Today was our trip to the University of Bradford! Everyone was looking forward to it.
So we walked the short distance to the University where we were greeted by 4 students who had take time out of their studies to produce and deliver a session for us on the human skeleton. As we were greeted everybody was handed a lab coat which we donned to enter the bone lab.
After a quick introduction what tasks we were to going to do today, we go to it. The group was split into groups of 3 and they were all given a plastic skeleton, which they had to reconstruct. To help there were complete skeletons nearby, a bit like big versions of Billy Bones who the learners loved. Z was quite take with him and A insisted on giving the skeleton a handshake as it was nice to meet him. They also have 1 expert student each who would help them out. It was tough work because all the bones look very similar but everybody had managed to put their skeleton together by the end of the lesson. L said she liked the knee bones best after I told her they wandered about sometime when a person was buried and ended up no where near the knees. It was good for the learners who could see the bones and visualise what their bones were like and which part of the body they were. This took up most of the lesson but everyone helped.
Each student had a worksheet which they coloured in the parts of the body they added as they reconstructed their skeleton, which we could put in their portfolios. We were also able to look as some of the diseases on the bones, we checked their teeth and saw that some of the skeletons hadn’t been very good at brushing their teeth as they had caries. We also looked at some of the legs which were bowed and not straight like they should have been. The students were able to show us some real bones which were very diseased, some with legs bent at 90° and others with broken bones which had healed incorrectly. L didn’t like the look of the badly broken leg.
We also had the opportunity to look at some X rays and the learners were able to point out what was wrong with these bones. They were all fascinated by the X ray pictures because they were really cool and interesting.
After that we returned back to the centre for lunch. Next week we will be learning about the Medieval period, including castles and churches.
A huge thank you to everyone at the University who made us so welcome. The students loved this visit.
Session 13: Vikings
This week we again started with the poster as usual to document what we had done in the last session. Everyone had a photograph of themselves wearing their mask. For the day we welcomed James to our session, he works as a Community Archaeologist Placement in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
This week we were looking at Vikings. I began by asking what the group knew already about Vikings. A made some swishy noise and replicated a sword which was right, since Vikings were fearsome warriors, and T also said boats. When I showed the group a picture of Thor a few of them recognised him, N and E said they had both seem him on the telly. L said Thor looked like James – which he was well chuffed about!
We looked next at where the Vikings came from, so of the group had heard of Demark and Norway were familiar with them. But for the rest of the group I explained that the Vikings liked to sail and travelled to as far away as North America in their ships. They also used their boats to raid. When I explained that I mentioned that some of the warriors filed their teeth to appear more ferocious. Sharon was surprised by this but L giggled when she said their dentist wouldn’t be very happy with them.
We then moved on to looking at where the Vikings lived when they came to England. So we searched for some local placements such as Whitby, Sowerby and Weatherby, all of which end in –by meaning town. In Bradford we found Kirkgate, Ivegate and Westgate, -gate means road to the Vikings and R nodded in knowledge of the names of the road. Then we looked at Thor again and how different groups identify with him: nowadays we see him as a glossy cool ancient god, in the recent past he was a man with a long beards and a winged helmet but the Viking depiction of Thor is a small figurine with a hammer but no horned or winged helmets. We also discussed how the Vikings gods and goddesses influences the days of the week.
In terms of the archaeology of Vikings, we briefly looked at some of the finds the Vikings are associated with; one of which are decorated bone combs. The group we then set the task of decorating their own comb and some of the creations the learners were the height of luxury. There were bones which were different colours, some with stripes, some which waves but by far the favourite design the learners focused on were circles and dots.
We then looked at Viking ships: the different kinds and different uses. Some of the boats would sail around the world, to Greenland and Iceland; whilst others were just for pleasure. Archaeologist can date Viking ships through a technique called dendrochronology or tree ring dating. So this was a perfect opportunity to introduce the learners to it.
So out came two massive blocks of wood to show the learners what tree rings were; every one was able to point out the tree rings and satisfied that everyone knew what dendrochronology could do and what a tree ring looked like I handed them a worksheet each to test their knowledge. The worksheet had tree rings on it and the group had to count the rings to see how old the tree was. When they were done I asked them all to shout out loud what age the tree was. They were all right!
Moving on there was a bit more about boast to learn, such as burial right including boats like the Scar Boat burials and other less well known ones in Scotland. But we also talked about the Up Helly Aa festivals. I asked the group to say Up Hellya Aa for me and some giggled because they couldn’t say it. Up Helly Aa is the fire festival on Shetland that burns a replicate ship each year in honour of Viking traditions.
Since we had spent the last part of our class looking at ships we thought we would make some. Each learner was given a sheet of tin foil, a drinking straw, some paper and blue tac. With a bit of help and guidance they all managed to make a tin foil ship with a mast, of all different sizes and with different coloured sails. Then we filled up washing up bowls and tested out their buoyancy. All of them floated and we only had one capsize and one minor leak. It was brilliant!
Next week we are to have a visit to the Department of Archaeology at the University of Bradford.
Session 12: Festivals
We started as usually with our poster to document what we had done the session before. Everyone had been give the chance to have photograph of themselves with the mummy we had made and the pyramid. The learners like to be reminded of what they did the previous week and are excited to find a photograph of themselves.
This was the last session before Christmas, so the topic of this week’s lesson was on “Festivals”. So we started off by looking and different types of festivals we celebrate nowadays. We looked at religious festivals; such Christmas, Eid and Diwali, some of which our learners celebrated and I got them to tell us a bit about the festival and how they celebrate it. But we also looked at cultural festivals like bonfire night, New Years Eve and Halloween, all of which we celebrate but which are not religious festivals. A number of the group said they gather to see fireworks on bonfire night and some went to parties for New Years Eve and others went trick or treating at Halloween. It helped for the learners to be able to identify with some festivals so they could understand why people in the past might celebrate different things.
