2007 AIA Archaeology Fair a Success
January 15, 2007
The AIA's 2007 Family Fair drew a large crowd of parents and children eager to learn about archaeology.
The Archaeological Institute of America's seventh annual Digging into Archaeology: A Hands-on Family Fair was a resounding success, drawing a crowd of 400 parents and children. "This was the largest turnout of all seven fairs we have held," says Lisa Naas, AIA's Manager for Development and Special Events. "The ballroom where we held the fair was teeming with nonstop activity throughout the day, with visitors and participants spilling out into the foyer."
Held on January 7 at the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina, the Fair was the perfect place for children--and adults--to learn about the past by participating in hands-on exhibits, meeting real field archaeologists, and asking experts about ancient civilizations. It brought together 22 groups--15 from California, including educational institutions, museums, Native American organizations, and individuals--each highlighted various aspects of archaeology in an interactive fashion for the public. Kids could do mini-excavations (one of which was edible!), see a flintknapping demonstration, reconstruct pottery, write in cuneiform, and even learn about Port Royal, once known as the Wickedest City on Earth, through a virtual-reality tour!
Leslie Ragan-Davis of the San Diego Museum of Man with a young Egyptian
At one of the most popular exhibits of the 2007 Family Fair, Leslie Ragan-Davis, a docent at the San Diego Museum of Man for 16 years, helped kids dress up in ancient Egyptian costume. "This is the second Fair I have participated in, and I have really enjoyed it," says Ragan-Davis. "We had several families whose children were quite knowledgeable of Egypt and this Fair was just the thing for them." But there is more to the Family Fair than a fun day's outing, she notes, "I believe the Fair is important to have all over the country to acquaint people with the history of our civilization."
Shelley Wachsmann of Texas A&M's Institute of Nautical Archaeology was also participating in his second Family Fair. "I am working on a book dealing with archery in biblical times, and one chapter deals with drawing the bow," he explains. "It occurred to me that this aspect of archery might be a fun thing to demonstrate to youngsters, so I asked my friend and colleague Jack Farrell, a master bow-maker from Houston, to prepare some rough bows and a few blunt-tipped arrows. I come with handouts and pinups of ancient images from Egypt, Assyria, and the Neo-Hittite world that teach us about how the bow was drawn in antiquity."
Shelley Wachsmann of Texas A&M's Institute of Nautical Archaeology demonstrates proper bow-drawing technique.
"The public is well aware of forensics thanks to television, but they haven't really heard of bioarchaeology, so I appreciated the opportunity of explaining how the analysis of human skeletal remains reveals information on how people lived in past," says Shannon Black. A bioarchaeology graduate student at San Diego State University, she had a selection of skull casts on display at the Fair. "Overall, people were fascinated by the skulls and trying to figure out what caused them to look different or to determine what caused the injuries," she says. But keeping information age appropriate for children is important when dealing with even casts of human remains, as Black knows, so with a three-year-old girl who came up with her mom, the discussion was about "boo-boos and what people a long time ago did to make them feel better."
Philip Hoog, Curator of Archaeological Collections at the San Diego Museum of Man, found it exciting to see so many parents and children interacting with the materials his institution provided at the Family Fair and having fun doing it. "It's not everyday that you can handle artifacts and reproductions from ancient Egyptians, Maya, and the Kumeyaay people of southern California and the kids seemed to love it! They were very interested to learn more about the artifacts and had fun trying to guess what many of them were."
Shannon Black of San Diego State University shows skull casts to future bioarchaeologists.
"Our children's archaeology fair is part of the AIA's educational outreach effort to bring the thrill of scientific archaeological discovery, interpretation, and decipherment to the younger generation," says Jane C. Waldbaum, Past President of the AIA. "You can't start too young. Archaeology is an exciting field with new discoveries being made all the time. It appeals to children's imaginations," she adds. Philip Hoog agrees. "I was impressed by the dedication and creativity of the kids as they completed their archaeology art projects and their fascination with the cultural artifacts," he says. "That's a good sign for the future of archaeology!"
