Montana Historical Society

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MHS Virtual Archaeology Day 2020

Due to COVID 19, the Montana Historical Society has had to cancel the ever-popular October Archaeology Day.  Although we are going to miss the social aspect of having the day here at MHS, we wanted to give teachers the opportunity to provide Archaeology Day virtually in their classroom or online.  

Station 1- What is an Archaeologist?


Find out why it takes a lot more than a passion for studying the past to become an archaeologist.
So You Want to be an Archaeologist? (2:49 mins)

After watching the video write about something that surprised or interested you and something that confused you or that you have more questions about.


Station 2- Flintknapping


Ian Thompson, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Choctaw nation of Oklahoma, is an experienced flintknapper. He describes the practice as an indigenous art form. Using a stone with high silica content, flintknappers chip away at the rock until it is transformed into a sharp- edged cutting tool. Archaeologists learn a lot about past people when they uncover these bits of ancient technology.
Flintknapping (2:22 mins.)


After watching the video write about something that surprised or interested you and something that confused you or that you have more questions about.

 

Station 3- Atlatl


Adrien Hannus talks about the atlatl, a device which helps propel a spear further, faster, and more fatally than can a human arm alone. This device was created and used by prehistoric people more than 10,000 years ago and is an example of evolving technology from ancient times
Folsom Hunters and the Atlatl* (2.33 mins)

*Folsom is the name given to the archaeological sites and isolated finds that are associated with early Paleoindian hunter-gatherers of the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains and American Southwest in North America, between about 13,000-11,900 calendar years ago.

After watching the video write about something that surprised or interested you and something that confused you or that you have more questions about.


Station 4- Stone Boiling

 

Native Americans used fire-heated stones to boil water in order to make soups, cook meat, and extract nutrients from bones.

Boiling Stones Demonstration (3:40 mins)

After watching the video write about something that surprised or interested you and something that confused you or that you have more questions about.

 

Station 5- Ice Patch Archaeology

 

Ice patch discoveries provide an amazing way to capture public interest and to integrate education about archaeology and Native American cultures with education about ancient and modern climates. This video provides a brief overview of more than a decade's worth of investigation into the archaeology of alpine snow and ice in the Greater Yellowstone region and the effects of climate change on archaeological resources.

Ice Patch Archaeology (9 mins)

After watching the video write about something that surprised or interested you and something that confused you or that you have more questions about.

 

Station 6- Exploring the McHaffie Site near Helena


This trailer explores the world-renowned MacHaffie site a few miles south of Helena, Montana.  MacHaffie was one of the first stratified* Paleo-Indian* sites to be excavated in North America in 1951.  Additional excavations occurred during the 1980s and 1990s, but the high water table made it hard to excavate below the Folsom* level, even though archaeologists believed that the site might have been occupied before that period.
McHaffie Site Explored (9 mins)

  • *Stratified- formed, deposited, or arranged in stable layers
  • *Paleo-Indian- the first peoples who entered and inhabited the Americas during the final glacial episodes of the late Pleistocene period which began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago.
  • *Folsom is the name given to the archaeological sites and isolated finds that are associated with early Paleoindian hunter-gatherers of the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains and American Southwest in North America, between about 13,000-11,900 calendar years ago

 After watching the video write about something that surprised or interested you and something that confused you or that you have more questions about.

 

Station 7- Geophysics


This video explains the basics of geophysics and how it can help archaeologists see underground without digging. This non-invasive type of archaeology leaves sites fully intact for future generations of study.
Intro to Geophysics (1:28 mins)

After watching the video write about something that surprised or interested you and something that confused you or that you have more questions about.

 

Station 8- Anzick Boy

Dr. Shane Doyle, an adjunct professor of Native American Studies at MSU, talks about his connections to a boy buried 12,600 years ago near Wilsall, Montana.

Prehistoric Connections (2:18 mins)


After watching the video write about something that surprised or interested you and something that confused you or that you have more questions about.

