Archeology and Ancient Greece

I know I’ve mentioned The Archaeological Perspective here before, but we had another wonderful experience with it yesterday, and I wanted to share.

This coming April our group of homeschoolers will spend a week literally uncovering ancient Greece. The head of The Archaeological Perspective, and himself an archaeologist, will bury treasures from that magnificent era and our children will learn how to excavate the area properly. They will learn about Ancient Greek culture from a man who has experienced it through discovery. He will share his passion and his wisdom with them in a way that will keep them enthralled and eager to touch the past. And touch they will as they apply his teachings and meticulously sweep away layers of history, and gingerly lift the past into today.

The treasures they’ll handle will be a wonder to behold. To imagine these items crafted, used and discarded thousands of years ago now being held and studied with awe by our children… who knew they’d have the rare opportunity and good fortune to experience something like this?

Of course, I know about what they’ll experience because we’ve participated in two ‘digs’ already. China’s Ch’in Dynasty last spring, and Renaissance Italy this past October.

But yesterday was unique. We met our archaeologist leader at the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in New York. At the Greek and Roman exhibit, he discussed the difference between discovering history through archeology and viewing it through its art. You cannot learn about the context of items in the MET the same as you can through the archaeological perspective. As stunning and inspiring as the items are, there is no grounding, no guidance. Just beauty.

The pieces the children studied yesterday were “said to be found” at a certain location. The use of many items was “either” this or that or perhaps…  Many of the items were basically looted from archaeological sites and sold. It’s almost as if the person who unearthed these precious things, simply held them up and said, “Look what I found!” Instead, they should have catalogued them properly. Identified the items with which others were discovered. Pieced together the story of each item’s existence. Who used it? Why? For what? What does all this say about the people of the time? How does this item fit into the history of the place, of the people?

The Met has a glorious Ancient Greek exhibit. Their ancient Egypt exhibit is beyond impressive as well. But to learn the meaning behind it all, a deeper understanding of the people and the time must be had. We had that with Geoff, our archaeologist guide. The passion he has for his art drew in every child. The wonder of all he’s learned fills his every word with yearning, as if knowing all he knows is still not enough. And the children – indeed the parents as well – picked up on that desire to know more. The itch to learn, to uncover the past, to experience it dimensionally, filled us, excited us and made us eager discover more.

What a glorious experience we had yesterday – watching our children’s eyes widen with the desire to learn. Beautiful.

5 Responses to Archeology and Ancient Greece

  • Debbie, isn’t it wonderful when we as parents learn, too? Your daughter must feel your deep enthusiasm, and shared learning brings much excitement. What a wonderful learning experience for all the kids, including the parents.

  • That is awesome! I would have loved that as a kid. That sort of thing was my bag of tea. Great job doing such a constructive and exciting activity with your kids.

    Jess

  • Kathleen,
    Sharing the learning experience with our kids is a wonderful experience. We missed out on so much when Daughter was in school. We missed the ‘newness’ of it all for her and by the time she came home from school, she’d forgotten much of what she’d learned. After our museum experience the other day, we talked all the way home about what we saw, heard and felt. It was wonderful.

    ~Debbie

  • Jess,
    It is awesome. When Daughter was very young, she said she wanted to be a “bone hunter”. That was her term for archaeologist. 🙂 She’s been able to live out that dream in small ways with this program and has loved every minute of it. Confession here… we loved it, too. 😉

    ~Debbie

  • #1 son is studying ancient Egypt. I’m so excited. We’ve been watching a lot of the Discovery channel. I wish the Tut exhibit was in town, that would be cool to see. How fun to share this with your daughter.

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