We looked briefly as the Winter Solstice as a festival that people used to celebrate in prehistory. We looked at Newgrange Cairn which was specially built so that the sun would illuminate the inside of the burial chamber at the Winter Solstice. L thought this idea was wonderfully.
We moved on then to look a bit at Christmas, since that was a festival everyone in the room was familiar with. We looked at the origin of the tree and the ornaments as well as what people in the past did at Christmas; for instance Romans would hang evergreen around at New Year to signal rebirth and many people hung wreaths of Holly and Ivy on
their doors to keep away witches.
The next task was to make some of our own Christmas decoration; paper chains! But these were paper chains with a different, they were also a timeline. The task set for the learners was to create a paper chain but put the timeline in the right chronological order. They did a fantastic job and all did it right with only minimal help, despite the sticky tape malfunction part way through.
We next looked at what we find in the archaeological record for festivals, which is surpringly little. But we can infer much from archaeology for celebration and festivals. For instance buildings can tell archaeologist what gods people worships and which festivals are connected with them. We looked at the Roman Temple of Mithras at Hadrians Wall and the monastary at Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds, both of which are relgious site and both of which are very distinctive festivals associated with a particular deity. T remembered Mithras from the Roman lecture and nodded his head in recognition. We also looked at artefacts to see how people celebrated. Gravegoods are used at the celebration of someone passing on itno the next life. We looked at one artefacts which AS though was a trumpet but was infact a drinking horn, which Iron Age people were very fond of as they held lots of feast and drank a lot of wine at these events to celebrate. Then we looked at landscapes and how they can be percieved as relatining to celebrations; ancient woodlands were important to celtic pagans and they usually had shrines dedicated to gods in woodland, we know which woodlands are ancient because they generally tend to be bluebell woods also. But bogs and watery places also held a signifcance for the Iron Age people; we find votive offering and bog bodies relating to this period and the best explaination for these are through ritual festivals which require this sort of activity. Finally we looked at relgious symbols which can indicate who might celebrate a certain festival at a certain time. This can be demonstrated by the Vikings; archaeologist in Norwary have found little effiges of Thor a pagan God but the Vikings eventually convert and become Christain and this can be seen in graffiti where Vikings have eteched cross into stones and accompanied it with Viking runes.
Having sucessfully completeted this task we moved on. We looked a few picture of masks and how they are used in celebration such as Aztec mask used in ceremonies and Ventitian masks used at the big masqurade festivals they host in Venice. Now we were gonna make our own celebratory masks for a festival. A lot of the group chose to do a christmas mask with presents and trees but AS and Z both chose to do Eid masks with Eid Mubarak and gifts drawn on the masks. M mask had a picture of Santa on it and N had all his family on his mask. Then a hole was put in each side of the masks and a string looped through. Each learner was excited to try on their masks – Z in particular loved this part!
After this each learner
was given a worksheet and asked to draw a festival they particpated in. As an example I showed them the sheet I had done. I celebrated bonfire night by going to see a bonefire and fireworks which my friends and family,making sure I wrap up in gloves, scarf and a hat. R chose to write about the celebrations they have at her church whilst H talked about her mums birthday which she celbrates and S, like me, did bonfire night too.
Overall we had a fab session and topped it off with a mince pie each. We will have a break for Christmas and return in the New Year with a session on Vikings.
Session 11: Egyptians
We began with our poster as usual and it was filled with lovely pictures of the Roman mosaics the group had made the week before. We were at the halfway stage of our course and this week we were learning about Egyptians. When I asked the group what they thought when I said ‘Egyptians’ T and A both said mummies and pyramids, the pair had both seen ‘The Mummy’ the film.
So firstly we looked at the pyramid, a very famous reminder of what the ancient Egyptians could achieve. It was discussed how each ruler want a tomb bigger than the last ruler and wanted to take riches with them to the next life, to which T replied ‘gold’. The pyramid can be seen from space amazingly, and they are the only one of the ancient wonders which still exist. Luckily I had a prop to demonstrate some of the traits of a pyramid, a playmobil pyramid, with secret passages and entrances. The learners all thought this was awesome! Especially when AS got to press a button and find a secret passage.
We briefly looked at how the Egyptians also decorated the inside of their pyramids with murals and statues and hieroglyphics. This all lead to the learners decorating their own pyramid, though it was the outside of a miniature paper pyramid not a real one. There were a variety of designs from ancient Egyptians
symbols and hieroglyphics to a more modern approach of love hearts. T put a musical note on his because he is a music fan and N drew his how family on the pyramid and the Egyptians used to have images of their families on the murals also. Once these were all decorated we stood them all upright so that they could each admire their handiwork.
We then turned back to the presentation to learn a bit about mummies and in particular Tutankhamun. We learnt that only the very rich were made into mummies but that your pet could also be made into a mummy to come with you into the afterlife. We then learnt more about Tutankhamun, who was only 9 years old when he became pharaoh. We discussed how he died because some think he was murdered, other think his death was an accident and some even think he was terminally ill. But we decided it was probably just and accident after falling off a chariot. We then told the learners about the Mummy’s Curse, some of the learners looked a bit fearful whilst others looked excited to learn about a curse.
But with all this talk of mummies, we thought why not make a mummy! So out came Billy bones, he had come for a visit in week 4 when we had learnt about bones, this week he had returned to be made into a mummy. So first we removed his brain, fortunately for Billy not through his nose, and E looked after this. Then we removed his intestines, his stomach, his liver and his lungs with various learners looked after these. A real mummy would have had canopic jars which these organs would have been placed into. As the organs were removed we went through which jar they were put in and who looked after them. So the intensities went to the
falcon, the liver when to the human, the stomach when to the jackal and the lungs went to the baboon.
