With a partner, pretend you are paleoanthropologists working at a dig site where this discovery has been made.Create a series of questions that you would ask about this find in order to learn as much as possible about it.Play video of human remains being uncovered at a dig site to accompany this activityAfter students have formulated some questions, have them ask as many as is reasonable within the remaining time. Then present them with the information about the real life find.13The real findJane, 14, who died in Jamestown, Virginia over the winter of 1609-1610The remains (a skull & tibia) were found in a cellar with dog & horse bonesMarks on her skull indicate that flesh was thoroughly removedthe first scientific evidence of survival cannibalism from this periodThis winter was known as the starving time as severe drought led to food shortages that killed 80% of the colonists14


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