10 Common Misconceptions About Archaeologists

by: Shana Leslie
There are very few scientific fields as misunderstood as the field of archaeology, and even fewer
fields have been as romanticized. Anthropology, the parent field of archaeology, is also the only
scientific study not taught in American schools.
Biology, geology, geography, chemistry, computers and technology – we’re introduced to the very
basics of these sciences before we even enter high school. Why not archaeology and
anthropology? After all, anthropology is the study of humankind!
It’s no wonder there are so many misconceptions about archaeologists. Here are the ten most
common:

Archaeologists dig up dinosaurs: FALSE
Archaeologists do NOT dig up dinosaurs. Paleontologists dig up dinosaurs
whose bones have been fossilizing in the ground for around 65 million years.
Archaeologists study the life and behavior of modern people, who first
appeared sometime around 200thousand years ago. Dinosaurs and human
beings are separated by millions of year. Calling an archaeologist a
paleontologist is like calling a duck a fish. They both like water, but they live in
totally different levels of it.

Archaeologists don’t do anything useful: FALSE
Archaeology has long been viewed as a glorified academic hobby
with little real practical application. This may have been true a
century ago when archaeology was still growing as a discipline,
but modern archaeology has grown up. Modern archaeologists
work closely with specialists in a variety of fields – from medical
doctors to environmentalists to policy planners.
We don’t just study cool artifacts and old cultures, we uncover
patterns in human behavior, resource distribution, urban planning,
and more. We provide doctors with critical data about disease and medical conditions. And there
are more than a few countries whose entire economies would collapse without the income
generated by archaeological tourism.
Archaeologists are the chroniclers of humanity’s achievements and failures. The value of
archaeology is just now becoming apparent to those in other fields.

Archaeologists are tomb robbers: FALSE
There was a time when archaeologists dug furiously just to uncover
stunning treasures, pristine pottery, and bejeweled finery. Archaeologists
used to be solely concerned with museum-quality pieces that justified the
expenses of their adventure. More commonplace artifacts, even mummies,

were crushed and lost in the onslaught of early excavators. Thankfully, those days are gone.
Today’s excavations are meticulous, and every bit and artifact is plotted and recorded.
Excavations require permits and approval, and graves are disturbed as little as possible (see
Archaeologists like to dig up graves, below). In the present, archaeologists are collecting and
analyzing scientific data to uncover trends in human behavior, human ecology, and more. Human
remains are only uncovered when it’s legal to do so, and if doing so will help us answer specific
questions about the culture being studied.

Archaeologists spend most of their time excavating: FALSE
Some archaeologists wish this were true! Excavation is only one
piece of the archaeological puzzle — a crucial piece. Excavation is
one cog in a systematic scientific machine whose goal is to answer a
specific research question.
When an archaeologist excavates a site they collect data on every
aspect it – soil samples, artifacts, features, flotation results.
Everything that's uncovered must be cleaned, measured, and
cataloged. Once the data is compiled, the real analysis begins.
For every day spent excavating, weeks or months are spent in an office or lab, recording and
analyzing every detail.

Archaeologists like to dig up graves: FALSE
Excavating human remains is tedious, time-consuming, costly, and often
controversial. The cleaning, analysis, curation, and repatriation of human
remains after excavation is also very expensive. One skeleton uncovered on a
site can stop the rest of the dig in its tracks, completely taking over the
excavation. Legal authorities must get involved and the paperwork doubles.
Archaeologists recognize the solemnity and respect that an exhumation
deserves. There is a certain excitement that passes through the excavation
site when a body is discovered. But it's usually excitement about what the
body can teach about when and how he or she lived. While uncovering a body
might sound fascinating, no human can look at the bones of another without
being reminded of her own mortality.

