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By Laura Enderson
Why are old animal bones, broken glass bottles and well-used tools important? They allow archeologists to study and learn about the way people lived in the past.
Just like Indiana Jones, children and their parents or grandparents got to explore the world of archaeology first hand on Saturday, May 19, from 8 a.m. to noon at Poplar Forest’s Archaeology Lab.
The lab is normally closed to the public, but was open for Saturday’s lab program. The program is aimed at children grades three though six and their parents or grandparents. It costs $25 per team.
Lori Lee, lab supervisor, said the goal of the program is to teach participants about history and why it is important to understand the context of where the artifacts are located.
“We try to get kids excited about archaeology,” Lee said.
Polar Forest holds an annual summer day children’s camp for children to learn about archaeology, and many parents wanted to experience it as well, so they created the lab program to allow parents and grandparents to participate with their children.
Lee said they hope to introduce archeology to people so that they can learn and grow. They show participants how archaeologists study people’s lives through artifacts.
“We show them what we can learn through archaeology,” Lee said. “Why we need to know where the artifacts came from and the history behind them.”
They teach the participants about the process that goes into archeology, the context, labeling and emphasize what you can learn from it and what you can tell about the objects found from that information.
Jack Gary, director of archaeology, said the teams washed real artifacts, researched old medicine bottles and other objects through books and the Internet and studied animal bones.
Grey also helped the teams study and draw artifacts and showed them how to photograph the objects next to a scale for archiving.
For the grand finale, there was an unveiling of a full set of cow bones, which the participants got to rebuild together, resulting in a full cow skeleton.
The Draughon family said they learned a great deal from the program.
“It’s interesting and it teaches you exactly what they do in the archeological field,” said Neghie Draughon. “It was a good introduction.”
Kevin Draughon was happy it wasn’t just a lecture; he said they did a good job providing age appropriate activities for both children and adults.
“I had fun!” Hyden Draughon, one of the participating children, exclaimed.
Organizers already have plans for future programs.
Next time, they are going to push for an afternoon weekend program to make it an easier fit for people’s schedules. Poplar Forest plans to hold another Archaeology Lab on Oct. 20.
Poplar Forest is also holding a stargazing event with Dr. Neal Sumerlin, director of Lynchburg College’s Belk Astronomical Observatory, on May 26. It’s $5 a person and reservations are required.
For more information or reservations call the Museum Shop at 434-534-8120.