Next we had to wrap him up and in the absence of linen we decided to use toilet roll. It took a few learners to do this. This was time consuming and difficult, both Billy’s feet fell off in the process. Once he was wrapped, L decided she had enjoyed wrapping Billy up and started then to wrap up Louise, who proclaimed, “I’m not dead yet!” which sent everyone giggling. We put amulets for good luck into his
wrappings and then put a pharaoh’s mask on him and Billy was all done.
Having done so well, we set the learners the task of putting the right pictures of organs into the right picture of the canopic jars. I thought this might be challenging the learners but they all did it with relative ease. Then they all wanted their picture taken with billy as a pharaoh.
Next week we will be looking at festivals in the last session before we break for Christmas.
Session 10: Romans
We started the session again by doing the poster with photographs from the week before; we even put some examples of the pictures people had drawn on their houses so that everyone could see them.
Once it was complete we got on with the session which this week was on Romans. We started by discussing the Roman invasion and how Iron Age people lived in Britain before the Romans came. When it came to roundhouses, AS remembered learning about them before. L pointed out that the Celtic man with blue hair looked funny and joked that I had sticky up hair like him too! We discussed where Romans came from and how they came to be in Britain; saying that there were people from North Africa and Poland as well as from Italy. There were no aeroplanes or cars in the Roman period so the people who came from other parts of the empire would have had to walk and take a boat to get to Britain. This was quite astonishing to some of the group who noticed how far it was.
We also looked at how we know the Romans were in Britain and we did this by looking at some of the artefacts and sites the Romans left behind. Putting some pictures up on the presentation a few of the group recognised some artefacts; T pointed out the shoes which were made of leather and of which a surprising number arise in Britain from the Roman period and AS pointed out the coin.
When the coin was mentioned Louise produced two Roman coins so the group could have a look at some real Roman coins. On one the face of the emperor could be seen. We also looked at a Samian bowl, which was whole. I explained that this was quite lucky and that most of the time you would only find bits of bowls like this, not only that but to afford a bowl you would have to be quite wealthy.
We moved onto sites that Romans had left behind and which archaeologists now find. Such as the fort at York, Roman Villas around the countryside and the Roman Baths in Bath. The description of a bath made some of the group giggle when they realised that taking a bath was an occasion. A brought up the comparison of taking a bath in a tin bath which you had to fill from a kettle in from of the fire because there were no bathrooms. We also talking about Hadrian Wall because this is probably the most famous Roman monuments in the UK.
We briefly when through what the Romans gave us also; such as roads, central heating and their language. Sharon then pointed out that A knew all his Roman numerals, which the group then asked if he could recite a few and A obliged by said ‘i is 1, ii is 2, iii is 3, V is 5 and X is 10’. It was very impressive.
Having talked about what buildings the Romans had left behind, we decided to build our own villa. It was explained that most villas would have been whitewash with red tiled roofs and windows and doors that face inwards into a courtyard. The villa we built even had a shrine outside of the building. But not only that but we thought we should make mosaics to decorate our villa. We used quality street wrappers so that our mosaics would seem even more expensive if they were laced
with gold and silver. Everyone had different ides for their mosaics; A decided, since he was good at Roman numerals he was going to do a mosaic around a IV and a number of the group did the first letter of their name, L did a little mosaic garden with flowers and a fountain.
When all the moasics were done and the villa filled with them it looked very grand indeed and fit for an Roman dignitary.
As a finishing off activty we did a little task that involved redressing a Roman solider. We gave the class a sheet which had a paper Roman soldier and his clothes also and they had to cut out and stick on his clothes in the right order. This proved slightly difficult for some but they had fun nevertheless. Once they were more or less completed we popped them in our villa so it looked inhabited.
Next week we will be looked at the Egyptians, pyramids and their mummies.
Session 9: My Bradford
This week we started with poster to demonstrate the fun we had had the previous week with making butter. It had been so much fun!! Some of the group had declared they would try it again sometime; our support work Sharon had gone home and tried but told us she had accidently shook it too much. We wanted to get started as soon as possible because the group were going on a trip to the town hall that afternoon. As this was going on, Louise went round and attached everyone’s textile weaving into their portfolio.
This week the session was titles My Bradford and was a study of the history of Bradford, a place all the learners were familiar with. We started with a quick story about a boar that terrorised Bradford, but a huntsman killed it a ridded the town of the boar and that is why on top of the Bradford Coat of arms there is a boars head. None of the group knew this story but they all said they would keep a look out when they went to the town hall this afternoon to see if they could find a coat of arms and if they could see the boar head on the top of it.
We also looked at prominent places of Bradford’s past, such as Bolling Hall, the Alhambra and the numerous mills; all of which most of the group had been too. A few of the learners got a bit spooked when we told them of the ghost that haunted Bolling Hall. L said she had been to Bolling Hall many a time and AS said he and other had visited the industrial museum and seen how mills work. We also looked at some picture of mills from the past. A was shocked when we looked at a picture of two 13 year old girls and was informed that they couldn’t go to school at that age because they had to work. There was one great picture of a mill floor with Christmas decorations hanging from the ceiling.
We also briefly looked at the industries Bradford was involved with in the past. The whole group agreed that textiles was a big one, with wool being the biggest, and L pointed out the sheep on the presentation. A was correct when he said mining also, it took a while for the group to understand what people in the past might have been mining for. A eventually came up with coal, like the kind put in a fire to keep people warm. Louise also said it was used to work steam trains. Bradford was also famous for tanning and shoemaking; a process the learners weren’t familiar with, so it required a brief explanation.
