1st African Diaspora Mock Dig in Augustana’s History Gains Major Attention
Today marked the first time in Augustana history that students conducted a mock archaeological excavation as part of Augustana’s Spring Symposium called the Celebration of Learning. During this symposium event myself and 9 of my students from my course “Archaeology and History of the African Diaspora” conducted this public excavation experience to showcase the world of African Diaspora archaeology in action. In addition to this excavation experience, the students also exhibited a poster entitled “10 Things You Didn’t Know About African Diaspora Archaeology”, displayed their own individual research from different African Diaspora sites, and connected live with students in the Virgin Islands through Skype. The students were set up at 4 different stations: digging station, sifting station, documentation station, and public outreach station. The organization of this experience was intentional to provide an opportunity for every student to rotate through each station and experience all of the moving parts as well as the level of teamwork required in conducting a real archaeological excavation. Here are some highlights from each station.
Digging in 10 cm levels was more challenging than they thought it would be but at this station they learned how to excavate carefully with their trowels, record depth measurements, and perform a clean sweep of their units.
The artifacts were sifted carefully using a 1/4 inch mesh screen and bagged for later sorting and analysis, as part of the post-excavation processing, which the students will learn about in class on Friday.
Documenting the site included filling out site level forms, preparing artifact bags, taking pictures, and examining soil colors and texture.
PUBLIC OUTREACH STATION
We engaged with over 50 visitors on site and several students in the Virgin Islands through our mock dig. This station also included an exhibition of student work as each student selected their own African Diaspora archaeology site to investigate and write up a summary. Each site selection is different and gave visitors a sense of the diversity of sites that fall under the umbrella of the African Diaspora.
What did the students have to say about the experience…
“On TV, it is more of a treasure hunt. I have learned now that archaeology is more of a methodological approach and not a treasure hunt” -D.C.
“We weren’t looking for gold but for artifacts that can provide evidence of a historical moment and culture. Excavating is not just the act of digging but a team effort.” -B.D.
“It takes time to plan a dig, and afterwards complete your analysis upon a site. The dig brought to light that there are actually archaeological teams who excavate sites, and not just one lone archaeologist in a bucket hat” – A.P.
“In completing the excavation, we learned how difficult and structured an actual excavation can be, as well as how important it is to have a strong team helping. It is not possible to do it all alone and the film industry does a horrible representation of archaeology. This was an amazing and unique experience.” -B.G.