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The Trojan War at Derby High School.

“Thank you so much for the Archaeology Workshop on Monday 24 September. Having hosted several workshops in school (though never for Archaeology!), I was struck by your outstanding level of preparation: the resources were superb; the day was very well pitched, structured and timed; everything was beautifully tailored to the work the students are already doing on Troy. This is not always the case! I cannot thank you enough for the support you have given us in the delivery of our scheme of work, and for creating the perfect marriage of fun and learning which is the perpetual yet elusive goal of teachers everywhere!”

Anna Jordan, Head of History, Derby High School

Derby High School in Littleover requested a whole day workshop on the theme of the Trojan War to help their Year 9 girls understand the interplay between myth and archaeology and the pitfalls and limitations of both for writing history.

The day started with a look at modern rubbish. Armed with a number of prompt questions to help their analysis of these ‘artefacts’, the girls began to develop an understanding of how archaeologists approach material remains.

This was followed by an activity in which the group had to imagine they were archaeologists living 4000 years in the future and had just finished excavating their school – only they had no idea it was a school. In small teams, they were sent off to measure, plan, and describe a room or area and the things they found there. Once they had completed this task, the groups returned to present their findings to the rest of the class, who, not only had to guess where the groups had been, but also decide on alternative interpretations. They soon realised that this was not as straightforward as they thought it would be. Indeed, they began to realise how much more difficult it could be if we were really looking at remains from thousands of years ago.

After a break, we considered the Law of Superposition with an activity focussed on stratigraphy. This was followed by a mock-excavation. Each group was given a trench based on a theme drawn from evidence from Troy VI/VII and Late Bronze Age Greece. Once the trenches had been carefully excavated, the girls planned their finds in situ. They then found out what they could from prepared information sheets.

The finds consisted of a variety of animal bones and shells from which we could say something about what the Trojans ate; remnants of a fresco, Linear B tablets mentioning Poseidon, and psi phi and tau figurines possibly representing goddesses allowing us to say something about LBA religion; spindle whorls and loom weights from which we learned about Trojan weaving; a fragment of the Alaksandu Hittite cuneiform tablet, beads of lapis lazuli, gold, and other Linear B tablets representing the contact the Trojan’s had with the wider world; and sherds of pottery of all shapes and sizes.

Throughout the excavation activity, small groups were taken to one side to handle genuine LBA artefacts coming from a range of sites – from Mycenae and Tiryns to Enkomi on Cyprus.

We finished by dressing up my willing husband and fellow archaeologist Dr Ian Parker Heath in a replica of the Dendra Panoply – I will add some photos as soon as I can!

“It was fun!” “I learned that you need a good imagination for archaeology!” “It’s harder than you think to dig up and find out about the past.” “It was really good.”

Year 9 pupils at Derby High School

The scheme of work developed by Mrs Jordan has now been posted on the TES website, along with a lovely review of what Ian and I did!


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