Following this we set up an activity with involved looking at old maps. Looking at 3 different maps of Bradford, from 1720, 1850 and 2013, we played a mini spot the difference with them to see how Bradford had changed. We could see the difference in the number of houses and the way they were drawn. The learners got to keep they sheet to look at later if they so wished. We also played spot the difference in the photos, placing them in the old or new Bradford piles. We looked at how trains and train station look now and then and how streets and clothing changing across time. A noticed the difference in trains and AS could tell us that the National Media Museum was made out of glass and metal and not bricks like in the past. The group were very good at saying which old were old and which were new, chorusing their response when I asked.
We then briefly looked and what people might associate with Bradford now. I showed them something I though Bradford represented. T pointed out the Bradford Bulls Rugby League emblem, whilst A excited noticed the fountains in city park. Some other saw the town hall, obviously excited about their trip later that day. I also showed them Akbar, one of the best known restaurants in Yorkshire and where many of the group had been before; after all Bradford is known as the Curry Capital. The Morrisons logo was also up there because Morrisons Supermarket started in Bradford and AS told us the story that Mr Morrisons started with just eggs in the market and then had the idea to sell other foods also, which no else in the class knew, not even myself and Louise.
Since this session was about Bradford we decided to get the learners to draw their houses and families and write a bit of a description about it. We had some great pictures; some people just drew their parents and siblings and other had everybody who lived in their house! L pages was full of people, parents, brothers and sisters and even her 2 cats and 2 dogs and her goldfish! Z wanted to draw his garden because he liked his garden as it was big and full of flowers. A pictures was unbelievably detailed, with all the individual tiles on the roof drawn and all the bricks. E drew his cat gingers as well as his mum and brother and R wrote a
detailed description of her house. The pictures and descriptions were amazing! Some of the learners finished this quickly and so were also given a sheet with the boars head on to colour in and stick in their books.
By the looks of it the learners had a lot of fun drawing their houses and being able to say who lived there and what they liked about it. But they also had the skill to see difference in maps and old photographs which was a useful skill for archaeologists.
Next week we learn about the Romans and build our own villa!
Session 8: Food
We started again with our poster, it is always good doing this because the learners are reminded of the week before as well as looking through photographs of themselves and the rest of the group undertaking activities. They always like to keep one or two of themselves to put in their portfolios.
This week we were learning about food; what food people used to eat in the past and how archaeologists know. So we began by explain that in the past people could go down to the shops if they were hungry; they had to either go hunt or farm their foods, T helped to remind us about these activities from previous sessions.
We started by look at what animals people ate in the past, who ate them and how archaeologists know; through cave paintings, artefacts such as oyster shells and farm buildings. This then led on to how meat was processed in the past. We explained about how flints were used in hunting as arrow and spear head, and that other types of flint were used like knives are used today to cut the meat. To help show the learners what flint tools were like we showed them both an axe head and some microliths which they could handle to show them what it would have been like in the Neolithic to hunt and process the meat caught. Z showed us how an axe was used to chop meat, and Sharon, our support worker, was amazed at how tiny the microliths were.
We moved onto what plants people ate in the past. We saw items such as burnt grains, plough scarring and a scythe. The learners were amazed to see a picture of some bread from Pompeii that was over 2000 years old. Initially D thought this was a cake not a loaf of bread, the idea of archaeological caked sounded appealing to most of the group. We then discussed how flour and bread was made; by collecting the heads of head and grinding them using a quern, which makes flour. This is then used to make dough and cooked to made bread. The learners sounded very intrigued by this.
We moved onto utensils, because this also gives archaeologist clues about what foods people ate and how they went about eating them. The learner pointed out the horn quickly, though they were unsure as to what it was. But it was the coca cola bottles most of them liked, which had morphed in style and shape since 1899. We also saw a picture of brick built over; this was interesting to AS, he informed the group that he had one of those in the cellar of his house. We looked at a few examples of what archaeologist might find which could give clues about utensils people used in the past. The group were shown a vessel which might have held ale or some sort of drink. They tried to guess what it was and T correctly guessed at pottery, which would have been what most people had used then rather than the glass like we use today. We also looked at a very corroded piece of metal, which R correctly identified as once being a knife, which may have used to eat with.
So now the learners had been given an idea about what archaeologist can tell about what people ate in the past. We decided we might do a small bit of our own discovery and create our very own Grange Interlink Shop. We gave all the learners flashcards with various food on; some were from nowadays and in modern packaging, some were what people would have found in the past. We set up a basket and a plastic shopping basket as our past and present shops. The using the flashcards had to
place the correct one in the correct place; basket for the past, plastic bag from now. The learner struggled slightly with this but it was a difficult challenge. We had everything from wild pig and sausage to tins of pear half and fresh pears. But eventually we got there and all of the cards found their way to the right basket.
After this success we had an activity which we thought most would like; butter marking. L groaned because she knew this was likely to make a mess. We all made sure we washed our hands and then split into two teams and began to get ready
for the race to make butter; each took it in turn to pour a little double cream into a jar. Once all of it was in the jar we sealed them tightly and began to shake. Each learner had a go and we timed how long it took. E had a special shaking dance he did whenever it was his go to have a shake and L joined him in the dance. M and H both decided instead of shaking they would try a rolling technique to jiggle the cream to make butter. All the learners cheered and encouraged on their team.
18 minutes later we had two jars of butter and buttermilk! But the best way to test our butter was of course to eat it, an idea T liked because he enjoyed his lunchtime.
Next week we look at Bradford more closely.
Session 7: Textiles
When everyone had arrived we got to making the poster, as we did every week. This week however, we added pictures of the objects the learners had drawn the week before so that everyone would be able to see their handy work. D loved the picture of herself in a witch’s hat because she had enjoyed wearing it the week before.
