Some hands-on experience with archaeology awaits those who visit Gillette’s Rockpile Museum this weekend.
The museum is hosting its first annual Archaeology Fair on Saturday, featuring stations where participants can get a feel for activities such as excavating artifacts, using an ancient tool to throw a spear, making pottery and grinding corn.
“We’re hoping the kids and adults get an idea of what archaeology is,” said Cara Reeves, the Rockpile’s collections assistant and a member of the committee that organized the fair. “We hope they get a better idea of what archaeologists do.”
This year’s inaugural Archaeology Fair, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, coincides with Wyoming’s celebration of Archaeology Month in September.
A number of experts from different areas, such as the Wyoming Archaeological Society, Vore Buffalo Jump, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and University of Wyoming, will set up stations through the day where attendees can take part in different activities.
For instance, the Wyoming Archaeological Society’s Pumpkin Buttes Chapter will set up a booth where participants can take part in a mock excavation.
Reeves said replicas of artifacts will be placed inside boxes of dirt to be “excavated.”
“The kids or adults will learn how to excavate on a small scale,” she said. “There is an an activity sheet where they can draw what they find and talk about what it is so they get the idea of what archaeologists actually do.”
Another station will allow attendees to recreate ancient pottery using clay and cooking demonstrations, using a recreated hearth outside of the museum, will be offered at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.Also on tap is a demonstration of an “atlatl,” a device used to throw spears with added velocity and power. Attendees will get a chance to use the atlatl at targets on a range.
Dog sled racer Tara Lynn will also demonstrate the use of a “travois,” a sort of sled used to drag loads over land, with the assistance of two of her dogs which will pull the load.