Archaeology, Community, Historic Preservation, History, Social Studies
This will vary based on the grade and on how many assignments the teacher selects to use.
Up to 36
Reading History RH (6-8).2, RH (6-8).3
Students will understand the basic principles of archeology.
Students will understand historical archeology, especially how it relates to Philadelphia and Independence National Historical Park. This lesson will help prepare students for the park's "Archeology: History Found in Pieces" education program.
Teachers should also be aware that there are two different spellings: archeology and archaeology. The National Park Service uses the "archeology" spelling, but many archeologists prefer the spelling with the additional "a". Both spellings are correct. The Society for American Archaeology posted an article about the spelling of "archaeology" on their website. This lesson uses the "archeology" spelling, but proper nouns (book titles, websites, etc.) retain their original spelling.
Open the lesson by putting the following writing prompt on the board or overhead projector. "What can people learn about you by looking at your trash?" Allow the students time to write their responses. Have students limit their responses to a page and then ask for volunteers to share with the class. Then, as students share, start a T-Chart list on the board or overhead to keep track of the different kinds of information that can be gained and from what piece of trash. For example: broken toys = children in the house; empty food jars = diet; old homework = what school is like, etc. Historical archeologists look at trash in much the same way, only the trash they look at is hundreds of years old
The teacher should facilitate a discussion about what archeology is (studying artifacts left behind by humans) and what it is not (studying dinosaur bones) and explain that there are different types of archeology. Archeology encompasses the history of man in both prehistoric times (the time before man had written language) and historical (after the appearance of written records). Historical archeology, which will be the focus of these lessons, is defined as the archeological studies of people documented in recent history including early America. In Philadelphia and at Independence National Historical Park, most archeology is historical archeology. Historical archeologists study underwater ship wrecks and historical sites like Franklin Court and Mount Vernon. By the end of the discussion, students should understand that archeology is the study of the way people lived in the past and archeologists learn about the past by studying the things people leave behind like buildings, pottery, tools, and graves
Refer back to the opening activity and compare the T-Chart list from the students' writing to historical archeologists excavating and examining the remains of an 18th century privy pit, trying to learn about the people who lived there and threw their trash into that pit over 200 years ago. Looking at the list students came up with for their trash, how many items would survive if they were buried in the ground for 200 years? If you analyzed only those artifacts that still remained, would your conclusions change? If so, how?
This lesson plan ties to many places in the park including the President's House Site, National Constitution Center, and Franklin Court.
Write a letter to the editor about the importance of archeology and historic preservation. Make it specific to a site in your city, if possible.
Research other kinds of archeology (besides urban archeology). Examples include industrial, underwater, experimental, and classical archeology. What are the similarities and differences to historical archeology in an urban setting?
Look for examples of archeology in popular culture such as movies, books, and television. Then, using your understanding of what archeology is and what archeologists do, write a commentary describing it your example is an accurate portrayal of archeology.
Learn about archeology at Franklin Court. This website has information on the basics of archeology all related to Benjamin Franklin and life at Franklin Court.