Sunday, February 15, 2009

February 12, 2009

It is important to let the people of Banda Naira know why there is a large group of foreigners walking into the forest every morning. Those who see us at the site may create their own stories as to why we are digging large, nearly perfect square and rectangular holes. At the end of the day I wonder what the villagers think of me as I walk back to the guest house covered in dirt from head to toe. The opportunity to give them knowledge in order to crush any scandalous rumors came up with the help of a local high school.

The students came out to the site and watched the various archaeological tasks that we were all assigned to. We were either in the pits digging, screening the soil, recording artifacts or doing flotation on the beach. The Indonesian students from the Universitas Gadja Mada and from the university in Jakarta translated the questions from the students and the explanations from the English speakers. The high school kids were then given the opportunity to rotate through the jobs in order to get a hands-on experience at doing each archaeological task. They appeared to be very enthusiastic about each of the different jobs. They were able to dig up their past in order to get a closer look at what their ancestors may have once used.

The high school students then gave guided tours of our archaeological site to the surrounding local villages. By having the hands-on experience of doing all the jobs, the young students were able to explain what was being done as well as what was found. At the screening stations, the students would look in and often pull out a small artifact that one of us had missed. Having those extra set of eyes looking through all that dirt was very helpful. They leaned in to look at the small coin pieces and the small beads which we had found. They listened intently as they walked around to each station with the students explaining each process.

Being able to share this experience with a local high school as well as the surrounding villages has felt rewarding. We are giving them an opportunity to see their past through the artifacts that are being found. Hopefully, someday, museum exhibition will be set up on Banda Naira displaying the history of this island to the local villagers.


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