International Archaeology Day to involve students in exploration of the past

International Archaeology Day, or IAD, will present humanity’s past through family-inclusive activities. The UAA Anthropology Club will be hosting a mask-making table at this year’s event.

A life-size woolly mammoth will greet visitors at International Archaeology Day located in the Campbell Creek Science
Center. Graphic courtesy of the UAA Anthropology Department.

Archaeology is one of the four subfields of anthropology and focuses on human societies and cultures and their development. The other three subfields, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology and linguistic anthropology, focus on the physical aspects of the human species like evolution, the social lives of communities and language in cultures, respectively.

Meghan Ussing, the president of the UAA Anthropology Club, is excited that the event is for everyone, not just those who have an active interest in archaeology or anthropology.

“Students and everyone should attend Archaeology Day because bones are so cool. Archaeology is so much more than [what] is portrayed in the movies, such as Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, etc., and is intellectually far more exciting than Harrison Ford running from big rocks,” Ussing said. 

In the past, the UAA Anthropology Club has hosted the event in Anchorage, but will only be participating this time around. This year’s IAD is hosted by The Bureau of Land Management and its partners. The club’s table will feature Yup’ik-style masks. These types of masks are expressive shamanic ritual masks made by the Yup’ik people of Southwestern Alaska. 

Ussing gives insight into why it would be interesting to learn more about archaeology as well.

“Archaeology is a fascinating window to our past and provides a glimpse of what life may have been like for our ancestors, both homo sapiens and our more distant ancestors,” Ussing said.

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There are many activities planned for this year’s event, such as cave painting, Yup’ik-style mask making, hunting demonstrations with atlatls, a throwing spear and other types of spears, and storytelling using the Dena’ina way of life.

A life-size version of a Woolly mammoth will also be featured at the event, along with guided World War II Interpretive Walks that meet in front of the Campbell Creek Science Center.

Originally named Day of Archaeology, the event name changed to National Archaeology Day until it gained popularity in so many countries that it received its full name, International Archaeology Day, in 2013. 

Day of Archaeology was an online event originated by archaeologists in Great Britain and Spain in 2011. It was created by several organizations, including the Society for American Archaeology, Society for Historical Archaeology and the American Anthropological Association.

“International Archaeology Day is a celebration of archaeology and its contributions to society. Every October, the Archaeological Institute of America and archaeological organizations around the world present archaeological programs and activities for people of all ages and interests,” according to the American Archaeological Institute website.

International Archaeology Day is held at Campbell Creek Science Center on Oct. 19 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. For additional information, call (907) 267-1247 or email the Bureau of Land Management at Campbell Creek at [email protected]