"I believe the Archaeology Fair is one of the most important outreach initiatives we have," says Lisa Naas. "It is unique to the AIA, bringing together in the same room, ancient cultures, time periods, art, science, history, and various archaeological concepts, ideas, and practices. It is an event where the public can get a glimpse of the exciting field of archaeology upon which the Institute is founded."
For more about the AIA Family Fair, please contact Lisa Naas, Development & Special Events, Archaeological Institute of America, 656 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02215; tel. (617) 353-8703 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The eighth annual Family Fair will be held during the AIA Annual Meeting, which is scheduled for January 3-6, 2008, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
AIA gratefully recognizes J. Donnelly Direct, Inc., sponsor of the 2007 Family Fair.
Participants in the 2007 Family Fair
Acropolis Study Centre
Sarah Morris, Steinmetz Professor of Classical Archaeology & Material Culture and Madeleine Bray & Lyssa Stapleton, Archaeology Graduate Students
Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, (UCLA) & Acropolis Restoration Service, Ministry of Culture, Athens, Greece
Archaeology at the Stein Farm
Susan Walter, Stein Farm docent & Principal of Walter Enterprises
Artifacts & Ancient Art from Tell Tuneinir, Syria
Dr. Michael Fuller, Professor & Deanna Baker, Student
St. Louis Community College & Boston University
Barona Band of Mission Indians
Diane Tells His Name, Collections Manager & Librarian
Barona Cultural Center
Bioarchaeology: Health and Trauma
Shannon Black, Graduate Student
San Diego State University
Build a Bamboo Dragonfly & Write in Cuneiform
Rosalie F. Baker & Charles F. Baker, Editors
Dig, Calliope, & Footsteps Magazines
California State Parks: Archaeology
Therese Muranaka, Associate State Archaeologist, SD Coast
California State Parks
Crossmending: How do I put the pieces together?
Raffael Hoffman, Outreach Coordinator & Tori Cranner, Registrar
San Diego Historical Society
Drawing the Bow in Antiquity
Shelley Wachsmann, Ph.D., Meadows Prof. of Biblical Archaeology
Institute of Nautical Archaeology
Becky Donahue, Programs Administrator
Archaeological Institute of America, Boston
Explore the Field of Archaeology With Museum of Man
Philip Hoog, Curator of Archaeological Collections
Geralyn Hoffman, Education Coordinator
San Diego Museum of Man
Flintknapping: Making Ancient Stone Tools
G. Timothy Gross, Ph.D., RPA, Principal Archaeologist
The Life of the Vikings
Sarah Rehrer, Student, Archaeology Department
Maya Archaeology at UCSD
Edwin B. Barnes & Geoffrey E. Braswell, Dept. of Anthropology
University of California, San Diego
Mock Dig and Artifact Identification
Trish Mitchell, 1st Vice President & Gary Fink, President
Nick Doose, Webmaster
San Diego County Archaeological Society
Pottery 101: The First Techniques
Jocelyn Boor, MS Anthropology
Milwaukee Public Museum
Annemarie Cox, Program Coordinator & Doug Wescott, Development
San Diego Archaeological Center
Sea Floor Science Program: Underwater Archaeology Port Royal 3D Computer Model
Tracy Kirby, Assistant Program Director, Maritime
Rick Baker, Senior Program Director, OEC
Stone Age Tools
Nancy Bernard, Director
Archaeological Associates of Greenwich, CT
Ms. Erin Clancey, Associate Curator of Archaeology
Skirball Cultural Center
Thinking Like an Archaeologist
Craig Lesh, Principal
Heritage Education Programs
Treasures of the Tar Pits
Dan Kroupa, Manager of Docent Programs
Page Museum of the La Brea Tar Pits
LA County Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County