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Teachers - please don't touch that trowel!

Digging at a site on your own can be hazardous to history!

Archaeologists not only record where artifacts are found below the surface, but also where they are located relative to each other within each stratigraphic layer.  Archaeologists photograph or map artifacts (ceramics, glass, structural remains, shell or bone) in place before they remove them.  Meticulous record keeping is necessary to reproduce the site on paper as it is being removed from the ground.

No two archaeological sites are alike.  It takes years of specialized training to recognize a site, to learn how to "read the dirt" and then determine how an excavation should be conducted.

It is extremely important that a controlled, systematic excavation be conducted by a knowledgeable, reputable professional. So if you teach about archaeology, please don't include excavations as part of your class. Teaching students to dig without the supervision of a professional archaeologist will encourage site vandalism.  The amount of time and preparation it takes to excavate, analyze, and interpret a site exceeds the amount of class time you can devote to this type of project.  And there is a possibility that you and your class could inadvertently disturb an historic or prehistoric site if you elect to do your own dig.

Teachers, you should also be aware that it is unlawful in Kentucky to excavate an archaeological site on school grounds or other public lands without an antiquities permit from the Office of State Archaeology at the Department of Anthropology, University of Kentucky in Lexington.  Teachers wishing to plan student participation projects involving excavation of an archaeological site should arrange for students to attend field schools or volunteer in excavations under the direction of a professional archaeologist.

If you or your students think you have discovered a historic or prehistoric site, you should report it to the Kentucky Archaeological Survey by filling out a site survey form or contacting A. Gwynn Henderson, Kentucky Archaeological Survey archaeologist/education coordinator, at 859-257-1919.


Last Updated 1/30/2010