Rubbish Pit Challenge

This is a very simple activity that requires no preparation and can stimulate interesting conversation in students. One of the ways archaeologists learn about the cultures they study is through analysing the artefacts (rubbish/trash) that are left behind.

Materials & Tools:

  • Image (below)
  • Paper (optional)
  • Pen/pencil (optional)


Copy the image (below) onto paper or project to a screen. Distribute the paper and pens (to suit your activity)


The purpose of this activity is to study the image and consider the following questions (click on the image for clues):

  • What objects can you identify?
  • How many objects would survive if buried for hundreds of years?
  • Do any of the objects have a specific use?
  • What type of tools can you identify?
  • What type of food / food-waste can you identify?
  • What would this diet tell you about the type of people that left this rubbish?
  • Is there any evidence of where these people may live?
  • Is there evidence of special skills or industry?
  • Is there any evidence of trading?
  • How many different types of animal remains can you identify?
  • How have these people used animals to help them survive?
  • How did the people collect their food?
  • How was the food prepared before being eaten?
  • Are you likely to come across a campfire like this today?

Further Activity Examples:

  • Compare with modern-day rubbish / trash
  • Discuss where modern-day rubbish / trash ends up
  • Create you own version of this image for real, using the things you would use at a campfire
  • Discuss different "natural" food sources where you live
  • What tools could you made if you had to survive alone
  • How would you make a fire without matches

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