3D Mini Dig


This activity requires a few hours of careful preparation, but will introduce many key educational topics (maths, english, science). It is ideal for a school science assignment or history club/YACs project and can lead on to numerous discussion points.

Materials & Tools:

  • 4 large trays (approx length 40cm x width 25cm x depth 15cm) - Plastic seed trays are ideal
  • Clean (play) sand
  • Clean/sieved garden earth
  • Clean shredded tree bark
  • Clean mixed tree leaves
  • 4 sheets white card (approx length 43cm x width 28cm)
  • 1 (A3) sheet white paper/card
  • Excavation tools (plastic spoon / lolly stick / coffee stirrers)
  • Marker Pen
  • Scissors / Craft Knife
  • Glue / Sticking tape
  • Small sticky labels
  • Paper, ruler and pen/pencil
  • Plastic gloves (optional)
  • Plastic sheeting / Newspaper (optional)
  • Ancient Artefacts examples:
    • Animals Bone
    • Broken non-glazed pottery (terra cotta flower pots are ideal)
    • Flint / stone tool
  • Old Artefacts examples:
    • Old coins
    • Glass marbles
    • Metal badges / buckles / keys
    • Small metal toy cars
    Modern Artefacts examples:
    • Small plastic toy
    • Old battery
    • Old bits of PCs
  • Modern (Paper) Artefacts examples:
    • Trading Card / Playing card / fast-food burger packet / newspaper fragments

Grid Card Preparation:

  1. Using one of the 4 sheets of white card, use the ruler and pencil to draw three rectangular shapes shown in Diagram 1, as follows:
    • Rectangle 1 - This should be 3cm larger than the length/width of the tray
    • Rectangle 2 - This should be the same size as the tray and inside Rectangle 1 (with an equal 3 cm boarder)
    • Rectangle 3 - This should be 3cm smaller than the length/width of the tray and inside Rectangle 2 (with an equal 3 cm boarder)
  2. Draw a line from each of the outside right-angles on Rectangle 3 to the nearest inside right-angle of Rectangle 2
  3. Using the craft knife / scissors, carefully cut the card following the (dotted) line of Rectangle 1 - the largest one
  4. Using the craft knife / scissors, carefully cut the card following the (dotted) line of Rectangle 3 - the smallest one
  5. Cut the card on the lines made in number 2 (outside right-angles on Rectangle 3 to the nearest inside right-angle of Rectangle 2)
  6. The card should now just be able sit onto of one of the plastic trays, with the support sections against the sides of the tray
  7. Using the ruler, measure the length and width of the remaining card (this should be Rectangle 1), divide into a number of equal squares and using the marker pen, draw the squares with letters and numbers as shown in diagram 2
  8. Repeat with the other sheets of white card

 

Map Card Preparation:

  1. Use the large (A3) sheet of paper/card, ruler and marker pen and draw a horizontal line across the middle and a vertical line across the middle - the page should now be in quartered
  2. Write on each quarter a relevant name to your activity or group((e.g. ALPHA; BETA or TEAM 1; TEAM 2 or JOHN; MARY)
  3. Now sub-divide and mark each quarter into 24 squares (the same number to match the Grid Card, as shown in diagram 3

Excavation Tray Preparation:

  1. Use small sticky labels (or paper and sticking tape) or marker pen to individually name each tray to match with the Map Card (e.g. ALPHA; BETA or TEAM 1; TEAM 2 or JOHN;MARY) on the outside, so that it can be easily seen once the tray is full
  2. Add (play) sand to each tray. Smooth and level out until you have a layer about 2-3cm deep
  3. Place 2-4 Ancient Artefacts in each tray, at various places on the sand. Gently bury each artefact until they cannot be seen and smooth over the sand again, so there are no lumps and bumps.
  4. Add (clean/sieved) garden earth to each tray on top of the sand. Smooth and level out until you have a layer about 2-3cm deep
  5. Place 2-4 Old Artefacts in each tray, at various places on the earth. Gently bury each artefact in the earth layer until they cannot be seen and smooth over the earth again, so there are no lumps and bumps.
  6. Add (clean) shredded tree bark to each tray. Smooth and level out until you have a layer about 2-3cm deep
  7. Place 2-4 Modern Artefacts in each tray, at various places on the tree bark. Gently bury each artefact until they cannot be seen and smooth over the tree bark again, so there are no lumps and bumps.
  8. Add (clean) tree leaves to each tray. Level out until you have covered the tray.
  9. Place 2-4 Modern (Paper) Artefacts in each tray, at various places on the tree leaves. Gently bury each artefact until they cannot be seen and smooth over the tree leaves again.

<< Cross-section view of Excavation Tray

Tips:

  • The artefacts chosen should be immediately recognisable by children as covering the period their represent. Ancient artefacts would be mainly "natural" objects that could be 1000+ years old; old artefacts would include glass and metal from around 100 years ago; modern artefacts represent today and should include plastic and card/paper (the card will be used to explain about decay).
  • Make sure that no artefacts used are sharp or rusty
  • When burying the artefacts, it is very important to keep them within the context of each layer (e.g. do not bury an object half in earth and half in sand)

Objective:

  1. Each child / team should be given plastic sheets/newspapers (to use as a spoil heap), an excavation tool, plastic gloves (optional) pen/pencil and paper
  2. Each child / team should be given one of the full excavation trays that is sitting on a grid card (as shown above)
  3. Using the excavation tool, the child / team start by carefully removing each leaf, until they come across an artefact
  4. Once an artefact is located, it must be fully recorded on paper before continuing. Using TEAM 1 (diagram 4) as an example:
    • Artefact = Wrapper
    • Layer=Leaves
    • Grid Reference=D3
  5. Continue removing all leaves and recording each identified artefact
  6. Start the excavation process on the bark layer and record each artefact found
  7. Complete excavation through the earth layer and sand layer
  8. Once complete, each child / team should plot their finds on the Map Grid sheet (see diagram 4)

Further Activity Examples:

  • Discussion on the activity:
    • How each artefact would survive (e.g. paper vs metal)
    • Why are certain types of artefacts found at different layers
    • What can the different layers tell us
    • Are there any patterns in the finds
    • Further ways to plot the information (e.g. Pie charts diagram 5)

  • Archaeology & excavation techniques (including washing and labeling artefacts)
  • Recording techniques
  • Wider discussions on:
    • Rubbish through the ages
    • Ways to "see" under the soil without excavating
    • Evolution of man
    • Advances in technologies
    • Dating techniques
CAREFULLY DISPOSE OF ALL MATERIALS

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