When students propose an inference about the people who generated the garbage, ask them:
What would the activity you are proposing (hypothesis) look like archaeologically? What artifacts would you expect to find if your hypothesis is correct?
|When archaeologists suspect a certain
behavior was occurring, they make an
hypothesis about what the archaeological
evidence would look like. For example,
archaeologists could hypothesize that
people butchered large game where it was
killed and only took the most desirable
parts back to their village. In excavating
the village, archaeologists would prove or
disapprove their hypothesis based upon the
animal bones present.
|Does your study of your garbage tell you everything about American society? Why or why not?||One sample is only a glimpse into a
complex society. Just as you only see a
small piece of our culture from one
sample, archaeologists see only a sliver of
the past from one site.
|Do the contents in your garbage can change throughout the year? . . . as a result of special occasions like birthdays or company for dinner? What mistakes might an archaeologist make about your family if he/she studied only the garbage from those special events?||Just as someone who wants to completely
understand your family would study your
garbage over a long period of time, an
archaeologist studies many sites because
one site cannot reflect the range of
activities people engaged in.
|How would the results of your study be different if we had mixed your individual garbage bags all together into one heap?||Context would have been lost, and only
very general statements about the culture
that generated the garbage could then be
made. This is what happens when vandals
dig up sites and mistakenly say the artifacts
are preserved and no information has been