Waring Lab Hosts Open House

Monday, April 13, 2009

Have you ever wondered how to make an arrowhead or what an ancient spear thrower or atlatl looks like? The Antonio J. Waring, Jr. Archaeological Laboratory’s Annual Open House will reveal secrets of museums and how archaeologists make their remarkable discoveries on Saturday, April 18, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine. The fun family event is free and the community is invited to attend.

Have you ever wondered how to make an arrowhead or what an ancient spear thrower or atlatl looks like? The Antonio J. Waring, Jr. Archaeological Laboratory’s Annual Open House will reveal secrets of museums and how archaeologists make their remarkable discoveries on Saturday, April 18, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine. The fun family event is free and the community is invited to attend.Visitors will tour the facilities and enjoy displays of many of the priceless artifacts carefully stored at the Waring Laboratory. Guests may also bring any item they may have discovered, especially local artifacts, for identification.

Anthropologically-themed games and activities will include a Mock Excavation Pit and demonstrations of arrowhead flinting. Besides projectile points, the Waring Lab will demonstrate an atlatl. These ancient spear throwers were invented thousands of years ago and are capable of launching a spear more than 100 yards.

The Waring Laboratory, established in 1991, serves as a university-based repository for existing and future archaeological materials recovered in Georgia. As part of the Department of Anthropology at the University of West Georgia, the laboratory is the only facility of its type in Georgia specifically designed to meet both academic needs and federal standards for the curation and management of archaeological collections.

Besides caring for artifacts, the lab serves the state as a teaching tool for students and the public on historic preservation, archaeology and environmental compliance.

Dr. Thomas Foster, director of the Waring Laboratory and professor of anthropology at UWG, considers community service an important part of the Waring Lab.

"The open house is one of our ways of reaching out to the public and educating about the importance of historic and cultural preservation,” said Foster. “In addition, our students benefit through civic engagement from community outreach."
One big draw is the pit, which will allow guests to experience how archaeologists recover sensitive artifacts from the ground while preserving the information destroyed by excavation.

"We have to excavate very carefully and document all levels of cultural items or else we lose the context of artifacts and very small environmental data such as pollen and other micro-botanicals,” said Foster.

James Spake is an expert in the ancient art of flint knapping, which is breaking small pieces off of large rocks to make shapes such as knife blades and arrowheads. He will share with visitors the history of arrowheads or projectile-points and demonstrate how they are made in his flint knapping workshop.

Foster will help identify artifacts and answer any questions about archaeology or the laboratory. The director is an authority on the Native Americans of the Southeast, particularly the Creek Indians.

The Waring Laboratory, located on Plant Op. Dr. across from the track field, provides unique opportunities for research and learning and is truly a hidden treasure in this community. For more information, call 678-839-6303 or e-mail ajwlab@westga.edu with any questions.