Week 10: ExARC Showcase Data

This final week of the term represented the culmination of all our hard work this Spring: we held an Experimental Archaeology Showcase. We had eight different stations, each manned by the pairs who did the lab summary for their respective weeks. So, myself and Julia were at the woodworking station, because we did the lab summary for the woodworking week.

Before getting into my observations, I will list a couple of caveats which could affect the data I gathered. First, the way the woodworking station was set up, we had two components: the shavehorse, where we gave visitors debarking demonstrations, and the final tent we made. However, these two stations components were about 20ft apart, so we were frequently moving back and forth to ensure that one of us was able to present about each part. Secondly, because I was doing things like debarking demonstrations and fielding questions about the tent, it is possible I missed some data about the rest of the showcase.

I would not hesitate to call the showcase a success. We attracted at least 20 people, from some of our guest experts (Maeve Gaethje, Martin Pansch, and Nancy Breaker) to some friends of the program to some intrigued onlookers from the nearby STEM ice cream social. By far the most popular station was the cheese station. Many people tried the cheese that Ashton was aging, and the reviews were surprisingly positive. One person said it was among the best cheeses they ever had, and another said they would return to next year’s showcase specifically for the cheese.

Another small cohort was also interested in the woodworking station. The general consensus seemed to be one of surprise that a group of amateurs could process timbers and assemble a functional tent in only four hours. Likewise, another common reaction when debarking was fear that one overly-aggressive stroke could lead to the debarker slicing their chest open — something which is physically impossible on a shave horse. Despite this, people seemed willing to step outside of their comfort zone, whether it was trying a cheese that had been aged for eight weeks or stripping the bark away from a timber.

Jack removing the knots from this timber, to make it easier to debark
The woolworkers, Elek and Margaret, weaving and carding, respectively

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