Field Trips

Archaeology at the Iron Works

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Science,Social Studies
Common Core Standards:
6.L.3, 7.L.3, 8.L.3


Program Summary:
Students place artifacts on a timeline to get a general sense of what materials and contexts they would expect to find in certain time periods. They learn about some of main principles of archaeology like stratigraphy and the associations between objects before embarking on a mock archaeological dig. As they unearth artifacts, they will be asked to record as much information about the object is possible on a data sheet and then work with their fellow students to determine possible uses of the items in the past and what the associations betweeen the objects they have found can tell them about the site's use in the past. Groups will present their findings, then learn about the findings of the archaeologists who excavated the Saugus Iron Works in the 1940s by exploring the 17th century artifacts they found in our museum. 

Essential Questions:
How do we know what happens in the past?
How do we know the age of artifacts as we find them?
What can the associations between objects tell us about the past?
Why is it important to record data precisely and in detail in archaeology?


  • to introduce students to some of the main concepts of Archaeology
  • to encourage students to connect physical objects to abstract concepts and academic knowledge in history
  • to have students practice scientific and deductive reasoning skills in interpreting primary sources
  • to have the students connect with the history and archaeology of Saugus through a simulated excavation experience and museum exploration

Program Length: 75-90 minutes

Target Audience: 6th - 8th grade

Massachusetts Curriculum Connections

Grade 7

2. Use correctly the words or abbreviations for identifying time periods or dates in historical narratives (decade, age, era, century, millennium, AD/CE, BC/BCE, c., and circa). Identify in BC/BCE dates the higher number as indicating the older year (that is, 3000 BC/BCE is earlier than 2000 BC/BCE) (H)

3. Construct and interpret timelines of events and civilizations studied. (H)

4. Distinguish between primary and secondary sources and describe how each kind of source is used in interpreting history. (H)

6. Describe ways of interpreting archaeological evidence from societies leaving no written records. (H)

Grades 8-12

8. Interpret the past within its own historical context rather than in terms of present-day norms and values. (H, E, C)



As students excavate the mock dig site, they will use the Unit summary form to record information about the artifacts they discover and where they were found.

Download Unit Summary Form

Last updated: October 19, 2017