Students dig the archaeology fair

By Cailean McLeod

Whatcom hosted an Archeology Fair in Syre Auditorium Oct. 25. with the goal of educating students about archeology.
In honor of Washington State’s Archeology Month several statewide firms, college groups, and experts in archeology presented exhibits and activities about archeology.
“I think students would be interested in archeology, because I think there is an innate curiosity for people to learn about their own history and where they came from,” said Celina Victor, a Whatcom Anthropology Club member and volunteer.
The exhibits facilitated a mix of hands-on activities and informational texts, as well as experts in the field of archeology ready to converse with students at each exhibit.
Two of the exhibits featured activities focused on how early humans made stone bowls and tools from rocks.
Whatcom student Tam Kinkade said, “The hands-on activities they have definitely engage people.” She said that the informational texts, posters, and experts really helped educate students.
Another table featured a campus-wide waste survey, which included multiple posters of thesis projects made by Whatcom archeology students.
One of the theses tackled examines the correlation between smoking and alcohol use based on the amount of bottle caps and cigarette butts found throughout campus and the surrounding areas.
Another thesis investigated the correlation between the amounts of trash found in specific walking paths with the rate of student activity.

Photo By Cailean Mcleod
Photo By Cailean Mcleod

There was also a thesis poster that had information on biodegradable trash and garbology, the study of trash.
Whatcom’s Anthropology Club placed Victor in charge of a hands-on exhibit of a mock dig site.
Victor said that if students correctly identified the object they dug up they won a piece of candy.
Whatcom student Natalie LaTurner said “The exhibits are pretty cool; they are very hands-on. I guess it is pretty interesting to learn about the past.”
Will Nolan, a Western Washington University student studying archeology with professor Sarah Campbell, had a table displaying several items found in the early 1900s.
Nolan said the artifacts were from a dig site in Sumas, now a farm, where a family once lived.
The table displayed rusted beer cans and bent cutlery next to a picture of their younger counterparts; a look into what those objects originally looked like.
Many students at the fair came to experts in the field of archeology to discuss archaeology in general, how to apply it in the field, and how some have used it to help others.
Campbell said Whatcom contacted her to supply an exhibit for the fair because she is both a part of Western’s Anthropology Department and the Association of Washington Archaeology (AWA).
The AWA is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving Washington state archaeological sites and artifacts.
“The State of Washington made October archeology month to raise awareness about the impact of archeological studies and so they asked archeologists to do different talks and events to promote archeology,” Campbell said.
Campbell said “We are doing it because we believe in that outreach.”
Campbell said one of the most interesting archeological finds she made while on the job was a half-buried early 1900’s Hupmobile, while surveying for a hydroelectric project.
The Hupmobile was a brand of runabout car made by the Hupp Motor Car Company from 1909 to 1941.
Her closer inspection of the vehicle revealed that the previous owner had refurbished the vehicle to haul logs.
Campbell said what excites her about that memory is that it tells how people in the 1900’s went to extreme measures to support themselves economically and how her work helps bring that fact to light.
Kelly Bush, president of Equinox Research and Consulting International (ERCI) said the AWA organized the event with Whatcom’s Anthropology Department.
ERCI is a cultural resource management firm specializing in archeological digging, construction monitoring, and preserving historic properties.
Bush said Whatcom contacted her firm to host a table at the event and provide career and class advice for students curious about archeology.
She said if students are set on pursuing archeology then they should “be sure to take enough classes that help you make identifications in the field. In other words, take field-focused studies.”
Examples of field-focused classes include studies of soil, animal and bone, geology, and Geographical Information System (GIS) classes, Bush said, adding that GIS is a computer program that stores data based on location in order to make topographical maps.
“If you are a person who likes to learn stories about people, work outside, and solve problems,” Bush said, “then archeology might be for you.”

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