Spear throwing, flint knapping on display at International Archaeology Day

Archaeology Day aimed to showcase to the community the work archaeologists do.

Archaeology Day aimed to showcase to the community the work archaeologists do.

Over 100 people went back in time Saturday during an International Archaeology Day celebration presented by the Troy University Archaeology Club held at the Troy Arboretum. 

The full day of activities featured flint knapping, a pottery station, atlatl spear throwing, rock art and demonstrations in paleoethnobotany, zooarchaeology and stratigraphy. The Moundville Archaeological Park was also present with its educational outreach program.

Dr. Stephen Carmody, Associate Chair of the Anthropology, Sociology, and Criminology Department and assistant professor of anthropology, said the goal of the event was to showcase the work they do as archaeologists and here in TROY’s labs and classrooms.

“We’re always trying to combat the narrative of what archaeology is and isn’t,” he said, “and this is another opportunity for us to engage the public, show them what we do, how we do it and the kinds of things we can learn from preserved archaeology sites.”

The flint knapper and pottery tents were popular attractions, and the spear throwing became “highly competitive.”

“I think for people to actually see those demonstrations and not just the artifacts, it really shows the stories behind them—that they were created by real people from the past, that they had meaning and use and purpose,” Carmody said.

Another goal of these types of events, he said, is to give students the opportunity to teach what they’re learning about in the classroom. Cayla Schofield, a sophomore anthropology major from Montgomery, Alabama, helped guide the children through activities like the rock art station where they learned about petroglyphs and had the opportunity to make their own cave art.

Children dip pottery clay into a bucket of water with help.
Participants were able to form their own pottery with clay.

“What’s so fun to me about teaching kids is they always have something fun to say or a fun question,” she said. “It’s nice to show them the fun side of what we do and to get them interested in archaeology in general. They had a really great time putting their own spin on the art.”

In addition to local families, the event attracted archaeology enthusiasts from across the Wiregrass. Chris Peterson, a native of Mobile, Alabama, studied archaeology in Mobile and previously worked at the University of South Alabama Archaeology Museum. Peterson also has a hobby of throwing atlatls. 

“I’d previously worked at the International Archaeology Day at South Alabama for a couple of years, so I wanted to see what TROY was doing. These are always a fun time,” he said. “I first started throwing spears at the Archaeology Day at South. After trying it for the first time, I got an atlatl and some darts for myself. It’s really fun to me to use that technology now, knowing how ancient it is—the oldest evidence we have is 60,000 years old.”

The event was presented by the Troy University Anthropology Club, the Moundville Archaeological Park and the Alabama Archaeological Society.

International Archaeology Day was launched in 2011 and is held annually on the third Saturday in October as a celebration of archaeology and its contributions to society. Every October the Archaeological Institute of America and archaeological organizations around the world present archaeological programs and activities for people of all ages and interests.