Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Mayan DIG!

This year, the theme of our archeological dig (we refer to it as The Dig) coming up in May is the Maya Civilization!  To that end I have been coming up with meaningful activities our kids will be doing in preparation for the Dig!

The Dig is a 4 day camp.  Geof Pursell, archaeologist and educator extraordinaire, comes over with a ton of artifacts sourced in museums.  He then digs an enormous hole and buries the real artifacts in such as way as to tell an amazing story about what has transpired throughout Mayan history.  The kids dig out the artifacts layer by layer using actual archeological techniques and try to piece together the story the site is telling.  They then make a museum with the pieces, play archaeology based board games, listen to stories and lectures and have a wonderful time.

Our first trip was to the Pennsylvania University where there is an interesting collection of Central American artifacts.  They were hosting the Maya 2012 Lords of Time exhibit which had a excellent sampling of the types of artifacts found in the tombs of Mayan kings, a wonderful display about how the Mayans calculated time and this fun machine that the children used to make their names in Mayan glyphs.

We will be visiting the Museum of Natural History with Geof before the dig starts.  Geof has a way of making everything you see meaningful.  He shows the children how to look at an artifact and piece together its story based on what it was found with, what it is made of and where was it found.  He has a way of making history come to life.  I fall in love with history and storytelling when I listen to him relate his vision to the children. He is mesmerizing.

Also my friend Will Lewis, a master carver, is carving a wooden block print of our T-shirt design which will be a Mayan glyph.  The children will also be creating their own print blocks (carving their own names in Mayan (in rubber, not wood).  I am also interested in doing something interesting about how the Mayans calculated their time using giant gears which we could cut out on the scroll saw.
...and then of course...some of the children asked if we could make a giant timeline as we did for the Greco/Roman Dig last year.  Oh...what to do? This is all very exciting!

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