Archaeologists all dig in Egypt: FALSE
Egypt and archaeology have a long, complex, and often sordid
history together - but not all archaeologists are Egyptologists.
Egyptian archaeology is a specialized field called Egyptology. Most
archaeologists were drawn to Egypt at one time or another, and
we're all familiar with Howard Carter's famous discovery of
Tutankhamen tomb. But archaeologists tend to specialize in a
particular area, a geographical region, an aspect of human behavior,
or a time period. Unless that specialty is Egyptology, there's no

reason to think that a random archaeologist knows more about the pharaohs than the average
hobbyist.

Archaeologists get to keep their finds: FALSE
Archaeologists don’t get to keep any of their finds, whether it’s
gold, a well-preserved artifact, or just a souvenir potsherd. Even if
they could, there are very few archaeologists who would horde a
piece of the archaeological record. Archaeologists are scientists,
and with that role comes pride and professionalism. There is a
deep sense of desire in the archaeological community to make
information available to other researchers and to the public.
Archaeologists see themselves as the curators of humanity. We
don't like to keep things to ourselves. It would be like a librarian
stealing and hording books from the library. It's silly!

Archaeologists are running out of things to dig up: FALSE
There are two things that humans do really well. We explore new lands,
and leave trash behind when we do. The world is literally littered with
200,000 years worth of modern man's activities. Every country has
thousands and thousands of archaeological sites - most of which have
yet to be discovered. Many well-known sites, where excavation has been
ongoing for years, are only partially uncovered. For example, an
estimated one-third of Pompeii still lies buried. Digital and satellite
technologies have enabled archaeologists to locate thousands of sites
that were previously unknown. The image to the left shows the more
than 1,000 archaeological sites, most previously unknown, that are
visible from a car in England. These were compiled by archaeology
enthusiasts with the help of Google Street View technology. One
participant said, "It's amazing to think that out there beside our busy
roads is thousands of years of history just waiting to be discovered."

Archaeologists have to know a lot about history: FALSE
Most archaeologists (but not all) study prehistory – the time period
before writing. Writing appeared at different times in different parts of
the world, but even the oldest writing (cuneiform) first appears just
three thousand years ago. In both the New World and the Old, nonliterate societies flourished into modern times. Since anatomically
modern man has been around for nearly 200,000 years, and writing for
only 3,000 at most, about 99% of archaeology is prehistoric. Many
archaeologists enjoy history, and most have attended university, so
they know as much history as the next guy. There are also
archaeologists who specialize in excavating sites from historical
periods, such as classical archaeologists, Egyptologists, and historical archaeologists. But it's
important to make the distinction: archaeologists are not historians.

often microscopic. a forest. insects.There’s only one kind of archaeologist: FALSE Like any field. archaeology has its own branches and specializations. As well as the more "traditional" archaeologists. and other. weaving. They also study how humans impacted their environment. Experimental archaeologists recreate the behaviors of ancient people. Environmental archaeologists specialize in reconstructing past ecosystems in which people lived. pollen grains. usually within the past few centuries. to better understand how artifacts end up the way they do. there are zooarchaeologists who specialize in human-animal interactions. clues to find out whether a site was a swamp. Historical archaeologists specialize in cultures and sites for which writing is available. and help study hunting and animal domestication. and butchering. They look at soil samples. or a desert in the past. Last Updated: 25 October 2013 . They learn skills like flint-knapping. and work on applying those findings to modern environmental policies and practices.

