SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – Fifteen Youngstown State University students put their “in class” knowledge to work on Sunday while performing a field study in Springfield.
The Honors College backyard archaeology course teaches the students the basic methods of uncovering artifacts.
On Sunday, they got hands-on experience while they excavated their own layout units.
“Units produce the artifacts. It’s where everything comes from, and they learn how to lay them out correctly,” says archaeologist and professor Tom Delvaux.
Delvaux says at a real site, the layout units are numbered on a map and organized in a line formation.
“At the end of the day, you sit down and you look at everything that’s been found, and you look at the map and you can figure out where people were doing things at,” says Delvaux. “Where they were cooking, where they were making tools. Where they lived at.”
Professor Matt O’Mansky leads the class. He describes archaeology as a unique puzzle where it’s hard to tell how many pieces there are or what’s missing – let alone how they fit together.
“We bring the dead back to life. We give voice to the people – mostly the common people who were the backbone of the society but left no trace,” says O’Mansky. “Now, we may not know their names but I can now talk about the lives of Maya children, Maya women, Maya elderly, because of the work that we do.”
Sunday’s field project gives the students a glimpse of some of the basic digging skills they could bring to a foreign country.
“While we’re just working in a corn field near Youngstown today, I’ve said to them many times the methods they’re learning, that we’re doing, you would take to Guatemala where I work. You would do the same thing in Egypt or China – the same techniques anywhere in the world,” says O’Mansky.
Aurora Fares is a sophomore studying biology and pre-pharmacy. She says there is a lot to be learned through archaeology.
“We have to know what happened in the past to apply to the future so we don’t make those mistakes again,” says Fares. “We can learn from the fall of other civilizations.”