Can you dig it?

17th June 2005 at 01:00
Karen Keddie looks at series that unearth the work of archaeologists

Arcventure CD series The Egyptians By Jen Oakton Sherston pound;49.95 + VAT

Excavating the Past series The Viking World Ancient Greece By Christine Hatt Heinemann pound;11.99 each

Picture the Past series Life in a Roman Town Life in a Roman Fort By Jane Shuter Heinemann pound;10.99 each

In topics such as "What do we know about the Ancient Egyptians from what has remained?", pupils need to understand what it is to be an archaeologist. The Arcventure CD-Rom is a great way to get them enthused.

Based on the actual Giza excavations - although presented only in animated form with the rare use of real photographs - they give pupils the task of excavating artefacts and, in some cases, going back in time to explore Giza and interview Egyptians to uncover evidence about unknown objects.

The simulation emphasises the need for care - artefacts can be destroyed and lost - and has a journal facility for pupils to record their findings.

It is accompanied by printable resources, teacher records and voice simulation for early readers.

Excavating the Past is a fabulous non-fiction series that offers the reader the chance to follow in the footsteps of the archaeologists who unearthed the secrets of the Ancient Greek and Viking worlds.

Aimed at challenging more able readers or historians at key stage 2, these books have colour photographs of artefacts with information about how and where they were found, and what the historians thought about them, eyewitness quotes from real written evidence, "did you know" snippets of related facts on each page, details about the lives of archaeologists and historians, and occasional maps and reconstructions.

More excitingly, they finish with both a timeline of the age itself and a chronology of the findings that fill our world and our museums today.

Picture the Past books similarly use colour photographs of ancient artefacts to explain how historians and archaeologists have found out about the past, but in a much simpler way, making them more appropriate for less able readers and historians in KS2.

This series covers two eras, the Romans and the Ancient Egyptians, using three books for each (covering different areas of life, such as a fort, a town and a village). Again, the books inform readers about what archaeologists do and what has happened to artefacts and settlements that were uncovered, as well as how these were lost or destroyed in the first place.

The books are clearly laid out with a glossary to help readers.

Karen Keddie teaches Year 6 at Deer's Wood Primary School, South Gloucestershire

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