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It involves three sub-disciplines of archaeology. the tangible and intangible culture of the modern communities. studying advanced techniques of modern communities may help to a certain extent to provide an insight into the rudimentary techniques.. They try to understand how the ancient people in a given region may have lived. the link between modern and ancient societies is of course still very ambiguous. Ethnoarchaeology is the science that deals with the ethnographic investigation of living communities in order to acquire knowledge of the past. in a way.. which tend to change by default over a period of time. By using ethnoarchaeological techniques. Nevertheless. zooarchaeology that deals with the study of ancient animal remains. species of plants and animals that are now extinct. a continuous series of droughts were responsible for the numerous societal changes and subsequent decline of the ancient civilization. natural deposits. technology. archaeologists. This is because. etc. According to his theory. This shows how artistic sensibilities travel from one time period to the other. they may be distinct from each other in many aspects. Ethnoarchaeology Dr. keeping as their basis. It involves the application of anthropological methods to a large extent. sediments. But. viz. Environmental archaeology answers questions relating to the kind of natural habitat that the ancient people were surrounded by. which may have been used by the ancients. Malti Nagar carried out an ethnoarchaeological study at a chalcolithic site of Ahar in Rajasthan. rocks. the plants and animals living in that age. climatic changes that took place over a period of time. and archaeobotany that studies ancient plant remains. religious and cultural beliefs. One can get valuable insights into ancient social structures. by applying the principles of ethnoarchaeology. India. . She found striking resemblances between the dotted designs on the clothes of the local tribal women and on the designs on the ancient ceramics recovered from the site.Environmental Archaeology Richardson Gill carried out extensive work in environmental archaeology in order to study the impact of climatic changes on the Mayan society. Environmental archaeology encompasses field studies along with laboratory experiments. and the effects that the changes in natural environment had on the lives of the people and on their subsequent disappearance. even if two societies share some common traits. attempt to link the past with the present. varieties of wild and cultivated crops. Environmental archaeology deals with the study of interrelationship between the ancient people and their natural environment.. animals that were hunted and those which were domesticated. etc. geoarchaeology that deals with the study of soil.

but also throws light on the affiliations of the society on the whole. natural calamities such as floods. It involves a small-scale excavation within a given area on an archaeological site. There are a variety of changes that landscapes may undergo over a period of time. which shows that first aid was available at the household level. Household archaeology is also helpful in studying aspects of secular art and architecture. Gender classification in the social order is an interesting aspect that can be studied by this kind of archaeological method. food habits of the people. landslides. Household Archaeology Dr. economic. and human induced changes such as agriculture.Landscape Archaeology A comprehensive study of a historical landscape with respect to the rise and decline of urbanism was done in the early 1950s by Bernard-Philippe Groslier in the Angkor region of Cambodia. landscapes have been classified into natural and cultural landscapes. both naturally as well as due to human intervention. Evidences revealed a number of surgical instruments from many houses. On the basis of this. cultural. for archaeological purposes. This excavation was carried out off the shores of the city of Alexandria in Egypt. and political sensibilities of the people of a particular household/family. their religious beliefs. clearing of forest areas. rivers changing their courses. the methods in landscape archaeology are also used in order to to analyze inequalities that may have prevailed in a social structure at a given period of time. industrial and construction activities. Landscape archaeology is a broad division in archaeology that deals with the study of the various changes that take place in different landscapes. etc. Penelope Allison of the University of Leicester had been excavating the household remains at Pompeii. . Underwater Archaeology Franck Goddio and his team managed to reveal the supposed lost palace of Cleopatra. processes of site formation. etc. which include vegetal and faunal remains. He uncovered numerous evidences to show that overexploitation of landscape was the main factor responsible for the decline of urban centers in the area. soil. tsunamis. and so on. Interestingly. which was believed to be submerged under the sea some 1600 years ago. These include natural changes with respect to topography. It considers every single household as a unit that not only portrays the social. and so on. The study of how landscapes and natural habitats are interlinked with human behavior and cultural changes is actually very extensive. pottery. Variety of evidences are taken into consideration in the study of household archaeology. Household archaeology is a comparatively recent development in archaeology that happened between the late 1970s and early 1980s. climate.

