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A “Hands On” Approach to Archaeology

Cranbrook students encounter Pre-Columbian America at Cranbrook Institute of Science.

As part of Pre-Columbian American civilizations study, Upper School 10th grade history classes have teamed up with experts at Cranbrook Institute of Science (CIS). The main questions they examined together: “How have archaeology and science given historians tools to understand indigenous cultures?” and “How do we know what we know?”
History faculty Chip Wiswall, Erika Hansinger, and Jenny Roebuck worked with Curator of Collections Cameron Wood to develop a program for students to find answers to those questions by experiencing  artifacts such as hand tools, atlatls, and a genuine wigwam replica built by native peoples as a permanent installation at CIS. 
Students also visited the collections archives at the Institute, where they examined artifacts uncovered at a site near Flint, MI, and learned the deductive process used by archaeologists.
The highlight of the day for many students was, of course, trying their hand with the atlatls and spears.  Fortunately, no caribou were injured during these demos!

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