Once the poster was done, we had a surprise for the learners. This week we had brought along with us their cress cropmarks for session 5. They were a great success! Some of the cress had grown really high in areas where there was cotton wool buds and plenty of moisture retained. It had grown less well in the areas were it had been sown on rocks and where moisture was not retained. The learners were very happy with these, some joking that they might have cress sandwiches for lunch.
This week the session was about textiles. It was explained that archaeologist as a rule done generally find many textiles but … that’s not to say we don’t at all! The learners were shown quite a few example of what textiles archaeologist had found. All the learners, and even Louise, an experienced archaeologist, was surprised to find that people in Austria in the Bronze Age had worn nettle clothing. The learners also got very animated when they learnt that Vikings had textiles from bears, bison and seals. A was right in saying that bears skins would be worn as coats to keep people warm in winter.
Next we looked at textiles people have
today with example of each type; silk, cotton, leather, wool and fur and we went through what animals and plants give us these textiles. Almost everyone knew a sheep gave wool but not many knew silk worms produced silk. For each textile the group were shown an item, such as for silk the group we shown a silk scarf and able to touch it to feel the textile. E liked the scarf because it was soft. AS mentioned how he knew what silk worms were because in Pakistan they come out in hot weather. What the group liked even more was the faux-fur gilet which was passed round; Z stroked it and N kept hold of it for quite a while because it was so soft.
To test the learners knowledge they were given a worksheet for their portfolios and were tasked to match the textiles we had looked at with the right animal and plant
it was produced from. Everyone seemed fine with sheep, cow and surprisingly silk worms, however the wolf and the cotton plants gave them a bit of trouble. However, everyone managed to get all of the correct picture in the correct spot.
Now the learners knew more about textiles it was thought we could advance slightly and look at Bradford and how the textile
industry had affected it. The past of it was covered briefly; starting as weaving and spinning in home to mass machine production in factories. Quite a few of the group mentioned how they had been to the Bradford Industrial Museum and seen machines like the ones pictured, L said how they machines were very noisy. Then we looked at two factories that the learners might recognise; Manningham Mills and Salts Mills. Some of the group recognised both of the mills. Having talked about silk worm, Manningham Mills seemed quite relevant, being the largest silk manufactures in the world at one point. But we also discussed Salts Mill, Saltaire, which was known for textiles produced from Alpaca wool. None of the group knew what an Alpaca was when asked; but when they saw a picture of it they thought it looked like a camel without a hump.
Since we had now learnt a lot about textiles we thought we should give weaving a go. All their group had a go on the big weave board first, each doing a line and then were given their own smaller weaving boards. They all picked from a range of colours so that their weaving patterns would be colourful. Sometimes it was hard for some of the group to remember the under-and-over technique for weaving but it meant everyone’s weaving board was unique and interesting. Some of the end results were lovely both A and H were very and neat and precise have
both used blue and green. S had zoomed trough her weaving board almost completing it entirely. They were all very proud of their weaving.
Next weeks session is on food and will involve foraging.
Session 6: 300 objects
As usual once the group had all arrived and were ready to get going, we started on the poster to demonstrate what the learners had studied the previous week before when the session as ‘How we find things?’. The poster looked great once it was done.
This week was a session titled 300 objects and we had asked the previous week that members of the class bring in an item important to them; some remembered but Louise had come prepared armoured with a range of items for those who had forgotten to choose one they liked the look of. D instantly saw the witch’s hat and then preceded to wear it for the entire session, it transpires that she liked to make her own hats. We were going to use these items to show the class and say why they were important to us and why we had chosen them. In addition we also want the learners to offer ideas of what they might think future archaeologists might think of these objects if they were lost and dug up in a 100 years.
As the learners talked about their items as we filmed them. There were such a range of item; a list of favourite cars from A, a photograph of L’s family, A bony M CD from T, a book brought in by N, and a workbook that AS had completed from another WEA course. All these things were very important to the learners because they reminded them of memories and personalities. After they had each spoken about their item, we thought about what archaeologists might think their item was in the future. A and Louise discussed the what an archaeologist might think if they found his list of his favourite cars in the future they might think he owned every since one – and there were a lot on his list! AS showed everyone his workbook flicking through it to show us pictures of his best friend and other who took the course and then said how an archaeologist would wonder who these people were and why they are all in pictures together.
Those members of the group who did not have an item with them were given the chance to pick an object of their choosing from Louise. Z picked a toy knight’s helmet, S choose a soft toy rabbit, H selected a plush heart badge, E some Russian dolls, D a magnifying glass and M a sparkly bracelet. As a group we talked about why they had choose it. Some reason for picking these were; it reminded them of love and their boyfriend, the learner had seen the item on the telly and one picked just because they didn’t know what the item was. So what would archaeologist think of these items if they were dug up in future; S thought they might think the toy rabbit was a toy dog not a rabbit at all; E thought they might wonder why the small Russian doll was missing (Louise son had misplaced it); M’s sparkly bracelet might have once belonged to a very rich person who could afford such finery.
To demonstrate what the group had told use about their items, they were given a My Artefact worksheet to fill in which discussed the meaning of their object and why it was important. They were also asked to draw a picture; a lot of the group traced about their artefacts.
Having completed this sheet, there was time to do a bit of painting. So those who wanted to each painted a clay bead that a few of the group had made several weeks before. Some painted them red, others a shimmery blue and one or two covered them in glue and rolled them in glitter to create an array of beautifully decorated bead.
Session 5: How do we find things?
This week there were a lot of difficult concepts to grasp as we were going to look at aerial photography and geophysical surveying which are tough subjects to tackle. However the learners did there best to grapple with them and a few of them were able to demonstrate what they had learnt later in the class. We were missing a few regulars this week, but a few late arrivals made up the numbers.
We started by making a poster of the previous week; it is a nice recap of what happened the previous week and a good opportunity for the learners to be able to see the photographs that were taken. Z was very happy with the photo that was take of him and me holding up his worksheet in session 4, he was very proud of the work he had achieved that week.