a part of one of its wings. there may be some legal constraints. bullet shells. Knowledge of specific techniques and methods that need to be adopted in order to carry out excavations underwater is a prerequisite. Battlefield Archaeology From 1985 . political and economic spheres of the society. Sometimes. skeletal remains. which can be overcome through adequate paperwork and permissions. and the like. and other inundated archaeological sites. etc. In short. and various artifacts related to . Aviation Archaeology In 2005. Archaeological evidences recovered from battlefields have the capability to alter those historical viewpoints which have been widely accepted and acknowledged. it becomes a separate division in itself. As far as the actual professional practice of aviation archaeology is concerned. a part where the ammunition was kept. Remains recovered from this excavation included the plane's engine block. is one of the most intriguing types of archaeologies. It is due to this reason that many people consider aviation archaeology as a branch of marine archaeology. Archaeologists practicing in this field attempt to discover submerged evidences by diving into the deep waters along with sophisticated archaeological tools. which are eventually recovered. This is because there are also a number of aviation archaeological remains found on land. The remains range from military remains to civil remnants.89. It is an expensive branch of archaeology and incurs a much higher cost than any terrestrial archaeological excavation. remains from aircraft crashes are found under the sea. bullets. However. Evidences on such sites include remains of implements of war. but this may only be true to a limited extent. Instances of ancient air bases found by aviation archaeologists have also been recorded. air-borne weaponry. it makes an exciting profession for adventure lovers. Aviation archaeology deals with finding historical remains of aircraft. it deals with everything that has to do with the history of aviation. Crash sites differ largely in magnitude and remains. etc. It deals with digging up battlefields of the past and recovering evidences relating to military activities. also known as military archaeology. An underwater excavation may also turn out to be a little risky at times because one cannot guess what the conditions under the sea would be like. abandoned air bases or runways. Battlefield archaeology. They gathered in the form of evidences. Hungarian archaeologists used methods of geophysical survey in order to locate a lost plane that crashed in Budapest during World War II. water-buried cities. It is associated with the study of underwater evidences such as shipwrecks. cartridge cases. Douglas Scott and Melissa Connor carried out the first ever large-scale excavation on a battlefield site of Little Bighorn in Montana. recorded and studied. USA.This is also known as marine archaeology or maritime archaeology. in which case. skeletal remains. which may have been responsible for subsequent changes in the social.

beads. Evidently. how they coordinated.C. things that were manufactured then. These so-called war sites give valuable evidences to events. Many a time. how the commodities were transported. This includes evidences with respect to the commodities that were traded and bartered. is also included in commercial archaeology. because not only actual battlefields but even military camp sites provide valuable evidences.military history. how advanced was their technology. Commercial archaeology is actually a sub-discipline of archaeology. is an interesting site pertaining to industrial archaeology. near Pondicherry. the tools that were used at that time. which took place not only during a given war. and has numerous remains of mining and smelting processes. located in New South Wales. at commercial sites. Industrial archaeology is another kind of archaeology. and so on. Artifacts recovered include Roman coins. what. ancient inscriptions are found. glassware and pottery. This was supposedly one of the richest sites for silver mining in Australia. Also. On the contrary. This is a very gripping study. which studies the material remains of industrial by-products and artifacts. which deals with everything that is related to commerce and trade. as it answers questions such as which countries had trade relations and in what commodities. it deals with the production of goods and the various processes involved in the same. what raw materials were used and where did they get them from. and attempt to answer queries like what people did other than agriculture (which primarily was the main occupation in many regions). battlefield archaeology is an engrossing case-study of how written historical accounts can undergo changes when actual material remains relating to the recorded events are uncovered. It does not deal with the movement of goods from one place to another. Commercial Archaeology In the 1940s. ancient forms of transportation that were used for commercial purposes. why did they manufacture what they did. war sites tell us how and when they died. numismatic finds. what were the media of exchange between them. South India. The study of ancient trade routes and sea ports. where and how did they manufacture. Evidences from industrial sites tell us about the industries that existed during a given period in history. All in all. which are obviously very valuable resources that are used for recording economic histories. Industrial Archaeology The Sunny Corner Mining site. this site was a fishing village and an important foreign trading port during 1st century B. Sir Mortimer Wheeler excavated at Arikamedu. harbors and marketplaces. Australia. just as all other sites tell us about how and when people lived. and so on. etc. statues. Evidences recovered from such sites generally . but also before and after it. who and what all was involved. which belongs to the late 19th and the early 20th century.

