Investigate Archaeology

Archaeological techniques

These resources allow you to investigate some of the techniques that archaeologists use when conducting excavations and recording their finds.


Activity Title




Archaeologist for an Hour

To learn excavation techniques and be an archaeologist

To create then excavate your own roman 'dig' to find pottery and learn what the potty could tell us about the Romans

Large box or tray in which the mini 'dig' can take place, enough sand or similar material to fill the tray, pottery fragments (remember make sure there are no sharp edges). You may be able to borrow some from your local museum, trowels, masking tape

Crop Marks

To discover what underground archaeological features can be seen from the air and what they tell us.

To create your own crop marks in a tray of growing cress.

Photographs of objects taken from above, worksheet explaining how crop marks are made, laminated aerial photographs, non-permanent OHP/white board pens, seed trays, cress seed, small stones/gravel, compost, labels, pencils, water spray, Cling film

Historic Poo

To discover what we can learn from an ancient cesspit

To create your own historic 'poo' and excavate it to discover what it tells us about ancient diets.

Play-dough (2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 cup salt), OXO cubes, Bovril or brown food colouring, dietary evidence that could pass into the coprolite, small sticks, plastic sheeting, paper plates or similar, gloves (optional)

Investigate a Object

To learn the techniques of recording a find

To record some small finds in the way that they would be recorded an archaeologist

A selection of objects to record, copy of the recording form, pencil or pen


To discover the archaeological technique of magnetic surveying

Create your own mock landscape and then survey it to find the buried 'archaeological' features.

Compass, cat litter tray, sand or soil, bar magnet, squared paper

ruler, grid marker

Maths in a Monastery

To learn about surveying and drawing plans of buildings

Draw and

measures a plan of the church in an abbey or monastery and then use this to estimate how many floor tiles might have covered the floor.

Plan of the church, pencil, calculator (optional), long tape measure or trundle wheel, some real or replica medieval floor tiles.

Rot or Not

To look at what objects are preserved when buried

Use a selection of artefacts and objects to discuss what would be preserved on a human burial

A collection of assorted artefacts or a collection of modern discarded

objects or a collection of pictures of artefacts/objects, pens and pencils, paper

Section or Elevation Drawing

To learn the techniques of drawing an accurate plan.

To create a vertical plan drawing of either a wall or a section of a mock

archaeological dig.

Drawing boards or clipboards, tracing paper, 1cm graph paper, Sellotape, sharp pencil, nails, string, 30m tape, hand tapes, line level, mock excavation box

Surveying your Classroom

Investigate how archaeologists survey a site

Making a scale diagram of your classroom to learn archaeological techniques

Bananas, Copies of estate agent or similar plans/drawings with scales marked on them, a classroom or hall, clipboards, pencils, pencil sharpeners, tracing paper or drafting film, 1cm² graph paper, Masking tape, String or hand tapes, 2 x long measuring tapes e.g. 30m, rubbers


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