Mississippi State University’s Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures celebrated International Archaeology Day and Mississippi Archaeology Week in Starkville on Saturday by hosting a mock excavation for community kids. Graduate students Dylan Karges and Natalie Birch worked hard on Thursday and Friday to assemble the mock dig outside of the Cobb Institute.
On Saturday, families from the community, including families of faculty members from the university, came out. The kids had a blast playing in the dirt and excavating the “site” with the help of graduate and undergraduate student volunteers.
Elements encountered in the excavation included a stone wall, a tile mosaic, ceramic pots, stone tools, and cow bones, allowing the kids to experience a variety of things that archaeologists encounter during excavation. In addition to the digging station, a screening station was set up so the kids could screen their back dirt to find more “treasures”. A table was also set up by the digging station so kids could make their own mosaics with clay tiles and try to refit pot sherds; quite a few kids were successful at finding ceramic pieces that fit together.
Those of us who volunteered were amazed by the enthusiasm for the mock dig, not only from the community kids, but also from their parents. It was gratifying to see such an interest in what we do and we enjoyed facilitating a day of playing in the dirt. We even got a chance to excavate a little bit ourselves. All in all, the mock excavation was a success and the department looks forward to future community outreach projects.