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student looking through a microscope
Student exploring the world through a microscope.

One experience can change the trajectory of your life. That’s something that rings true for a group of sixth-grade students from Āliamanu Elementary School who found themselves on a journey that would spark newfound passions and open new possibilities. It all began with a visit to a lab with James M. Bayman, a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa archaeologist and professor.

person helping two students
Bayman explaining the archaeological process to Āliamanu Elementary students.

Armed with calipers and scales, students analyzed artifacts of Mesopotamia, noting weights, measurements and colors. After recording their findings, students participated in a critical analysis exercise that touched on how the artifacts might have been used by ancient civilizations.

“I thought archaeology was the study of bones of ancient creatures and the geography of pyramids and jungle sites. I learned that it also includes the study of small things like arrowheads,” marveled one student. “I learned that arrowheads were used by ancient people for hunting. Before I thought it was just something they held on to.”

Another student said, “I thought archaeology was like the science you see in movies, like mixing chemicals and stuff, but it is a lot more. I would 100% want to become an archaeologist now.”

Bayman knows firsthand how the power of a single moment can set you on a new course in life. As a young explorer, a curiosity about nature and fascination with ancient societies and cultures was enriched by his discovery of a remote archaeology site in the Southwestern U.S.

student looking at colors of an artifact
Student analyzing the color of an artifact.

“It was enchanting to find a place where past people lived their lives,” said Bayman.

Now, he is paying it forward and sharing the joys and wonders of his field with a new generation of students.

“Our sixth-grade students have worked hard to research the artifacts of Mesopotamia to understand how they told about history. For our students to be able to engage with real artifacts of history is an experience many would not have had without the help of Professor Bayman—for that we are truly grateful. This is a huge step for the Radford Complex Area’s efforts to provide students with learning opportunities beyond the walls of the classroom,” said Sandra Yoshimi, Āliamanu Elementary School principal.

The Archaeology Program is in the Department of Anthropology in the College of Social Sciences.

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