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World Archaeology Festival

The It's All Academic Festival isn't the only event on campus on Saturday 10 June. UCL is also host to the Festival of Culture and the World Archaeology Festival. Catriona Martin-Lennie and Erin Niles spoke to us about their work developing activities for the day.

We are Masters Students at the UCL Institute of Archaeology (IoA), and through taking the Museum and Site Interpretation (MSI) course we were involved with the World Archaeology Festival (WAF). This is an annual event run by the UCL Institute of Archaeology, as the Institute’s contribution t or t national archaeology festival run by the Council for British Archaeology; the festival aims to increase public knowledgeability about archaeology through fun family-friendly activities! The festival is also an opportunity for the IoA to show their research to the public, which is especially important this year due to its 80th anniversary, which we focused our project on.  The role of our MSI course was to create several activities and a family trail for the festival, as well as conducting audience research and evaluations, and developing a marketing strategy within a £2000 budget.

Our team consisted of twelve people spread across three teams with different responsibilities - the Management Team ensured that all deadlines were met, liaised with the WAF committee and provided general management support for the team; the Audience Research/Communication and Evaluation Team were responsible for market and audience research for the project, and publicising the event; and the Activities and Family Resources Planning and Development Team developed activities for our contribution to the event as well as the family trail. Our total contribution to the festival includes: five of the around eighteen activities that will be present on the day, the logo for the event, some of the event’s marketing, and the event’s title, ‘Around the World in 80 Years’.

We focused on the IoA’s 80th anniversary for this year, and our team was keen on promoting the cultural diversity of the Institute's research. This was the case because many of our team members are taking the Cultural Heritage Masters course at the IoA. We also wanted to explore the idea that archaeology is contemporary and all around us, and highlight the scientific processes of archaeology. We wanted all of our activities to present new ways of viewing archaeology as a discipline - we wanted to break away from the stereotypical and images of archaeology just being about digging! 

Once we had our theme in place, we worked as a team, fully committing to our roles, and likewise were treated as professionals and colleagues by our course coordinator and fellow WAF committee members. Each team had their own goals and deadlines and were responsible for seeing these through; these were set by the Management Team in order to make sure that the project ran smoothly. Each team worked on their own areas of the project, but also there was a huge amount of collaboration between teams on issues and ideas that were relevant to the whole team. Through meeting regularly - and due to being a small team - we bonded and worked well together, and I’m sure we can all say that this project has made us closer and we have become good friends out of this experience!       

Due to the harmony and diligence of our team, we produced work that we are all proud of. From the design of the flyers, the website and the logo, to the five amazing activities and family trail, our team managed to create a section of what is bound to be a great event in only a short twelve weeks. The final activities that our MSI team created are:

● Mask Making, where our visitors are encouraged learn about the similarities of cultures through time through decorating masks

● Sands of Time, where those who take part can take away their own slice of history! Visitors of all ages will learn about archaeological dating techniques through using coloured sand and bottles to create their own stratigraphic site and understand depth in relation to time

● Sensory Silk Roads will transport visitors to a tea trade market, and allow them to hear, see, smell, touch and taste aspects of the Silk Road!

● Wall Art, where visitors can learn about the developments of wall art throughout the world, and then can draw on our wall with different mediums and techniques and express their creativity! 

● Piecing Together the Past consisted of different puzzles where visitors will learn about the grid system and can problem solve to try and find bones and artefacts within the puzzle!

All of our activities have incorporated our themes, and are all linked to work that has been done by archaeologists at the IoA. The work of the IoA archaeologists past and present are also heavily featured in our family trail, which ties into our activities, but also allows the children (or adults!) to take away puzzles, games and recipes to do at home! Our family trail narrative is based on our interest in cultural diversity and the research done at the IoA, and also on the IoA’s very own therapy dog Indy who is our mascot! Indy is travelling around the world in his hot air balloon and loses all of his archaeological tools, so his animal friends around the world help him find them (whilst learning some archaeology of course!)

As well as our activities, the WAF will have many talks, tours and activities going on and there really is something for everyone! From the ‘Bloomsbury Blitz’ tour to learning about conservation, the WAF shows archaeology from all angles, and we hope that you can come and both learn something that you didn’t know about archaeology and have a great time! The WAF is completely free and there is no need to book, so come and visit us on Saturday the 10th June at the IoA for what is going to be a great event!

The World Archaeology Festival takes place from 12pm-5pm on Saturday 10 June. You can find out more on their website.