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MadConnects Summer Spotlight! - Olivia Carver and Archeological Dig in Madison County!

This summer students engaged in a weeklong archeological experience that culminated with a dig right here in Madison County. The project was led by William Wetsel Middle School Social Studies Teacher, Olivia Carver. She offered, "From the start, the goal was to give the students a hands-on archaeology experience. While we're able to teach the importance of archaeology in Unit 2 for USI, however students still tend to consider it boring or stuffy. We wanted an experience that showed them that although it is not glamorous work, it is fun and teaches us so much about the world around us.

We had ten students participate led by Dr. Carol Nash, a longtime archaeologist and professor at JMU. She was an absolutely incredible teacher, and provided so much historical context of the property, and was so kind and patient during the process. The property that was so generously offered for the dig by the Chairman of Madison County Board of Supervisors, Clay Jackson, had an existing homesite that had deteriorated. We were trying to identify the history of the homesite, who lived there, how it was used, etc. We completed sample digs around the homesite foundation and evaluated census records to help discover and better understand the history of the home. Most artifacts found were of agricultural origin, as well as many Native American artifacts like spears.

The most interesting thing with this dig, was allowing the children to see the different skill sets involved with being an archaeologist- geology, anthropology, entomology, dating skills, etc. For example, Dr. Nash was able to view glass found and determine upon visual inspection that it was glass produced after 1906 because of a seam on the glass. As an educator, it was heartwarming to see the students endure the heat, and get excited about getting their hands dirty. They truly were able to see the skills involved in the recovery process of artifacts, take a walk in an archaeologists shoes, and better understand the cultures of this region- past and present! "

Thank you Mrs. Carver for your hard work this summer in engaging our students in a "real world" dig!

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