Children doing archaeology


The project aims to teach children to do archaeological field research in their local environments and to show them what scientists do by making them do it themselves. In this way the adult population was incorporated into what was happening in the village – an important fact for the success of the overall project “Ferrum Noricum” from 2003 in Hüttenberg.

Children doing the excavation © Dr. Brigitte Cech

Children doing the excavation
© Dr. Brigitte Cech

Argument for inclusion

Pupils learn to work with the same methods as professional researchers do and they contribute directly to the results of the project.
Lively and interesting school subjects for children were held. Pupils learnt to exhibit the finds in a successful final exhibition.

Relevant information in short

Main Research Partners

Univ.-Doz. Dr. Brigitte Cech, independent researcher, Vienna
Honorary Research Fellow, Institute of Archaeology, University College, London, Habilitation at the Department for Prehistory and Early History, University of Vienna
Ing. Josef Tschannerl, Institute of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing; Vienna University of Technology

Educational partners

Primary and secondary school of Hüttenberg

Other partners

Touristische Anlagen Hüttenberg, local authorities of Hüttenberg

Age classes

6 to 14 years

Thematic orientation

Archaeology, History

Main Focus

Archaeology, Roman history

Duration of activity

Spring until June 2007, the overall project “Ferrum Noricum” 2003 - 2008


Austrian Science Fund and „Iron Route“ - Alpine Space Interreg IIIB;
REC supported by Austrian Science Fund (3rd prize in science communication). One month of preparation and the realisation of the REC was funded by the Austrian Science Fund. During the excavations there was good support by the local authorities


Contact person

Dr. Brigitte Cech

Context and conditions

From the 1st century B.C. until 4th century A.C. Hüttenberg was a very famous centre of iron production. Within the project “Ferrum Noricum” an important historical economic region of Austria is opened up.
The REC “Children are Doing Research” forms part of the overall project “Ferrum Noricum Hüttenberg”. This project was started in 2003 and is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the European Commission in the frame of the project „Iron Route“, Alpine Space Interreg IIIB. Annual excavations with the contribution of an international team of archaeologists take place in Hüttenberg. In the year 2006, a corner of a Roman building was found. The exposure of this building was the goal of the field research in the framework of this REC.
Starting from the idea to involve the local population of Hüttenberg in the excavations of this regional archaeological research project, Dr. Brigitte Cech planned the collaboration with the local schools. This idea won the 3rd prize in a competition of the Austrian Science Fund about communicating science to the general public. The local authorities and the heads of the primary and the secondary school in Hüttenberg were enthusiastic about the project from the very beginning and they shared the responsibility of planning and of coordinating the collaboration.

Activities and Contents

The local schoolchildren took part in the excavation of the Roman site at the place of finding Semlach/Eisner in their home village. Before the archaeological fieldwork started, presentations to introduce the pupils into archaeology and to inform them about the historical relevance of Ferrum Noricum and the Roman Iron Production were held by Dr. Brigitte Cech and by the students of archaeology in school.

Surveying the archaeological site © Dr. Brigitte Cech
During the excavations, the pupils were supervised by the project leader and accompanied very closely by the students. In the second week, they were introduced into the methods of surveying by Ing. Tschannerl, who was supported by the Institute of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. They learned how to survey the archaeological site, how to recognize archaeological features and how to excavate and document them.

Accompanying workshops and project lessons on the culture of Romans were held in school, so that the pupils could acquire background knowledge. Special attention was given in the classes to introduce the children to the treatment and inventory of archaeological finds, above all ceramic finds.

They cleaned and inventoried finds such as coins, glass, metals, pottery or bones by themselves.
The Research and Education Cooperation between the archaeologists and the children ended with an exhibition of the finds, worked up and presented by the children in the tourist mine Knappenberg. In that way the children also learnt how professional presentation of finds is carried out in museums. During the classes they prepared samples, original finds as well as their own creative work pieces. In order that everyone could get an impression of the enthusiastic contribution of the children, the exhibition was enriched by photos about the REC, done by a professional photographer who accompanied the children and researchers during the first week of excavations.

Children are washing and classifying the finds © Dr. Brigitte Cech

Children are washing and classifying the finds:
“The bones were ugly…“

The collaboration between pupils and researchers was so successful that some of the children volunteered to help at the excavation during their summer holidays.

Methodologies and curriculum relevance

The project partners (teachers and the project leader) of the REC, agreed on a common teaching style. The preparations started in spring 2007 with meetings in the school to timeframe and plan the project together. For a good preparation of the active work with the children, Dr. Cech prepared teaching material about “Culture and daily life of the Romans” and provided it to the teachers. So the teachers´ and the researchers´ look into the theme were congruent and too much additional work for the teachers was avoided. The REC started in school with presentations done by the project leader and the students of archaeology to introduce the pupils into the work of the scientists and into the historical framework – the Roman history in general and Roman iron production in special. So the children got an idea of the work of archaeologists and built up a relationship to what was happening in the village during the excavations since the year 2003. The whole REC was an important step to involve the local population of the village Hüttenberg into the overall project “Ferrum Noricum”.

During the excavations each pupil was accompanied by a research partner, so that an intensive occupation was possible and the usability of the finds was assured.

Experts introduced the children to scientific methods: general surveying techniques, such as levelling, using a theodolite, in inventories and documentation of finds.
The children prepared a final exhibition – so they learnt on the one hand how professional presentation of finds is happens in museums and, on the other hand, they had the opportunity to contribute creatively: the opening of the exhibition was enriched by theatre performances and songs, paintings served to give additional information. So the children looked into the theme of Roman history from various points: they contributed to research, but also a creative aspect with the theme.

In parallel to the fieldwork, classes with workshops and projects were held. For example in religious instructions they learnt about the Gods of the Romans, in cooking classes a Roman dish was prepared, that was served at the opening of the exhibition.

The contribution of the children in the REC caused an increasing interest of the general population of Hüttenberg in the ongoing archaeological project and in archaeology in general. In addition, there was an impact on the researchers´ understanding of how to address scientific ideas with pupils. The results of the excavations done by the children also served to the scientific team – so the ownership of the pupils in the REC was high.

Evaluation /feedbacks

The REC was evaluated before it started. Dr. Cech took part in a competition and a committee appointed by the Austrian Science Foundation evaluated the submitted ideas. At the end it was evaluated by the pupils. Their feedback was very positive.


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