22 September 2009

Teaching Archaeology at Johnson's Island

Johnson's Island in Ohio was a prison camp for Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War, and has been an ongoing dig for the last 2o years or so. Archaeology Magazine has an "Interactive Dig" feature about the site, which is used as a field school and has great public outreach programs. I especially like the most recent field report, written by teachers who were learning about archaeology and developing ideas on how to present the field to young adults.

I especially like Dig Bingo, which seems like a great idea for teaching students to look for the significance of artifacts as they dig. The teachers report:
When we were first given our bingo sheet we assumed it was just the activity for the day and it would be no big deal, little did we know it wasn’t as easy as it looked! As we began digging and sifting as a team we soon realized how difficult it was going to be. Being a young competitive group we quickly learned the techniques to finding artifacts in the dirt. We were able to find pieces of chamber pots, possible tea cups, animal claws, parts of medical and relish bottles, and pottery to get our bingo. Getting bingo after three days of digging was one of the most exciting things about the week.
The Dig Bingo sheet.

Sounds like 'Interpretation at the trowel's edge' with a dash of church social thrown in!

I have a personal interest in the site: my great-great-grandfather, Austin Shoup, was posted there from August 1863 to July 1865 during his service in the 128th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Though winter on Lake Erie is definitely unpleasant, I have admit that this is a pretty soft posting for an infantryman in 1863 - the year of Chancellorsville, Chickamauga, and Gettysburg. It's always made me a little reluctant to brag about "having an ancestor who fought in the Civil War."

1 comment:

  1. What's hapening to the articafcts being taken from the Island?