So we kicked of the lesson by describing what aerial photography was, were an aeroplane few over the landscape taking photographs. When M heard the word plane she instantly though of Sharon, one of our regular support workers, who was not with us today because she was on holiday and had travelled to her holiday destination by plane. I went on to explain how by looking at the photographs, archaeologists can identify sites and monuments by varying colours of crops. Positive and negative crops marks identify where ditches and walls are underneath the group and can be seen on the photographs. The shapes can also help us to hazard a guess at what it might be; a circular shape might suggest Iron Age because they live in roundhouse and a square shape might suggest a Roman building. A said he knew the square shape was a building because he could see it in the aerial photographs.
Once this was covered we had a worksheet for the learners to have a go at; it was quite challenging and most of the learners needed a bit of help. The worksheet was going to go in their portfolios and consisted of three crop marks and three structures which had made the crop marks. However they all managed to complete the sheet despite the difficulties.
Next we move briefly on to talk about geophysics. The easiest way to explain this is that geophysics is like taking and x-ray underground to create a picture of what is there. We didn’t linger on this because it is a very hard theory to understand.
So we moved on to how old photographs can be used to see differences between the past and present. Show the group a number of old and new photographs from areas in Bradford they had to ‘spot the difference’ between the two. Everybody found at least one difference between the photographs; T noticed how there were
horses and carts on the road rather than the bus, E noticed how car barriers were not present in the older photos and R noticed the phone box is the new photo which wasn’t there in the old. Some of the photos were really old, one was even from 1890. Once the learners had circles as many differences as they could find they could the sheet in their portfolios.
The next activity was the really fun stuff. To try and demonstrate how crop marks are created using cress seeds. The learners showed their creative side here and using yogurt pots, cotton wool buds, paper towels and curtain rings they help to create a landscape for their cress to grow on. They seemed to have great fun do this and some like H and N really enjoyed making their landscapes. Once they were created each learner watered their landscapes and added the cress to them. We will return to the cress crop marks in a few weeks time to see if they were a success.
The learners did well this week, trying to understand hard concepts but they all more or less seemed to grab a basic knowledge of what crop marks are and what they can tell archaeologists.
Session 4: Bones
This week bones were the topic of the session and all the learners were excited
about this; some had mentioned they had wanted to learn about bones. The excitement was heightened more with the entrance of Billy Bob Skeleton! The learners though he was amazing, but probably a bit cold and too thin without his skin on. Louise explained that Billy Bob Skeleton was not a full sized skeleton and was probably only the same size as an eight year old child.
Before we got down to learning about bones the group had to first produce their poster from the previous week about chronology and timelines.
Once everyone was settled and ready to learn we began by introducing all the different body parts to the learners, we did this very briefly as all of them knew the parts already. But to test how much they did know about bones and which body part they were, we played a quick game of Simon Says. As I called out parts of the body, all the learners rushed to touch them. It was a good game and all the learners took part, they all knew where the different parts of the bodies were.
Having conquered the parts of the body, it was decided to try something slightly trickier and try to identify animals bone; which animal each bone belonged to and what part of the body was it. For this there were also flashcards to help out; some had parts of the body written on and others had animals on them. We had common animals like cat and horses as well as the less common ones like hedgehogs and foxes! We spent some time looking at all the different types of bones including jaws and legs and even toes. Through discussion with one another and a group discussion nearly all the animals and their body parts were identified, even the hedgehog jaw was correctly identified. A lot of the times Billy Bob Skeleton could be used compare parts of his body and the bones that had been presented to the learners, this how both a cat leg and a dog legs were decided correctly upon. The learners struggled a bit when presented with a horses hoof, not quite realising what it was and that Billy Bob Skeleton did not possess a bone which looked anything like it. They were amazed when they discovered what it really was. L decided she was going to check to really see if Billy Bob Skeleton had the same feet as she did but removing one of his feet.
Having figure out what all the different animals were we moved on to teeth. We learnt about carnivores, herbivores and omnivores, giving the learners and example of each and asking them what they ate. R was able to correctly say that herbivores ate grass and T agreed that humans must be omnivores if we eat meat and vegetables. When asked what pig ate, L promptly told the class ‘bacon’ which everyone thought was funny, but had to be explained that pigs did not eat bacon. Louise took the head off Billy Bob Skeleton to show it around so everyone could see his teeth, however, this did not sit well with a few squeamish learner. We looked at a number of teeth and tried to decide if they were herbivores or carnivores and which animal they belonged to. This worked well and some faired better than others, it was made easier when Louise handed out a worksheet that the learners could put in their portfolio which had all the different shapes of teeth as well as some of the animals which had each type. A was able to very quickly recognise a sheep tooth after been showed it but he struggled a bit with identifying a horses tooth and so did many in the group. T correctly matched a sharp carnivore tooth to a dog, firstly having guessed cat which was not far off since cats and dog have very similar teeth both being carnivores, but he wasn’t the only one to get this tooth right so did N and R. E was able to match any tooth given to him to the sheet which was great. This activity was a tricky one but the learners did really well and by the end knew much more that was expected.
Satisfied that the group were comfortable with teeth it was time to make a skeleton!! These worksheets would end up in the learner’s portfolios as evidence of what they had learnt in the session but also showcase their artistic skills. Each learner was give a paper coffin, bits of a paper skeleton and some pictures of gravegoods; their job was to reconstruct the skeleton and put him in the coffin, with optional gravegoods. Again this was a challenge for some, some skeletons ended up with shorter legs and arms than intended but for the most part everyone got most of the skeleton right. Nearly everyone made sure their skeleton had gravegoods, they had very rich burials. All the learners did very well this week, with lots of information and some difficult tasks required of them and all in all they did a great jobs.
