Files available:

  • Archaeology Alive! widescreen format slideshow
  • Archaeology Alive! standard format slideshow
  • Archaeology Alive! slideshow script
  • Harris Matrix activity sheet
  • Digging Down demo excavation video notes

About Archaeology Alive! Classroom Materials

MAG’s Archaeology Alive! classroom materials can help you and your students in grades 6–12 explore the science of archaeology, learn about the origins of some of MAG’s ancient artifacts, and have a hands-on experience with some authentic artifacts. These resources were developed and tested in Rochester area schools by MAG Academic Programs staff and archaeologist Dr. Alexander Smith.


A 2015 Ph.D. graduate from Brown University’s Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Dr. Alexander Smith is a Rochester native. Fieldwork has taken him to locations including Rome, Sardinia, Jordan, Guatemala, and Montserrat, but he specializes in Mediterranean archaeology and the computerized techniques of surveying and mapping archaeological sites. His work at Brown University also included extensive classroom outreach to Providence, RI area schools.

What is Archaeology? An Introduction

A slideshow (standard format or widescreen) with accompanying informative script, initially developed by Dr. Alexander Smith, introduces the tools, terminology, and techniques used by modern archaeologists. See images of actual fieldwork and finds, and get answers to crucial questions such as, “How do archaeologists know where to dig?” “Why is sifting important?” “What are the five ancient-world metals?” and “Do archaeologists study dinosaurs?” Feel free to adapt the accompanying script information for your students’ needs.

Digging Down: A Virtual Archaeological Excavation

Stratigraphy, or “layers in the dirt,” forms the basis for archaeological exploration, excavation, and dating of finds. Watch as archaeologist Dr. Alexander Smith reenacts the principles of stratigraphy by conducting a simulated excavation using simple blankets and a plastic bin. This video is a great addition to the introductory slideshow described above. We also offer a student notes sheet to accompany the video.

The Harris Matrix: The Logic of Archaeological layers

For more advanced students, introduce a mathematical-logic element to your archaeological explorations by trying your hand at creating a Harris Matrix. This is a tool resembling a flow chart, grounded in the three basic laws of archaeological stratigraphy, and used by archaeologists to diagram and record the layers of soil and human occupation at an excavation site. This is a great follow-on activity for Digging Down: A Virtual Archaeological Excavation, described above.

Archaeology Alive! The Hands-on Artifact Activity

This culminating activity, facilitated in your classroom by a MAG Museum Educator, uses a selection of small, authentic objects from MAG’s collection of teaching objects. The activity offers your students a hands-on encounter with the ancient world, inspires their observation and critical thinking skills, and enhances the learning connections made through the introductory slideshow and the virtual excavation. This option is available only as a supplement to a scheduled class field trip to MAG; our popular tour of ancient cultures, Passport to the Past, is a great fit.

Contact to discuss scheduling The Artifacts Kit experience for your class.