they attempted to recreate an entire settlement belonging to the Iron Age of 2nd century B. dams. But. time is a constraint. in understanding the prehistoric habitat and the rudimentary techniques that were used by prehistoric man to make his much-needed tools. The duty of the archaeologist then. if it is realized during the exploration that the site holds a prominent place in history. or any other kind of infrastructure development. It has to be noted. was a series known as Living in the Past. mosaics. in case of salvage archaeology. This has helped. In the course of this quest. mining. Because. Generally. that experimental archaeology is related to a large extent to the imaginations of the archaeologists. and ultimately record in detail all the finds that have been procured. in order to bring to life the life-ways of the ancient people. also known as rescue archaeology. and so detailed excavation is difficult to carry out. Salvage archaeology. however. most of the things. Salvage Archaeology The Turkish State Water Department proposed to build a number of dams on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in 1986. which was also aired on television worldwide. This experimentation of remaking or replicating things using the methods of the past is the core of the entire concept of experimental archaeology. Flint knapping or the replication of prehistoric stone tools is an interesting activity practiced in experimental archaeology. Archaeological finds ranging from pottery to structures are actually replicated using historical methods.include those related to activities such as manufacturing. they experiment with various processes.. buildings. with regards to the period in question. milling. Rescue excavations on the site uncovered numerous structures. The extent of this project also covered nearly half a mile of Zeugma. is to locate as many sites as possible in an assigned area. archaeologists tend to record whatever is found on the surface at the time of exploration. which helps to understand the past technologies as well as the resources available to them. to a large extent. Experimental archaeology is a kind of archaeological study in which archaeologists try to figure out how the archaeological deposits were formed. Here. stone sculptures. Experimental Archaeology A classic example of practical application of the methods of experimental archaeology.C. building roads and other infrastructure. etc. quarrying. etc. an ancient Anatolian trading center. Therefore. then detailed excavation can be carried out and can thus alter the construction plans in some way or the other. . Salvage archaeological operations are carried out on sites that are on the verge of being destroyed by new road constructions. and excavate them if deemed necessary. explore them. is a name given to an archaeological excavation which needs to be carried out in an emergency and with utmost urgency on threatened sites. which they think people might have applied in the past in order to make or manufacture all those things which make the archaeological deposit.

and to ascertain the influences on the remains of external factors that may have disturbed the crime scene. etc. and help the police to a great extent in the investigation of the occurred crime.especially structures.. Forensic archaeology is a newly developed stream and a very interesting one. Forensic Archaeology Law enforcement agencies went on to employ forensic archaeologists in order to investigate the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994. and trying to figure out the situation in which a particular crime might have happened. artifacts. They also try to find whether all the remains are in situ.html . and if not. are seldom found intact. Retrieved from Buzzle: http://www. Forensic archaeologists are generally employed by the security services in order to investigate crimes and catch the culprits. the replication mostly depends on the perception of the archaeologist. tool-marks. They proved to be of great help in locating the graves and in finding valuable evidences to be presented in the court of law.com/articles/different-types-of-archaeology. how and when they landed up where they currently lie.buzzle. footprints. Duties of archaeologists in this field of archaeology include collecting evidences like human burials. It pertains to the use of archaeological techniques in finding evidences on crime scenes. The findings of forensic archaeologists prove to be very effective in the court of law.

