Archaeology and Interpretation

GRADES: 5
 
DURATION: Two sessions

MATERIALS:
 
  • Access to the internet
  • White glue
  • Terra-cotta pots (one per each group)
  • Large plastic bags
  • Small plastic tubs
  • Sand or rice
  • Markers
  • Masking tape
 

Introduction:

Archaeologists use many different types of artifacts to reconstruct our past. Pottery is one of the most common artifacts found on Indian sites. Pottery was first developed in South Carolina and Georgia along the coast during Archaic times. It eventually spread to Tennessee.
Indians used pottery vessels such as plates, bowls and bottles to cook, store and serve their food. Other clay artifacts included toys, jewelry and ceremonial pieces. The Indians made them in all shapes and sizes and with intricate designs. Some vessels were painted. These designs can tell us about the different cultures. During the Mississippian time, when the Indians were making head pots, the pottery even reveals what the Mississippians might have looked like.
 

Guiding Questions: 

  • How do archaeologists use pottery to help us learn about the past?

Objectives:  Students will 

  • Reconstruct and analyze pottery

Assessments:

  • Have students write a journal account from the perspective of a present day potter. They have been hired to make a clay vessel that represents their city or state. What are some of the designs or decorations they might want to use? Why did they choose those?

Procedure:

Session 1: Interpretation through Pottery
1.      Discuss ways in which the pottery, made by the prehistoric Indians, has provided clues about their cultures for archaeologist to interpret.
2.      Divide the students into small groups (3-4 per group). 
3.      The groups will imagine an ancient civilization and draw pictures about their culture on their pot. 
4.      The groups will then drop and break their pots and place the pieces into a plastic bag (teachers may want the students to break pot inside bag to avoid any missing pieces).
5.      Groups will switch plastic bags.
6.      Students will label each of their pottery pieces (have groups choose a 3 digit label for their group)
7.      Students begin to reconstruct their pots, beginning at the rim or base, depending on which end is the most constructible. 
8.      Use a thin layer of white glue to connect pieces. Use the masking tape to help hold the pieces together.
9.      Use the sand/rice tubs to help stabilize the pieces while they are drying.
10. Allow pieces to dry over night.
 
Session 2: Interpretation through Pottery
1.      Have students interpret the drawings on their pots.
2.      Have the students report their findings to the class. 
3.      Compare the ideas they have about the civilization to what the original group had in mind when they drew the pictures.

Standards:

  • Tennesse State Standards:
  • 1.01 Understand the diversity of human cultures.
  • 1.02 Discuss cultures and human patterns of places and regions of the world.
  • 1.03 Recognize the contributions of individuals and people of various ethnic,
    racial, religious, and socioeconomic groups to the development of civilizations.
  • 1.04 Understand the contributions of individuals and people of various ethnic,
    racial, religious, and socioeconomic groups to Tennessee.
  • 5.1.01 Understand the diversity of human cultures.
  • 5.1.02 Discuss cultures and human patterns of places and regions of the world.
  • a. Explain how art, music, and literature reflected the times during which they were
    created.
  • 3.01 Understand how to use maps, globes, and other geographic representations,
    tools, and technologies to acquire, process and report information from a spatial perspective