Museum of Science, Boston

Books for Kids

  • A Street Through Time (series)
    , by
    Anne Millard
  • Archaeologist Dig for Clues
    , by
    Kate Duke
  • Archaeology for Kids: Uncovering the Mysteries of Our Past
    , by
    Richard Panchyk
  • Eyewitness: Archaeology
    , by
    Jane McIntosh
  • The Archaeology Handbook
    , by
    Bill McMillon
  • The Usborne Young Scientist: Archaeology
    , by
    Barbara Cork

Contact Us

Contact the Discovery Center and Living Lab staff at

October 2010: Archaeology Excavation

Archaeology Excavation

Archaeologists study ancient cultures by looking at what they have left behind in the archaeological record. Contrary to popular belief, archaeologists are not "treasure hunters". Archaeologists are actually much more interested in the ordinary things of life that can give us valuable information about the daily lives of past people.

On a very basic level, archaeologists study ancient garbage or "midden". In fact, garbage can be quite indicative of cultural values, social status, diet, and social organization of the society that left it behind.

The 'Archaeology Excavation' activity at the Experiment Station in the Discovery Center teaches children about the tools, methods and questions used by archaeologists to understand ancient humans. Discovery Center visitors are invited to "become archaeologists" by excavating unknown objects, mapping the 'artifacts' they find on a grid system, or piecing together the remains of broken plates, cups and other objects. Once completed, visitors are invited to reconstruct history by making connections between the people who used these artifacts and people who live today.

Archaeology at Home

You can continue your archaeological adventures at home by:

Organizing your own 'archaeological dig'

Create your own Dig Site by burying objects from your home in a sand box or garden.

Finding tools for your excavation is easier than you might think.

Slotted spoons and strainers are common items in kitchens and would make great excavation tools!

You might also need pencils, paper, rulers and measuring tapes to determine and record information about your finds.

Gardening gloves, sunscreen and a sun hat will help protect you from the weather while you dig.

Looking at objects in your home as if you have never seen them before

An object that may be familiar to you may be completely foreign to someone from a different country. How do you think someone from another culture would see items in your home? How do you think future archaeologists will interpret your culture based on the objects you have at your house?

Someone found this 'mystery object' at the Museum.

What do you think it could be? What might someone who finds this object 2,000 years from now think it was used for?

  • A tickling device?
  • A device to scare away people?
  • An inflatable storage tube?
  • A birthday party favor?

Look at the objects around your home or school. What would you think about all of our everyday stuff if you where a time-traveler who was visiting you from the future (or the past)?