Archaeology Education Programs
The Archaeological Process
Archaeological projects are conducted in a step-by-step process, much like scientific experiments. Learn more about how archaeologists in Alexandria go about selecting a site, conducting research, excavating a site, cleaning and cataloguing artifacts, and reporting their findings.
Lesson plans on topics relating to Alexandria history are available online for use in the classroom. One archaeology learning activity examines a harmonica found on an archaeological site in the African American neighborhood known as Haiti.
Arranging a Field Trip
To arrange a field trip, contact the Office of Historic Alexandria education coordinator at Alexandria Archaeology by email or at 703.746.4399.
If you would like to combine your visit with lessons at other Alexandria museums, please look over our list of sites offering educational programs before calling. The Alexandria Archaeology Museum can accommodate up to 20 students at a time for an Adventure Lesson. Large groups may be accommodated by dividing them into smaller groups and rotating site visits, as many of the historic properties are within easy walking distance of each other.
The Alexandria Archaeology Museum and many other sites offer free admission to the groups from the Alexandria City Public Schools. Some also offer free programs to other public school groups. When making reservations, inquire about the fee structure
Archaeology Adventure Lessons
The Archaeology Adventure Lessons demonstrate the step-by-step process of archaeology through hands-on group activities using artifacts from the Alexandria Archaeology collection. The Adventure Lessons, held at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, are suitable for school classes, scout groups, birthdays, summer camps, adult and senior groups. Call the archaeology educator at 703.746.4399 at lease two weeks in advance to schedule a lesson.
Lessons are free to Alexandria Public School Groups, and $2.00 per person ($20.00 minimum) for all other groups. The educator can also arrange combined tours with other Alexandria museums and historic properties.
Elementary Age Lessons
- How Sweet it Was: The Sugar Trade in Alexandria - Activity Sheet
What is a Sugar House? Examine special artifacts to learn how sugar was made in the 19th century. Learn how archaeologists identify and classify artifacts. Learn more about sugar refining pottery.
- The Potter’s Art: Alexandria Stoneware Pottery Designs - Activity Sheet
Who made this pot? Learn to identify Alexandria’s potters by their designs on salt-glazed stoneware pottery. Learn more about Alexandria stoneware
- Archaeologists Set the Tavern Table - Activity Sheet
How do archaeologists relate artifacts to historic documents? Use tavern keeper Mary Hawkin’s 1777 inventory and artifacts excavated from Gadsby’s Tavern courtyard to bring an 18th century tavern to life. Visit Gadsby's Tavern Museum on a combined tour.
Lessons for Older Students and Adults
Alexandria Archaeology Summer Camp
WHAT: Help Alexandria’s City archaeologists excavate a real archaeological site! Learn professional excavating, recording, and artifact processing methods. Uncover Alexandria’s buried past while protecting the City’s valuable historic resources.
WHO: Ages: 12 - 15.
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from July 21-25, 2014
WHERE: The Alexandria Archaeology Museum and a real archaeological site located in Alexandria.
COST: $400/session, Scholarships available. A non-refundable deposit check of $100/session, payable to the City of Alexandria, is required upon receipt of application to secure your reservations. The balance of $300/session is due by June 1, 2014.
REGISTER: To register, fill out the Summer Camp Application and send your payment to the Alexandria Archaeology Museum. For those in need, please fill out the Scholarship Application.
INFO: Read our 2013 Summer Camp Blog.
Historical Archaeology Field Program
Fall Semester 2013, The George Washington University and Alexandria Archaeology are offering a field and laboratory course designed as a hands-on introduction to all facets of historical archaeology. The course takes place at Shuter’s Hill, site of a late eighteenth- and an early nineteenth-century plantation, located on the property of the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia and at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum’s laboratory in the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Students gain experience in the fundamentals of archaeological field and laboratory work; including excavation, record keeping, stratigraphic assessment, artifact identification, laboratory analysis, and public interpretation. Lectures will be presented on archaeological theory and ethics, the history of Alexandria and its urban development, the history of Shuter’s Hill, archival research, excavation techniques, artifact identification, and collections management. The curriculum is applicable to anthropology, history, historic preservation, museum studies, museum education, and American Studies.
General Information for 2013
Fridays, 1 – 5 p.m., August 30 through December 6. The final exam will be held between Wednesday, December 11 and Thursday, December 19, exact date and time to be announced.
How to Register
Students register for the Historical Archaeology Field Program through The George Washington University. The course carries three semester hours of graduate or undergraduate credit through the American Studies or Anthropology departments. Class size will be limited to 20 students.
Internship opportunities (unpaid) are available on a limited basis throughout the year, to students who will receive credit through their colleges or universities. It is the responsibility of each student to make the arrangements to receive this credit.
Students usually come from departments of Anthropology, American Studies, Historic Preservation, History, Museum Studies and Museum Education.
Call the Internship Coordinator at 703.746.4399 for more information, or submit an Internship Application with your current resume.
Some internship opportunities that may be available include:
- Organizing historical and archaeological references to create a data base for making preservation decisions.
- Conducting documentary research using primary and secondary sources on specific properties or on specific aspects of the City’s historic development.
- Conducting archaeological survey, excavation and laboratory work, as available (generally May through October)
- Assisting in museum education programs which interpret archaeological and historical information to the public. Opportunities to design and install small-scale exhibitions are available on occasion.
- Assisting in collections management of artifact collections and their documentation, including field notes, records and photographs.