 

 

Additional Resources for Teaching about Archaeology and Paleo-Indians

MHS Footlocker User Guides*
 

  • Prehistoric Life in Montana - Exposes Montana prehistory (10,000-12,000 years ago) and archaeology through a study of the Pictograph Cave site in eastern Montana.
  • Tools of the Trade: Montana Industry and Technology - Surveys the evolution of tools and technology in Montana from late 1700s to the present.
  • Stones and Bones - Uncovers the earliest evidence of Montana's human history through a study of casts and reproduction stone and bone tools from the Anzick collection found in Wilsall, Montana.

*At the advice of the state epidemiologist, we are not circulating footlockers at this time. However, many of the readings and lesson plans in the User Guides (posted for free download as PDFs) can be completed without access to the physical footlockers.

Montana: Stories of the Land Companion Website and Online Teacher's Guide

  • Provides low resolution pdf files of each textbook chapter as well as worksheets, tests, answer keys, and background information as well as links to lesson plans and relevant websites.
  • Particularly relevant to archaeology day is Chapter 2,”People of the Dog Days.”  Many additional resources are listed on the “For Educators” page for Chapter 2.

Montana Ancient Teachings: A Curriculum for Montana Archaeology and Prehistory 

 

  • Introduces elementary and middle school students to the world of archaeology and what archaeologists have learned about Montana prehistory through archaeology and related scientific disciplines.  Use the Stones and Bones: Prehistoric Tools from Montana's Past footlocker as a companion piece to several of the lessons.
  • Theme 1 - Ancient Teachings in Archaeology 
  • Theme 2 - Ancient Origins And People 
  • Theme 3 - Ancient Technology 
  • Theme 4 - Ancient Subsistence 
  • Theme 5 - Ancient Shelter 
  • Appendices 


What They Left Behind Lesson Plan and PowerPoint

This lesson introduces students to the various types of archaeological sites found in Montana.

Making an Atlatl This lesson provides detailed instructions on how students can make atlatls and darts while learning more about the physics behind this ancient technology and the tremendous skill it took to hunt large games in the pre-contact era

Native American Trade Routes and the Barter Economy

  • Activity One, "Resources and Routes," focuses primarily on mapping pre-contact trade routes, with a special emphasis on Montana.
  • Activity Two, "Trading Times," asks students to simulate the process through which various products from different regional tribes were bartered and disseminated to gain a better understanding of pre-contact barter economy and how it compares with the modern-day cash economy.

Investigating the First Peoples, The Clovis Child Burial

This curriculum guide is for eighth through twelfth grade teachers and their students studying U.S. History. Recently, there has been DNA analysis of the ancient skeletal remains of a child buried near Wilsall, Montana. The investigation of the child’s DNA revealed surprising new information about the First Peoples in America and their relationship with modern American Indians.

First Peoples Buffalo Jump

In an effort to pay homage to the buffalo and the people who honor this mighty animal, First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park has a terrific on-site education Visitor Center. The 6,000 square foot center offers visitors buffalo culture exhibits, a storytelling circle, classroom, gallery and bookstore. An outdoor amphitheater and traditional games playing fields are featured outdoors.

Montana Discovery Foundation

We assist with on-the-ground stewardship and conservation education in the Helena National Forest. We host a variety of educational programs that increase the knowledge and awareness for improving wildlife habitat, watershed health, responsible recreation ethics, and other subjects related to outdoor interests. We run programs to get kids of all ages out into the woods to have fun and learn about nature and natural resources.

Webinar Series

The Yellowstone Gateway Museum is offering an eight-week online series on Montana's Native People: Perspectives on the Clovis Child. Designed for high school and college students, the series begins Tuesday, October 13, at 1:30 p.m., Each week a different webinar will explore the work of anthropologists, archaeologists, geneticists and other professionals who have helped us better understand the Anzick Site, where a the "Clovis child" was buried approximately 12,600 years ago. There will be an interactive online career discussion following each 30-45 minute presentation. The Yellowstone Gateway Museum will also be making the presentations available on YouTube.