Guest blog by Sadiya Fern, Archaeology and Anthropology student at The University of Manchester.
Hi there! I’m a second year Archaeology & Anthropology student here on placement at the Manchester Museum for two weeks. I’ve had an insightful experience here at the Museum and was lucky enough to take part in a Big Saturday on Sat 15 July. The theme for the most recent ‘Big Saturday’ was ‘Stories Found under the Ground’ as part of the Festival of Archaeology 2017. The event attracted all kinds of visitors; I had interacted with a family from Rome and a family from France as well as many local families eager to participate in the activities. Spread across the three Discovery Centre rooms were various object handling ‘zones’: the Ancient Roman Zone displayed Ancient Warfare Replicas, visitors enjoyed trying the helmet on, particularly parents. The Ancient Egypt Zone also displayed Ancient Warfare Replicas and was just as popular, particularly as the objects could be handled by visitors bringing a lot of amazement to the visitors.
The Stone Age Zone had visitors attempting to decipher which of the items were from the Stone Age and which were not. The Stone Painting Zone which was inspired by 11,000 year old Stone Age stones found in a French cave, Le Mas d’Azil with mysterious patterns on them. Visitors of all ages had fun creating their own painted stones and small works of art, there were many happy little faces upon collection of their now dry painted stones at the end of the day.
I helped with the Dig Box activity, where children were encouraged to roll up their sleeves and fine tune their archaeology skills which proved to be quite popular and not just because of the sand! This activity discovered many young archaeologists who were very keen and eager to have a little dig to see what they could find. Once they had found some objects and brushed them clean, the little explorers went on to examine the objects to figure out what they could be and how old they were. I heard many children shout in excitement “Look mummy! Look what I found!” and most children over the age of around 5 were just as excited about discovering what the objects they found were and where they came from.
Manchester Libraries were promoting their free summer reading challenge, encouraging children to read 6 books over the summer to be able to win stickers, certificates and prizes highlighting free access to libraries across the city. There was a wonderful reading area where many parents read with their children, a colouring area, and a little craft area too.
In the Victorian Objects Zone visitors were piecing together Victorian Manchester through 19th century pottery found in an excavation on Deansgate. Broken plates, teacups and much more were being taped together almost like a jigsaw, although slightly trickier as the pieces could have sharp edges requiring much more patience!
Some comments from the day include:
“I absolutely love this place, it is adventurous!” – Macey
“I discovered different stones and how an archaeologist digs for fossils. I had fun doing the activities.”
“Fantastic! Good to learn a bit about history, thank you.”
“I loved it!”
“Great day out, very informative and your staff are fantastic!” – O, J, F, R
The Museum’s next Big Saturday: Modelling Nature is on Sat 19 Aug: 11am-4pm.