On March 31 at the Lower School, teams of fourth grade archaeologists presented their research on the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution to schoolmates, parents, teachers, and a panel of “experts” from the “hiStory Channel.” Each group discussed a particular ancient settlement, describing its geography and impact on society and providing a digital 3D model of the community site and short video documentary trailer as part of a pitch to the “network executives.”
“The students approached their studies in the roles of expert archeologists, discovering how these ancient people lived and became thriving communities with a lasting impact on future generations. Often, it was their attention to the small details that led to big revelations,” said Lower School teacher Colette Wilson.
Students researched Mehrgarh in Pakistan, one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming and herding in South Asia; Skara Brae, or the “Heart of the Neolithic Orkney,” one of the best preserved ancient villages in Northern Europe; and Banpo, located in the Yellow River Valley in China and likely one of the first settlements to dig defensive moats.
Fourth graders organized their presentations to both answer the question of what it means to settle and convince the experts to produce their documentary for the channel’s Neolithic Week.
The experts asked students to identify unique qualities about their archeological site and to define a settlement, as well as general questions about their experiences “in the field.” In response, students pointed to signs of advanced farming, weaponry, and tools—drilled teeth in Mehrgar, matristic societies, domestication of dogs, and craftsmanship such as using flint rocks to sharpen spears and axes.
“The Neolithic unit introduces a wealth of information about cultures, people, geography, and the evolution of civilization, and the students were able to focus on the big picture to understand the importance of the lasting societal impact of these ancient settlements. We were truly impressed,” said Lower School teacher Alicia Schordine.