Lucy Sinclair

Introducing kids to Australian archaeology: using active participation and narrative

Archae-aus is one of Australia’s largest cultural resource management companies which specialises in Indigenous archaeology, particularly in Western Australia. As part of its corporate responsibility initiatives, Archae-aus runs mock archaeological digs with primary and high school students in the local community. The main aims of this voluntary program is to give students hands on experience in archaeology, to promote an understanding and interest in archaeology and most importantly, to educate younger generations in the value of protecting cultural heritage – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
A number of key archaeological concepts are addressed and include:
1. Stratigraphy: The mock dig demonstrates how we dig down into the past; students excavate through visible ‘layers in time’ from the modern day down through to pre-colonial times. Dating techniques are also discussed, with examples of indirect and direct dating.
2. Objects are the remains of past behaviour: students find objects, including stone tools, campfires, pottery and modern day rubbish, all of which are able to provide clues about the people who used them.
In addition, the program focuses on Australian archaeology where students encounter the types of objects that may be found in an Australian assemblage. A narrative is told about the ‘life’ of a stone tool which was used by an Indigenous person 1,000 years ago and this is compared to a pottery piece that was used by a settler 100 years ago. The narrative demonstrates that all artefacts, regardless of culture, follow a similar ‘life’ pattern of production, use and discard.

Archae-aus Pty Ltd (WA)
Link to Archae-aus Pty Ltd


Lucy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours in Archaeology) from the University of Western Australia in 2006 and has worked as an archaeological consultant in Western Australia for the last five years. Archae-aus has been her primary employer during that time and its work is focused on Indigenous heritage in the Pilbara region. Lucy has also worked on Indigenous and historical archaeological projects throughout the Western Australia. Lucy believes that sharing our archaeological experiences and knowledge with school students enables a better understanding of different cultures, a deeper appreciation of cultural heritage and helps to contextualise the world in which we live. ‘Active archaeology’ appeals to most of the senses and captures the imagination of children in a unique and powerful way.