Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Mayan DIG

We are hosting our next archeaological dig next May.  Geof Purcell from will be running it.  I have chosen Maya as the theme because it is 2012 right now and if the world doesn't come to an end, it would be a good time to watch all of those 2012 documentaries and have many interesting discussions about prophesies.

Usually as part of the dig I hold pre-dig classes to give the children some historical background and meaning to the artifacts they will be "discovering".  Last year we made a 18 foot timeline of Greco-Roman history, visited the MET (in NYC) with Geof and made "artifacts" or copies of pieces we saw in the museum.   Today I have been pondering what kind of pre-dig activities I should organize for the Mayan dig.

I have been scouring the internet for unit studies to look at, finding books and checking out various documentaries.

There are two activities I would like to try with the group.  I would like to make a 4ft x 4ft  3D topographical map of the Yucatan peninsula, with pin labels for the different settlements/towns and cities of the Mayan peoples during three different time periods in Mayan history.  I might make a timeline ahead of time to use as a guide.  I would love to make little models of Mayan architecture to place on the map.

Claire or Tristan?
The other activity is to learn how to decode and write Mayan hieroglyphics.  I found a wonderful non-technical free PDF book that explains how the language is put together.  It is written at the perfect level for children (and parents alike) to decipher and write written hieroglyphs.  The hieroglyphs themselves are so interesting and look fun to copy if not a little challenging.  After 30 minutes of reading the little e-book I felt empowered to write my children's names (and my own) in hieroglyphics.  They look pretty cool, for back of an envelope scribbles! I thought these would make wonderful block prints or perhaps as a design on T-shirts.

And did I mention that I want to go to take a field trip to Philadelphia to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology to see Maya 2012 and one of the best Mayan artifact collections in the Northeast.

I love this planning phase.  It is so much fun getting wildly lost on the internet, going down tangents.  The hours melt away and I have only just begun!

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