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Kids of all ages head to UAA for International Archaeology Day

by Catalina Myers  |   

A student volunteer shows a young boy how to throw the AtlAtl.

A student volunteer shows a young boy how to throw the AtlAtl.

Each year the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) celebrates International Archaeology Day in October and this year the University of Alaska Anchorage's Department of Anthropology jumped on the bandwagon, holding a community event at the UAA University Center on Saturday, Oct. 19.

"It was great, we had waves of kids coming through. I would have been happy with 100 or 200 people attending, but we blew right through that," said Associate Professor Diane Hanson, an event organizer. "By the afternoon I think we had about 400 people there."

Anthropology Professor Kerry Feldman gets down and dirty at the mock dig site.

Anthropology Professor Kerry Feldman gets down and dirty at the mock dig site.

It's the first time UAA has hosted this event in conjunction with International Archaeology Day and according to Hanson, despite a government shutdown and she herself having limited mobility from a broken ankle, Anchorage's Archaeology Day was a huge success. She said children of all ages came out to the event to take part in a mock dig, learn how to shoot an AtlAtl (a spear) and create stone artwork from petroglyphs.

Hanson got the idea to host an Archaeology Day here after receiving an email in the summer from AIA, and then got to work recruiting students, faculty and community partners. It wasn't hard convincing people to participate and help run the event; Hanson says the archaeology community in Alaska is small and eager to get the word out about the amazing archaeological and anthropological history here in our state.

Students learned how to determine the age of a cabin from the rings of a tree.

Students learned how to determine the age of a cabin from the rings of a tree.

"It's not Egypt or anything like that here, but Alaska does have really cool archaeology-a lot of people don't realize that," Hanson said. "The history for America starts here in Alaska. Everybody came through here before they went anywhere else, before they became the Maya, the Inca-there's a deep history here and I think it's under-appreciated. We have one heck of a story to tell."

Hanson explains that because archaeology is not a wide spread field of study with few professionals in the state, it's important to her to get the word out about the research and discoveries that are happening here. She says archaeology in Alaska is exciting because our state's history is so ancient and there's so much to discover and explore. The community response to Archaeology Day has her students and colleagues excited and they are making plans for creating next year's event.

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