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Topical Tuesdays from The Week Junior – Uncovering history

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This week's story is all about Nancy Grace, a detective and storyteller who finds clues from the past.

Nancy is part of the archaeology team at the National Trust, an organisation that preserves historic buildings and areas of countryside across the UK, and one of the most memorable moments from her 33-year career is the time she took a 4,000-year-old skeleton to the dentist.

As an archaeologist, she spends her days researching past human activities from clues that are left behind underground.

When a storm ripped up a tree in Dorset and revealed a crushed skeleton, Nancy knew she had to find out more.

With the lower jawbone in hand, she headed to her dentist. An X-ray machine was used to find out that the person had signs of gum disease. Further research showed that the person was roughly 26 years old when she died, about 4,000 years ago.

This PDF resource includes this article, as well as accompanying activity ideas:

  • Archaeologists spend a lot of time and money digging up evidence from the past. We already have a pretty good idea of how people lived in the centuries before ours; do we really need to find out more or is there always something new and interesting to discover? Debate this as a class or in groups
  • Imagine you are an archaeologist 4,000 years in the future and you have just discovered the remains of the house you are living in today. Write a diary entry for the day you made your find, describing the most interesting things you unearthed.
  • Imagine that you are the woman with gum disease from 4,000 years ago. Write a funny pretend recount of going to visit your Stone Age dentist.
  • The word archaeology comes from the roots 'archae', meaning old or historic and 'ology' meaning study. Find out what these words mean the study of: campanology, dendrochronology, glottochronology, ichthyology, ufology, vexillology.

To find out more about The Week Junior and to download its free resources, please go to schools.theweekjunior.co.uk.