For Young Archaeologists: Biblical Archaeology in Your Own Backyard -- By: Gary A. Byers

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 14:2 (Spring 2001)
Article: For Young Archaeologists: Biblical Archaeology in Your Own Backyard
Author: Gary A. Byers

For Young Archaeologists:
Biblical Archaeology in Your Own Backyard

Gary A. Byers

Everyone cannot join us in Israel for a dig, but anyone can get a sense of what happens in an excavation. You can experience the various aspects of archaeological discovery at home by recreating an excavation in your own backyard.

Here is a list of the materials you will need:

  1. Permission to dig
  2. Stakes
  3. Ball of string
  4. Objects to find
  5. Tape measure or yardstick
  6. Compass
  7. Pencils
  8. Graph paper
  9. Camera
  10. Film
  11. Tools to dig

First, with four stakes, set up string lines for 5 meter (5m x 5m) squares. Allow 1 meter of space between your squares. Use a compass to orient each square on a north-south axis, as real excavations do. This helps provide proper controls and aids in recording what is found. Of course, you don’t have to use meters, you can use yards or even feet to measure your square. Just be consistent and use the same measuring system all the way through the dig. It may be best for all “diggers” to participate in the square set-up. Designate each square with a number and a letter (A1, A2, B1, B2).

You don’t actually have to dig into the ground to make this project work. However that would take your “dig” to another level! Your second step is to “salt” the dig by burying artifacts in the ground so they can be discovered later. You may want to ask an adult to help, so you can enjoy discovering the finds. If you choose not to dig, just set things on the ground or grass. Use objects from the time period and/or part of the world you want to study. You could include these items:

Stone (blades, points, axe-heads, pounders)

Metal (blades, jewelry, coins)

Pottery (broken or whole)


Building materials (stones, bricks, plaster, wood, nails)

Clothing and other personal items

These artifacts might be placed in such a way as to show a specific space—like a kitchen, a bathroom, bedroom or workroom.

The third step is to divide diggers into groups called square teams. Each team needs a supervisor, assistant supervisor, draftsman, artist and diggers.

Now diggers can examine their square from one side to the other, finding each item one at a time. Each discovery is charted on a top-plan drawing of the square. To precisely locate the find-spot within the square, diggers can measure from the string-line sides of the square. Using the same measuring system to scale (for example, 1 inch on the plan = 1 foot on the ground), the draftsman charts each loca...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()