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com/articles/what-tools-do-archaeologists-use. it is necessary to have knowledge about what kind of tools do archaeologists use in these excavations. etc. The need of using bucket auger arises in excavations of floodplain situations. Digging tools help in breaking the soil crust and uncovering artifacts. Shaker Screen: The soil which is excavated by means of digging tools is sifted through shaker screens. Therefore. Shovels: Shovels are of two types. Total Station Transit: This tool is used to prepare a map of a particular archaeological site. material culture. The blade and handle of the mattock are perpendicular to each other. Excavation by archaeologists can be carried out in soft or hard soils. for the different locations and different types of excavations. Bucket Auger: It is a handy tool that is used in exploration of buried sites. The mattock is used to break hard ground and make the process of digging easy. Archaeologists find this tool particularly useful when they have to deal with square holes. their architecture and culture in general. biofacts. Plains Trowel: This kind of trowel facilitates working in tight/awkward corners and in keeping the lines straight. environmental data. i. Here is a list of the various tools used by archaeologists. Field Site Tools Field site equipment include digging tools. recording apparatus and safety kit. Since excavation forms an important part of archaeological studies.. This equipment has a ¼ inch mesh which helps in recovering artifacts that go unnoticed during excavation.. Dust Pan: It is a simple tool used in taking excavated soil away from archaeological sites in a neat http://www. The elements/details presented in such maps include surface topography of the site. and the relative location of artifacts. Mattock: It is a digging tool similar to the pickaxe.html 1/2 . The excavated items are studied after documenting them properly. commonly used field site tools and those used by specialists. Archaeology is all about discovering facts about past human culture to gain insight into the practices they followed. fossils.buzzle. different features of that area. The analysis and interpretation of artifacts. form important steps in further research. They have a sturdy body and flat blade which can be sharpened. the information about what tools do archaeologists use would prove to be helpful. Coal Scoop: This is another field site tool used in collecting and carrying soil to the screeners. architecture. Advertisement A science in which human culture is studied through the recovery of artifacts. Let us find out what tools archaeologists use in recovering artifacts. The archaeologists tool kit may contain two types of equipment.8/1/2015 What Tools do Archaeologists Use What Tools do Archaeologists Use For people interested in archaeology. positioning of the units engaged in excavation. they may even have to go underwater for excavations. round-ended and flat-ended. many different tools are required by them. The tool can be extended up to the length of 7 meters. The blade is broad and resembles a chisel. etc. Marshalltown Trowels: These trowels are commonly used in the United States.e. to carry out further research is known as archaeology. In few cases.

com/articles/what-tools-do-archaeologists-use. The various tools used in excavations and laboratories are of great importance in finding out details of artifacts.html 2/2 . the percentage of artifacts falling in different size-ranges are found out. Soil samples which contain artifacts are kept in metal baskets and washed by gentle streams of water. Nested graduated screens used for this purpose have small mesh openings at the bottom and larger ones at the top. In the process of size-grading.buzzle. http://www. Flotation Device: The flotation device is used to separate smaller and larger artifacts by the method of light and heavy fraction. It would be useful to find out why is archaeology important along with the information of tools presented above. 2015 Buzzle. seeds) float at the top. By Shashank Nakate Last Updated: September 21.8/1/2015 What Tools do Archaeologists Use way. Equipment for Analysis: Simple tools like calipers and cotton gloves are needed to carry out the analysis of artifact fragments. Tools Used by Specialists The archaeological tools mentioned below are mostly used in a laboratory environment. 2011 About Buzzle | Privacy Policy ©2000-2014. Different types of scales are used for finding out correct measurements. Gloves serve the purpose of preventing cross-contamination. while the heavier objects sink down. Archaeology is a vast discipline that uses artifacts as a means of delving into the history of past human civilizations. Weighing and Measuring: The artifacts obtained in excavations are carefully analyzed by weighing and measuring them. The information about what tools do archaeologists use in laboratories is presented below.com®. Nested Graduated Screens: Nested graduated screen are used for size-grading. All rights reserved. Light artifacts (for example.

