Dig Days offer outdoor history lessons


A CHALLENGE facing many parents this summer will be finding ways to save their children from being swallowed alive by their computer games.

One of the more intriguing programs, which will combine getting educated with getting a little dirty, is Archaeology Dig Day at London Town in Edgewater.

There are several Dig Days -- Saturday, and the Saturdays of June 17, July 15, Aug. 19 and Sept. 16. These will be combined with Dig Days for grade schools already in place through June 7.

The Saturday digs take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Work is appropriate for ages 14 and older, although those younger are welcome if accompanied by an adult. No experience is necessary. A bag lunch and drinking water are recommended. Information can be obtained at 410-222-1919.

Al Luckenbach, Anne Arundel County's archaeologist, supervises the digs with help from other professionals. Although the project has public relations and educational value, it is not an amateur undertaking."We count on people to help us sift dirt, find artifacts - do all those things you do at an actual dig," he said. "All of this information provides important clues to our colonial past."

They work on 5-foot-by-5-foot squares, the standard archaeological test unit."We are working on a whole series of buildings that once was the center of a thriving town. It was a very urban streetscape built in the late 1600s and early 1700s. It is clearly one of the largest hand-excavated sites in Maryland," he said.

Artifacts include the original brick, fragments of ceramics, glass and clay pipes. (London Town in its colonial day was a major tobacco port.) Black stains in the ground, evidence of posts that supported the structures, are vital, too, defining dimensions and footprints of old buildings.

Discoveries, and celebrations of them, are commonplace.

Other youth-oriented programs include:The Shady Side Rural Heritage Society offers its Children's Summer Educational Series for ages 6 to 10 from July 17 through July 21. Classes will include a look at colonial and 19th century life and will take place at Captain Salem Avery House Museum on Shady Side Road. Students must pre-register. Fee is $30. Information: Melissa Brown at 410-867-0970.For something novel (excuse the expression), the Anne Arundel County Public Library's Summer Reading Program 2000 runs from June 12 to July 28. It will be open at all 15 branches for children from preschool through the 12th grade. The public school and private school with the highest percentage of students registered for the program will be awarded the Chesapeake Cup.

Summing up

Christmas in April Anne Arundel County reports that nearly 900 volunteers worked on 28 houses on April 29. County businesses and residents provided more than $40,500 and at least $250,000 worth of in-kind donations, including skilled and unskilled labor.

Christmas in April is a one-day blitz of painting, planting and fixing for households that usually cannot afford the work. The group is always looking for sponsors to underwrite its projects.

Call 410-268-8242 if you want to chip in.

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