Session 3: Chronology and Timelines
The group expanded greatly with week with 6 new learners as well as the 7 regulars. This made for a very crowded room. We started by making the poster from last week to demonstrate what had been learnt in the pottery lecture. This help our new learners see what had be achieved and learnt last week and what wonderful pots everyone had made. The poster looked really good when it was finished and L kept everyone busy by cutting out dozen of pictures and handing them to different people. H and M were so proud of the pots they made last week they both cut out two pictures of themselves to put in their portfolios.
The lesson started slowly with an explanation about chronology and timelines. This was a difficult concept to grasp but as the session continued, more and more of the learners seem to understand it. The learners learnt about the order of which time went from the Neolithic to Bronze Age, then the Iron Age to Roman, Viking/Saxon to Medieval, finishing with the Victorian and Modern day. This was also explain by looking as artefacts directly associated with this periods and what the people may have looked like and where they lived.
So we started at the beginning with the Neolithic. Both D and N wanted to know what one artefact in particular was after being shown a picture of some antlers. M was right when she said that Neolithic people live in caves and A also identified arrowheads from the previous sessions he had been to. The new learners we told that we couldn’t go down to the supermarkets to get dinner but had to go out and hunt it; so if you wanted chicken for dinner you would have to go out a shoot a chicken with your bow and arrow. Next was the Bronze Age and we learnt that Bronze Age people lived in roundhouses with grassy roofs. We were all interested to learn from AK that there were house similar to this still in Pakistan. L however joked that some of the group might still live in houses with grassy roofs. Next we learnt about the Iron Age and we learnt that Iron Age people liked to paint themselves and lived in roundhouses also.
We moved on to the Romans and learnt about mosaics and Samian pottery. We then moved on to Viking/Saxons which T was very pleased to hear about. When we discussed a Viking ice-skate the whole group we amazed, who knew ice-skating was a hobby Vikings had! A few of the group, A especially like the axe and when it was mentioned A said ‘Tiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmmmbbbbbbeeerrrr!” to demonstrate what its use was for and everybody laughed. Then we took a look at the Medieval period, with A and T very quick to notice that the example of the Medieval person was wearing armour and that some might live in a castle at that time. We looked also looked at the Victorians. There were a picture of marbles which AK identified correctly and a clay pipe with N recognised. E when on to say pipes similar to the one shown were still used in India. Quite a few of the group noticed that the picture shown of Victorian houses looked like a lot of the houses around the centre which were we mostly terrace with small gardens. Now only modern was left and everyone in group could identify the artefacts shown as being modern.
As we went through the presentation we were also setting up a timeline on a washing line so the learners could see as we went through time from the past to the present. Z was excited every time another time period went up, wanting to the see the next one before Louise could finish explaining the last. But much of the group recognised some of the artefacts on the screen were also on the timeline which made it easier to identify which time period was associated with which artefacts.
The next activity added to the timeline as each learner took it in terms to dig into our box which contained pictures artefacts, similar to an archaeological lucky dip. A lot of different artefacts we dug out, ranging from Modern to Roman and it was the job of the learners to match the picture of the artefacts with the correct time period so it could be pinned up on the washing line. Some of these artefacts were easier than others to recognise; L remembered the ice-skate and so was able to place that with the right time period and Z was proud of the Samain he put out of the box. D pulled out a picture of a worm and Louise had to explain how this worm would have to be fairly young to still be alive since worms didn’t live for thousands of years, T jokes that he thought that worms did live for that long.
The learners also looked at some real artefacts, with nearly all of them very quickly identifying blue and white pottery and saying it was Victorian. They also looked a flint axe, which A liked a lot. But a lot of the learners couldn’t figure out
what it was made of; in the end to try and decide we had a vote. Most thought it was plastic and we surprised to find out it was actually flint, a type of stone. T was close when he thought it might be made of brick. When Louise asked what it was used for, AK was correct when he said they chopped down trees for firewood. One more artefact was looked at, a Roman coin. R studied carefully before correctly saying it was coin but no one else knew what it was. After a clue though N was able to tell the class what it was. It was explained that coins had been around for a very, very long time which is why this Roman coin was no longer shiny like our pennies and pounds were today.
Now the group were getting good at identifying artefacts and where they came from, the worksheets proved not much of a challenging for some. The group split into pairs and each group had a coloured timeline and some pictures of artefacts, the same one which were featured on the timeline laid out on the washing line. Their task was to match the artefacts and time periods. Some needed a bit more help and the bone Viking bone comb caused a lot of confusion amongst the group as to where it belonged. T and R managed to get through the worksheet very quickly so they were set the
additional task of helping out others finish off. TM found the task very difficult but with the help of L managed to find the correct place on the timeline for the coke can. By the end there were 6 complete timelines which was a great achievement.
There was a lot of identifying objects today and matching them with the correct time period, which is a very hard task to do and all the learners did really well in being able to succeed in doing this.
Session 2: Experimental Archaeology – Pottery
This week’s session was to introduce the learners to experimental archaeology, in particular how pottery was made in the past. We were lucky this week to have two new starters, H and N and a new support worker Sarah; so all in all there were seven eager learners.
We started of the session with a very brief recap of the previous week’s lesson, and using photographs and headings from last week, created a poster to represent what learning had occurred. The poster produced was brilliant and showed what the group had learnt the week before. We also added a few pictures into the workbooks for the learner’s portfolios to remind them what they had achieved.
Once the poster was finished and been admired, we moved on to talking about experimental archaeology. Louise explained that due to conducing excavations and because of experimental archaeology, we know what kind of houses people live in and saw how people used to live in round wooden houses. T was reminded of the aerial photos from the week before where crop marks had indicated where roundhouses used to be. Then we went on to discuss flint knapping and A remembered the flint arrow heads from the week before. He mentioned he would prefer to go to the shops to get his dinner rather than shoot it with a bow and arrow. We finally moved on to how archaeologists think people made pottery in the past and we looked at the many different ways of making pottery.
