15th May 2017:

Oxford Archaeology is facilitating a programme of educational sessions for primary schools, and a complementary exhibition and associated events on the topic of bioarchaeology. The project is a collaboration with the Wellcome Genome Campus and genetics storytelling expert Amanda Hartley of The Little Story Telling Company (TLSTC)

OA has been involved in archaeological investigations at Hinxton Hall Park and the Genome Campus Extension in south Cambridgeshire for over 20 years. The work has been carried out by Oxford Archaeology East on behalf of the Wellcome Trust, who is also funding two monograph publications that will detail the full results of the excavations.

Louise Loe from OA’s Heritage Burial Services in Oxford and the Human Evolution team at the Sanger Institute on the Genome Campus have taken samples of ancient DNA (aDNA) from human remains found in Hinxton as part of wider study into East Anglian population history. The research culminated in the publication of a joint paper in Nature Communications in January 2016 which also featured in the CBA’s British Archaeology magazine at the end of last year.

The aim of the schools’ project, called ‘Strands of Time’, has been to demonstrate how the pioneering work of genomic scientists in the recovery of aDNA has transformed archaeologists’ study of people in the past in recent decades. OA’s Community Archaeology Manager Clemency Cooper and TLSTC’s Amanda Hartley have teamed up to develop and deliver 16 workshops to Year 4, 5 and 6 pupils at eight schools in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk this half term. The workshops blend together elements of Key Stage 2 history and curriculum in a series of hands-on and discursive activities to analyse the archaeological discoveries made at the Genome Campus and link these to the DNA sequencing technologies in current use by the Wellcome Trust’s researchers.

Following the school-based activity workshops, the primary schools will work on a classroom project inspired by the archaeological and scientific content using resources to support their own research. These will be presented in a mini schools’ conference held at the Wellcome Genome Campus’ conference centre in July.

Coinciding with the schools’ conference, there will be a temporary exhibition in the Wellcome Genome Campus Cultural Zone called 'Hidden Lives: a story of discovery'. This will include some of OA’s archaeological finds from Hinxton, including human skeletal remains, to show how combined genomic and archaeological research can reveal both individual stories from the past and shed light on our shared history. The exhibition space is open on the third Saturday of the month for drop-in visits, and at other times for special events. Group visits are also very welcome, by arrangement. For more details and booking, see the Wellcome Genome Campus’ Public Engagement website: http://publicengagement.wellcomegenomecampus.org/