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VCU Archaeology

The Ways New Technology Can Make a Difference with Public Outreach: An Intern’s Perspective

by Lucia Aguilar, Intern, Virtual Curation Laboratory

Lucia Aguilar demonstrates her painting skills while Dr. William Kelso of Rediscovery Jamestown looks at her work

Lucia Aguilar demonstrates her painting skills while Dr. William Kelso of Rediscovery Jamestown looks at her work

Last spring I started searching for internships in Anthropology. I wanted to start my senior year by getting more involved in Anthropology and discovering new experiences outside the classroom. Dr. Means’s internship offered the perfect opportunity to do and learn something new. The Virtual Curation Laboratory has taught me a lot about the ways new technology can make a difference with public outreach, especially for the preservation of historical sites like Jamestown. I spent a majority of the semester painting printed copies of artifacts to give them a more realistic appearance. A large number of those artifacts came from Jamestown. I had never been to Jamestown before this internship and knew very little about the archaeology being done there or the efforts to educate the public about the site. It was amazing learning about the history being uncovered at Jamestown and I was surprised to learn that most of what is being discovered at Jamestown has only been found over the last couple decades. Many of the objects I had worked on earlier in the semester were organized into little educational kits for kids to interact with at Jamestown. It was a tangible way for kids to get excited about the extraordinary things being discovered at Jamestown and the amount of history still being puzzled together. It can be very challenging to get people in general to care about things like archaeology and historical sites, so to find new ways to get not only people but kids interested is a pretty big task.

Painted scute (right) alongside original scute

Painted scute (right) alongside original scute

Getting involved in the painting process and then seeing how these object were going to be used at Jamestown was pretty inspiring. It really got me interested in different ways to approach painting printed artifacts and bones to make them look realistic as well as different ways to use these objects as tools to educate the public and get them excited about history or archaeology. I unfortunately I will not be able to intern next semester, but still plan on staying involved with the lab and the work being done with Jamestown. This past Thursday, December 10th, I painted a sturgeon scute printed copy while looking at the actual scute that was found at Jamestown. I had previously had the opportunity to do the same with a dog jaw that has cut marks from the starving time. I was able to have these experiences thanks to this internship and the people working at Jamestown. It was amazing getting a chance to see the large number of items that have been collected at Jamestown and I truly believe that is it important to get the public to care about the importance of the site. I would love to try to develop easy games using printed realistic looking artifacts to get people and kids excited about historical sites especially at Jamestown.

Jamestown-themed chess set.

Jamestown-themed chess set.

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