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Unearthing Passion


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One visit can change the trajectory of your life. That’s something that rings true for a group of sixth-grade students from Aliamanu Elementary School who found themselves on a journey that would change their views and spark newfound passions. And it all began with a visit with to the lab with James M. Bayman, a UH Mānoa archaeologist and professor.

Bayman knows firsthand how the power of a single moment can set you on a new course in life. As a young explorer, a curiosity about nature and fascination with ancient societies and cultures was enriched by his discovery of a remote archaeology site. “It was enchanting to find a place where past people lived their lives,” said Bayman.

Now he is paying it forward and sharing the joys and wonders of his field with a new generation of students.

The visit to the lab provided an interactive learning experience in archaeological research for Aliamanu Elementary’s sixth-graders, who are currently studying ancient Mesopotamia.

“Our sixth-grade students have worked hard to research the artifacts of Mesopotamia to understand how it told about history. For our students to be able to engage with real artifacts of history is an experience many would not have had without the help of Professor Bayman – for that we are truly grateful. This is a huge step in the efforts of the Radford Complex Area’s efforts to provide students with learning opportunities beyond the walls of the classroom,” said Sandra Yoshimi, Aliamanu Elementary School principal.

Armed with calipers and scales, students analyzed artifacts, noting weights, measurements and colors. After recording their findings, students participated in a critical analysis exercise that touched on how the artifacts might have been used by ancient civilizations in their hunting, cooking and eating practices.

“I thought archaeology was the study of bones of ancient creatures and the geography of pyramids and jungle sites. I learned that it also includes the study of small things like arrowheads,” marveled one student. “I learned that arrowheads were used by ancient people for hunting. Before I thought it was just something they held on to.”

Another student said, “I thought archaeology was like the science you see in movies, like mixing chemicals and stuff, but it is a lot more. I would 100 percent want to become an archaeologist now.”

The Archaeology Program is in the Department of Anthropology in the College of Social Sciences.

Additional news stories from the College of Social Sciences.

Professor Bayman and Aliamanu Elementary students.
Professor Bayman explaining the archaeological process to Aliamanu Elementary students.
Elementary student documenting the size, weight, color of artifacts.
Student documenting the size, weight, color of artifacts.
Elementary student analyzing the color of an artifact.
Student analyzing the color of an artifact.
Elementary student exploring the world through a microscope.
Student exploring the world through a microscope.