bones

Whatcom digs archaeology

By Apple Parry

Whatcom Community College held its fourth annual Archaeology Fair in the Syre Auditorium on Oct 30, where Whatcom’s anthropology faculty and the Association for Washington Archaeology welcomed students and staff from Whatcom and Western Washington University to show a variety of educational displays.

The fair had tables from Whatcom students, Western students, cultural resource management firms, private firms, the Lummi nation, a few independent researchers, and a table of archaeology-focused books.

“I’m really pleased that we’ve got such good representation here,” said Dr. Jennifer Zovar, a Whatcom professor and organizer of the event.

Zovar’s archaeology class was in charge of the “Garbology” display table. She explained, “Archaeology is really the study of ancient garbage, and so, by looking at modern garbage, what can we tell about our own campus? The project they did for this fair was looking at litter patterns on campus and what we might be able to learn about changing habits.”

Dr. Zovar

Dr. Jennifer Zovar

 

Zovar and her class found that, “a lot of [the garbage] is cigarette butts.”

Zovar said one of the biggest takeaways from the event was that “a lot of Whatcom students come and are able to meet students and faculty from Western.”

Students that are “getting interested in archeology here at Whatcom have ended up transferring and going on to archeology careers, in part because of outreach events like this.” Zovar said, adding, “The connections you make at an event like this, it’s much different than the connections you make in the classroom.”

A slideshow was debuted this year, featuring pictures all related to archaeology and anthropology, which played throughout the event. Zovar said, “It just helps to see those sorts of hands-on pictures, you get to see the faces of the people doing archeology in addition to
everything that we’ve got going on.”

One of those faces is teacher and faunal analyst Alyson Rollins, who has been involved in the fair since the start. Her topic, faunal analysis, is the differentiation between animal bones and human bones. One of her goals for this fair was to give the larger community insight into what kind of jobs and opportunities are available in the real world.

Rollins said her favorite part about the fair is getting the opportunity to “touch base with colleagues that we don’t get to see very often,” and “getting to interact with my students outside of the classroom.”

Riley Campbell, a student, said “It’s cool to see how things change over time, and the different methods people use to make different things.” His project focused on the timeline of bottles and cans, how they have aged, and how manufacturers have changed the shape and materials they use to make them.

Riley Rieber, a Western student, started her first archaeology fair in charge of the hands-on station. This station lets participants experience firsthand how to use the same tools and techniques used by the people of the past.

Rieber said her station is interesting because “if you were trying to survive out in the woods with nothing but the things around you, you can learn from the past and apply it to today.” The activities included shaving bark off a tree branch, using rocks to shape other rocks, and learning which types of rocks are most useful in certain situations.

Zovar said “Western always brings this hands-on display, it’s usually the most popular because it’s so cool to try and use the tools that the peoples used so long ago and see how they really work.”


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