Having been demonstrated how pottery could be made the group was set a task; Louise pulled out a big box full of broken pottery and as a group the learners had to firstly split the pottery up into colour categories. In the end we ended up with piles for all the brown pottery, all grey pottery and all the white pottery. This was done very quickly with a lot of help from L, whom even wanted to split up the brown sherds into sub-categories of brown such as ‘chocolate’ brown. A was quick to point out that not all the white bits of pottery were completely white but some had flowery patterns on also. Both T and R were able to identify that some of the pieces of pottery were handles.
Once the bit of pottery had been divided, the group split into pairs and each pair were given a categories. Using masking tape and their knowledge the groups task was to piece together the bits of pottery in an attempt to reconstruct the pot. R and L agreed it was a difficult task, like putting together a jigsaw of pottery. However T and H faired very well indeed and put together nearly a whole pot each.
A put together a pot that was rectangular in shape and known as slab pottery. M put together two huge pieces which she thought hopefully might have once contained cake. Louise said she was defiantly right that it probably had food in it but she couldn’t say for sure if it were cake or not. Louise also showed M a picture of a watering can which was very similar in style to the pieces of pottery she had been matching up. Some pieces had writing on and one word looked like brewery and A shook his head when he found out it would have likely contained beer. The group had so much fun piecing together the pots that it was tough trying to get them to stop and T and L insisted on putting the pottery back in the box still stuck together with masking tape.
Once the pottery had been put away it was time to get messy and try make some
pots of our own. M had got very excited at the beginning of the section when it had been mentioned that the group would be making pottery since she had done it before and really enjoyed it. Louise described all the different types of making pottery and which ones the group would be able to try out today, M was disappointed there wouldn’t be a chance to make a wheel thrown pot. Louise explained you could make a pot using a pinching, coiling or a slab techniques. There was also the chance to decorate the pots with imprints for which the learners used everything from plastic knives and forks to toy nuts and bolts.
The learners all went for different ways of making their pots and they all looked unique when finished each learner having decorated it in their own way. They all seemed to have a lot of fun making them and L had a lot of fun decorating hers in particular. M was excellent at making pots and managed to make two. There was also the chance to make clay beads or pendants, which could be attached to string and used as a necklace or hung as a decoration.
Next week the learners will look at chronology and timelines.
Session 1: Introduction to Archaeology.
Today was the start of the WEA archaeology course at the Grange Interlink, Bradford, led by Louise Martin of Archaeological Services WYAS. It also happened to be the start of my Community Archaeologist Trainee Placement (funded by the Council for British Archaeology), and what a great start it was as my first task was to assist Louise with the running of the course. Six willing learners, with the help of Support Worker Sharon, turned up ready to learn about archaeology.
The session kicked off with studying what role archaeologists have; Louise was careful to explain what archaeologist do and what they don’t do ( dig up dinosaurs!). It continued by exploring where archaeologist look for archaeology. A number of the group was surprised when it was mentioned that archaeology can be done underwater. We also looked at what archaeologist could find; the learners all took part in contributing what could be found, such as pottery, coins and bone. Fortunately, there was a chance for the learners to test what they had learnt when a late arrival appeared. They all successfully contributed by explaining to the new arrival the role of archaeologists and the different types of artefacts they discover.
Once the learners had covered a basic background to archaeology they were given the chance to handle a range of objects (artefacts) archaeologists might find. The artefacts were passed around so the learners could explore their shape, feel and construction, and they discuss the objects with each other.
The bone seem to have caused the most excitement amongst the group. There were several large jaw bones and a huge leg bone which T joked all came from a dinosaur, remembering Louise’s advice about what archaeologists ‘don’t do’. L thought they might belong to a giraffe and several of the group suggested an elephant.
After careful examination of all the artefacts the group entered a discussion to see if their interpretation of the artefacts were correct. Unfortunately for T, none of the bone came from dinosaurs or exotic creatures. Both M and L, however, correctly identified a jaw belonging to a cow and another from a dog. With all the excitement about bones, Session 4 (the bones session) should be an interesting one for the learners.
But bone wasn’t the only artefact present, there were flint objects as well as pottery and metal objects too. T even identified a copper alloy button, which impressed everyone. As well as an iron knife with both L and A took an interest in, L even demonstrating how it would be used to eat dinner with.
By now the learner had got the hang of interpreting artefacts and understanding more than just their purpose. For instance when many recognised a shell in the collection, Louise went on to explain that it was an oyster shell and that this was eaten a lot in the Roman period.
To demonstrate what the learners had studied in this introduction they were tasked with creating a picture of something they had seen or been told about. This was met with great enthusiasm and they all put their best efforts into it. The girls, L and R decided they were going to draw the bones which were the artefacts they seemed to have had the most interest in. They got very creative and not only drew what they saw but to be even more accurate, L traced the shape of the horses tooth and R traced the shape of the dog jaw. This was excellent initiative from the pair since it showed they were thinking more like archaeologists.
T&A however, took to drawing very different objects, preferring instead to draw the ceramics they had encountered during the handling sessions. They took it in turns to both draw a ceramic bowl and a brick which had caught their attention. The brick had ‘Elland Road, Leeds’ written on it and being football fans they both wanted to draw it. A decided to embellish his drawing with further artefacts choosing to add a drawing of the shell and an arrowhead too.
M meanwhile had different plans and decided rather than do a conventional drawing she was going to do a collage and a drawing.
All of the students produced wonderful pieces of artwork to represent what they had learnt that day.
The drawings and collages they have produced are part of their portfolio for the course.