9th Experimental Archaeology Conference poster – Sheils McNamee

Excavating experimental archaeology: The reconstruction of education through reconstruction of the past

Nuala Sheils McNamee


Archaeologists and anthropologists have been advancing their knowledge about the day to day lifestyle of past peoples through experimental archaeology for over 100 years, however it has never been recognised or utilized fully as a legitimate teaching tool within the educational system.

This poster will examine the results of various experimental archaeology experiences and evaluate if they satisfy the curriculum criteria. This study will hopefully contribute to determining how experimental archaeology can be used as an educational technique and whether it should be used.

The study investigated what the educational results were when partaking in experimental archaeology activities. It focuses on the how the reproduction of an activity can produce, simultaneously, a similar learning outcome of historical and archaeological information to each participant, whilst stimulating a more progressive curiosity of the topic.

To achieve these research goals interviews and observations were conducted with different groups within the educational system. These groups partook in varying experimental archaeology activities and their feedback gave mixed types of data to the project. These groups include:

  • First year undergraduates studying archaeology
  • Instructors of and experimental archaeologists
  • Students partaking in experimental archaeology modules
  • Participants of the Young Archaeologist Club (YAC)

The results of this research will be paired and compared to the educational theory behind various curricula and whether or not it meets its criteria. Hopefully answering the question, how effective is experimental archaeology as a teaching technique and could it ever be moved forward in the teaching of archaeology and history?


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