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T|F T|F T|F T|F T|F 10. T|F 2. The Maya used looms to weave their own clothing. 13. The ancient Maya practiced bloodletting because they thought it cleansed their bodies. T|F 3. The Maya believed people were created from maize. T|F 7. T|F 8. Cacao beans were used to make jewelry. People living in different Maya cities all spoke the same language. 5. The Maya used wooden boards to elongate infants’ heads. The Maya sutured wounds with human hair. T|F 12. The Maya civilization extended from Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula to Panama. 4. The first Maya settlements are about 1. The Maya deposited the bones of hunted animals in sacred caves. 15. a sacred cenote was a sinkhole used for sacrifices. T|F T|F . 6.Maya or Myth? A True or False Quiz The ancient Maya were expert mathematicians. T|F T|F 14. 9. The Maya built stone columns called stelae to ward off evil spirits. The Maya put gold fillings in their teeth. scientists. Players in the Maya ball game couldn’t touch the ball with their hands or feet. 1.000 years old. T|F 11. In some parts of the Maya civilization. The Maya believed the number 13 was very unlucky. Take this True or False quiz to test your knowledge of the ancient Maya. and architects who believed in human sacrifice and sacred rituals.

a circular feature that established a dividing line between teams in Maya ball games 9. sort the items into the categories below. arrowhead ____ C. Part 1: Match each artifact with the fact about Maya culture that best describes it. On the back of this page. an item used to communicate with the gods 5.Ancient Artifacts Archaeologists are scientists who search for artifacts so they can learn more about ancient places and the people who lived there in the past. protective wear used by Maya warriors 7. highly decorated glazed pottery used for trade 3. shell goggles ____ H. stingray spines ____ F. a weapon made from obsidian. metate ____ B. tooth inlays ____ G. ARTIFACT: 1 2 MAYA FACT: 1. a vessel used to hold a sacred food 6. ballcourt marker ____ E. plumbate pot ____ J. cacao pot ____ A. 5 • Daily Life • Adornment • Ritual/Ceremony • Recreation . They make inferences and draw conclusions about the meaning of the artifacts to figure out how or why the items were used by a group of people. “Dig” through these clues to learn more about the ancient Maya culture. instruments used for bloodletting 10. a volcanic glass 3 6 7 9 10 4 8 Part 2: Make inferences about how the ancient Maya used the artifacts above. a staff used by a Maya king 8. dental fillings often made of jade and usually reserved for the Maya elite 4. an instrument used to grind maize 2. Write the letter that matches on the line. incense burner ____ I. scepter ____ D.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKED: Numbers 1 through 4 were written using a row of dots.STUDENT REPRODUCIBLE Name: (Page 1) Maya Number System The Maya number system is very different from the system you use daily—the Maya used only three symbols to represent all numbers! They used a dot to represent 1. and a shell to represent 0. a line to represent 5. The Maya wrote their numbers vertically and used zero as a placeholder. The Maya used a place value system based on 20s. not 10s like the number system we use today. The number 5 was written as a horizontal line. Numbers 6 through 19 were written using a combination of lines and dots. Many believe that the Maya were the first people to use a symbol for zero. 400s (20x20). or 5s and 1s. For example: • 6 was written as one line with one dot above it: (5+1) • 10 was written using two lines: (5+5) • 19 was written as three stacked lines with a row of four dots on top of them: (5+5+5+1+1+1+1) MAYA NUMERALS 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 . So the place values were multiples of 20s: 1s. 8.000s (20x400). 20s (20x1). and so on.

multiply the value of the Maya equation below.008 • 4.000 Maya Place Values + 400 20 1 – = Value of Number . numeral by the value of its place. one shell in the 20s place. and three dots above a line in the 1s place: (10x400) + (0x20) + (8x1) PART ONE: Find the solution to each PART TWO: To find the value of greater Maya numbers. and one shell in the 1s place: (1x400) + (1x20) + (0x1) 20 1 Value of Number 303 420 4.000 400 • 420 was written with one dot in the 400s place. Look at the examples below. Then add the values together. with the greatest value on top. • 303 was written as three lines in the 20s place. Write your answers using Maya numerals. the symbols were arranged vertically in place values. Calculate the value of the Maya numbers presented below. = x = + = 8. Each place value was 20 times greater than the one that came before it.008 was written as two lines in the 400s place. and three dots in the 1s place: ((5+5+5) x 20) + (1+1+1) 8. one dot in the 20s place.STUDENT REPRODUCIBLE Name: (Page 2) Maya Place Values For numbers greater than 19.