The Archaeological Perspective

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.

Archaeology brings an appetite

This week starts another exciting round of homeschooling activities. Last June, Daughter participated in a thrilling event called “The Archaeological Perspective“. During that week, the children unearthed actual treasures from Ancient China. Daughter was able to realize a dream – digging like a true archaeologist, handling ancient relics, understanding the significance of other items buried with them as well as the significance of various soil types in and around a certain area. She learned all about the Ch’in Dynasty and the magnificent Terracotta Soldiers from the period.

This year, this week in fact, she will do the same with Renaissance Italy. She will spend four days with homeschooling friends. She will get down and dirty – extra dirty today since it’s raining  – and she will handle more stunning and priceless objects from a time long, long ago. She’s excited and so am I.

But along with the hard work of digging, comes and extra large need to refuel. Food, water, fruit, snacks. All the good stuff. And so, for this week – yes all week because Daughter is hooked – lunch for my Archaeological Protégé  will be a nice slice of Zucchini Quiche. Of course, a large bottle of cool water, a crisp apple or juicy pear and a handful of almonds will accompany this lunch, but the prize for her is the Zucchini Quiche itself. Her favorite food next to Baked Ziti. 🙂

And, since it’s so easy, I will not only accommodate her tastes but also share the recipe with all of you (you’ll need Bisquick).

Enjoy!

Zucchini Quiche

Preheat oven to 350°

Ingredients:

3 cups sliced and diced zucchini

1 cup Bisquick Flour

2-3 eggs slightly beaten

2 tablespoons dried parsley

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon (or to taste) black pepper

1/2 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup cubed mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Additional 1/4 cup Bisquick separate

Directions:

Grease a casserole pan with cooking spray then lightly coat with the 1/4 cup Bisquick. This will form a light crust for the quiche.

Mix all other ingredients together. Pour into prepared casserole and bake about 35-40 minutes or until brown on top.

A hearty and delicious slice of Zucchini Quiche

The Archaeological Perspective

As a fairly new homeschooling family, I’ve been amazed to discover how many learning opportunities there are for children beyond traditional book learning. We left public school at the beginning of last year and immediately began an online curriculum with teacher support. I believed there had to be structure, and to me ‘structure’ meant textbooks, essays and tests. Boy, was I wrong.

It has taken me two full ‘school’ years to fully realize book learning isn’t all there is. While we have experienced an amazingly wide range of hands-on activities – one more exciting than the other – I would have to say the best, by far, is the most recent. It’s called The Archaeological Perspective and it is a 4-day archaeological camp.

When my daughter was too young to even pronounce the word ‘archaeologist’, she knew that’s what she wanted to be. She called it being a ‘bone hunter’. She’s realized that dream this week in a very small but significant way.

During the camp, the children attending are taught a brief history of the period they will be unearthing. In this case, it is China’s Ch’in Dynasty – 3rd Century BC. Actual artifacts from that period (as well as earlier and later periods) are buried and the children are taught how to properly excavate the area, uncover stunning and fragile objects, handle them carefully and clean them thoroughly.

This is how their site was set up –

The Archaeological Perspective  Do-the-dig 2

And here are some of the remarkable artifacts they unearthed – keep in mind, these are NOT reproductions. They are the actual artifacts.

Do-the-dig 3 Do-the-Dig - 4 Do-the-dige 5 - Terra Cotta Archer Do-the-dig 6

Daughter is enthralled. She cannot wait each morning to get up and get out there to see what else she’ll discover. She’s actually handling objects made thousands of years ago – THOUSANDS of years ago!!! – and has learned the history of their creation.

After digging for three days, there will be a ‘museum’ presentation of all the artifacts the children have uncovered, and a reception with foods of the region. This is one week out of 12 1/2 years that I’ve actually been happy to have my daughter playing in dirt… and looking like she’s enjoyed every second of it.

Indiana Jones… move over, handsome… there’s a new Indy in town.

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