Can You Dig It?

UNC students building a mock excavation site

UNC students Jennifer Abamonte, left, and Petra Kordischova build one of several mock archaeological excavation sites at the Poudre Learning Center. Related: Photo gallery at end of story

Students from UNC and local public schools now have a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience and build their skills in the field of archaeology thanks to a grant and a collaborative effort between the university and the Poudre Learning Center.

A Community Foundation Littler Youth Fund grant awarded to the PLC and Andrew Creekmore, an assistant professor of Anthropology at UNC, is being used to develop a simulated archaeological dig site at the center west of Greeley.

The reusable mock archaeological excavations will fill a void left by a lack of real dig opportunities, especially ones that don't require an expedition and extended periods of time.

UNC Anthropology major Adrien Hoff, who interned at the PLC in 2010, brought together Creekmore and PLC staff to develop the project that she's now helping build.

"It's important because it will help many UNC students as well as younger students understand more about archaeology," Hoff said.

In the first phase of the project, UNC archaeology students spent several spring days building mock excavation sites under Creekmore's supervision. Artifacts from different time periods were replicated and buried so they can be excavated and reburied again and again.

The site will open this summer and will be used both by K-12 students who visit the PLC and by UNC students enrolled in an archaeological research methods class offered each spring.

After learning about key principles of archaeology in the classroom, students will then use what they learned to excavate the dig site. After the excavation, they'll take their findings back to the classroom where they can interpret them.

"Through this three-part activity the students will experience local heritage first-hand and develop a deeper sense of the place in which they learn, play and live," Creekmore said.

The second phase of the project, which will get underway in June and continue into the summer, will be the development of an archeaogeopysics test site at the PLC.

The site will be used for learning and demonstrating geophysics methods such as ground-penetrating radar that make it possible to analyze archaeological remains without large-scale excavation. The test site will be the first step in creating a similar lab at UNC for student and faculty research.

"This activity will promote an ongoing, mutually beneficial experience to students in the local community," Creekmore said.

The Poudre Learning Center uses labs, activities and trips designed to reinforce concepts taught in local classrooms, and to help students study and understand the environment around them.

For more information, contact Creekmore at 970-351-2761, or Poudre Learning Center Directory Ray Tschillard at 970-352-1267.

- Elizabeth Same, Senior Journalism Major