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Parson’s Lodge sets the scene for a lesson in archaeology

By Nathan Barcio

An archaeological workshop at Parosn’s Lodge yesterday offered children an opportunity to learn about what it takes to dig up Gibraltar’s past.

The event formed part of the summer sports and leisure programme and is run by the Gibraltar Museum.

The workshop was attended by 11 children and led by SSCO Palaeolithic archaeologist Francisco Giles, together with operation manager and assistant education officer Paulette Anes and senior guide and site manager Phil Smith from the Gibraltar Museum.

The children sat around two sand pits filled with bones and artefacts, giving them hands-on insight into how archaeologists go about their work.

The children were told to imagine they were digging up a site on the Rock, working their way through layers in the ground, each with diverse items buried from different eras in history.

They aim was to find artefacts that would shed light on the history of Gibraltar.

Mr Giles explained to the children how they should treat the artefacts and how to record the information properly once they had been excavated.

The children were given several tools such as measuring tapes, brushes, pans , trowels and a bag in which they placed the artefacts and sand.

They were also given a sheet with a table to record the information and graph paper to sketch and plot the coordinates of each artefact.

These sheets are a copy of what is currently being used in the ongoing excavations at Gorham’s and Vanguard Cave, giving the children an accurate experience.

When digging the two sites, the children found several bones from different types of animals including a jaw, several teeth, vertebrae and even a skull, as well as pre-historic cutting tools and charcoal.

Once they found these artefacts they measured the coordinates onto their graph paper and plotted the information of each labelled artefact in a table.

Jake Pira, 9, found a deer skull as he excavated his part of the dig.

“It wasn’t that hard to find as the skull was popping out from the top,” he said.

He also found a piece of flint, adding: “If you hit it against steel it will make a spark.”

Jake enjoyed the experience so much he said he try to return next year.

Akim Kopriva, 12, was thrilled to have excavated a large bone.

“We are not sure what it is,” he announced.

“We still have to excavate other parts of the site before we move it because it could lead to a bigger picture.”

Clearly enjoying the task, he added: “You are constantly digging, you always have to be active.”

Isabella Milanta, 9, said enjoyed “being an archaeologist and finding bones and measuring them” at Parson Lodge yesterday.

She also found some flint that “the Neanderthals used for tools.”

Daniella Gafan, who is nearly 10, the jaw bone of an animal and another piece of flint, adding that it was amazing to think that it might have been touched by a Neanderthal.

Ian Ferrary, 11, found the jaw bone from a wild cat and, examining closely, noted that it came complete with a broken tooth.

Raphael Lhote, 10, uncovered two bones and was “trying to find out the width and how thick the bones are” so he could document them. The bones, he was told by the archaeologist, were from a goat.

He was digging with his friend Joshua Cuby, who is nearly 10, and between them both they tried to ascertain what part of the goat’s body the bones came from, concluding it was likely a leg.

Nathan Barcio is a student on work experience with the Chronicle.

Pic by Eyleen Sheil

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