Archaeology Day: 10/19

Come to the Museum on Archaeology Day, Saturday, October 19 and enjoy demonstrations and hands-on activities involving the wide range of the archaeological record.

Museum-wide activities will provide you with an understanding of how archaeology impacts our understanding and interpretation of past life-ways.

Bring the entire family as there will be activities for all ages!

Dig boxes will be available for the kids at the 1740s American Settlement exhibit.

Other activities will be ongoing throughout the day at each of the Museum’s exhibits noted below.

Archaeology Day Activities:

Saturday, October 19:  9:00 am – 5:00 pm

West African Farm:

For cultures that use objects that decay quickly, animal bones left behind can be one of the only sources of archaeological information. Experimental archaeology can also be useful when a culture leaves little behind. As with our West African exhibit, we use our best guesses based off of local and historical source to attempt to reconstruct appropriate building materials and methods. Come try your hand at identifying animal bones or mud-puddling to build a house.

English Farm:

Glass is a very interesting substance, found all over for building materials and other objects, but difficult to produce. Learn about the regional styles of production and decoration and take your best guess at placing glass objects along a timeline.

Previous archaeological dig on the American Indian Site (Ganatastwi)

Irish Farm & Forge:

Metal production requires specialized knowledge and training that was highly protected. Come watch our blacksmiths create objects to be used on the farms and see those objects in use at the Irish farm.

German Farm:

Ceramics, or objects made from clay, are found throughout human history and beyond. Stop by the German farm to learn about different techniques and designs on the ceramics found throughout the Museum and attempt to make a pinch pot.

Sometimes, it’s what’s missing that tells the story… like a post hole

Native American Homestead:

Come see our interpreters fire Indian pottery in a traditional underground firing pit.  Other parts of the Eastern Woodland toolkit were lithics.  Lithic, or stone tool, technology took time, effort, and knowledge.  Watch stone tools being made by a flintknapper and even try grinding a stone tool!


1740s American Settlement:

Getting dirty is part of archaeology.  The artifacts and architecture that tell us about the past are buried in the ground and we have to excavate, or dig it up. Head to the 1740 farm to try out our mock excavation and see what you dig up!

1820s American Farm:

Dwellings and structures make up a large part of the archaeological record. Try your hand at building a timber frame structure similar to the houses at the Museum

Excavations can turn up a wide variety of stone, bone, and iron artifacts

1850s American Farm:

The artifacts excavated in the field need to be washed and analyzed to help us understand a site and the activities taking place.  Help our interpreters process an assemblage of artifacts, just like an archaeologist would do in the lab.


Prior to Archaeology Day, join us for a special guest lecture on “Archaeology, Citizen Science, and Community Engagement” featuring Dr. Carole Nash, Associate Professor, School of Integrated Sciences, and Director, Shenandoah National Park Environmental Archaeology Program at JMU. The lecture is scheduled for Tuesday, October 15, 7 pm in the Museum’s Lecture Hall.

Details are available at: