Families Interact with Ancient Artifacts at Archaeology Fair

Ancient Mayan teeth and a mummified crocodile were among the artifacts featured at the Peabody Museum’s Amazing Archaeology Fair on Saturday. Harvard undergraduates and graduate students presented many of the exhibits at the annual event, which was held in partnership with the Harvard Semitic Museum.

“The goal is to share Harvard knowledge and expertise with the general public and to excite people about archaeology,” said Polly Hubbard, manager of the Peabody’s K-12 education programs and the chief organizer of the event. “We are really excited to be able to create this little portal into Harvard social science.”

Families with young children, Harvard affiliates, and local adults attending the event participated in interactive activities, such as handling dart-throwers like those used for the ancient hunting practice of Atlatl.

“It’s really fun to imagine yourself back in time and to try and put yourself in the shoes of somebody 30,000 years ago,” Hubbard said.

In addition to exhibits organized by the museums, the event featured undergraduate and graduate research. Sarah J. Martini ’16 returned to the fair for the third time to share research she is conducting in New Mexico with the goal of determining the original sizes of indigenous populations before they suffered major population losses.

Martini said she hopes to get people interested in archaeology so that they can “have the revelation that archaeology can actually influence people’s perception of important questions.”

Although he is not planning to concentrate in anthropology, Casey K. Moore ’18 presented findings from the Harvard Yard Archaeology Project, to which he contributed during a year-long anthropology course he took the previous school year. The class excavated a section of Harvard Yard and analyzed their findings. Moore’s presentation included pictures of the dig and different tools used to recover the artifacts.The class endeavored to gain insights about the Indian college that existed at Harvard in the 17th century.

Moore and his classmates considered the project a chance to share the story of a group that has been overlooked in many historical accounts of that time.

“For us this is another opportunity to...reach out to the public,” Moore said.

Needham resident Katherine K. Domoto was drawn to the event for the chance to see the “backside” of the museum.

“I think it’s a great idea to have it open...so you can ask people things rather than just looking at things,” Domoto said.

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