LAW News​: What's Happening

Steering Committee Publishes Book Chapter About Event

15 March 2019

Members of the LAW Steering Committee recently published a book chapter about the event in an edited volume entitled Y La Arqueología Llegó al Aula: La Cultura Material y el Método Arqueológico Para la Enseñanza de la Historia y el Patrimonio [translation: When Archaeology Reaches the Classroom: Material Culture and Archaeological Methods for Teaching History and Cultural Heritage. The tome is edited by Alejandro Egea Vivancos, Laura Arias Ferrer, and Joan Santacana and published by Ediciones Trea in Spain.

This publication features various pedagogical approaches and delivery methods that have been developed in educational settings with the aim of bringing archaeology to the pre-college class-room. Despite common objectives, the examples of successful collaborations between teachers and archaeology educators are still presented as isolated cases, disconnected though they share the same aims and strategies. The intent of this edited volume, accordingly, is to present these diverse but united efforts, which are spread across  different geographical and cultural contexts,


in a cohesive examination of the theoretical and practical issues of archaeology in the pre-college classroom. This monograph targets an international audience of applied archaeologists, public archaeology educators, cultural heritage interpreters, and teachers. The 18 chapters by authors from several countries are divided into seven sections: introduction, a context for heritage archaeology, real public excavations, simulated public excavations, classroom curricula, experimental archaeology and material culture (which includes our contribution), and conclusions. Some chapters are in English and some are in Spanish.

Our invited chapter on Living Archaeology Weekend focuses on those aspects of the program targeting teachers and elementary school students. For over 25 years, Living Archaeology Weekend in eastern Kentucky’s Red River Gorge has been providing a hands-on educational experience to fifth-graders in an outdoor setting. Different from an archaeology fair in its immersive nature and post-event impacts, LAW gives students an opportunity to learn about the lifeways of past peoples by doing and observing their technologies. The chapter describes LAW’s educational goals and conceptual underpinnings, and briefly outlines its development. It describes the program and the event, paying particular attention to how LAW compares with archaeology fairs. The results of a formal program assessment of educational outcomes are summarized. Finally, the major factors contributing to the program’s longevity and success are considered and specific suggestions are offered about how to develop a similar program and how to plan and carry out an event like LAW.

LAW Featured During Kentucky Archaeology Month 2015

1 September 2015

Several public archaeology programs are planned in September, which Gov. Steve Beshear has proclaimed Kentucky Archaeology Month (KAM) to recognize the professional practice of arch- aeology and how this work has helped unearth a more complete understanding of the history of the Commonwealth. KAM is organized by the Kentucky Organization of Professional Archaeologists (KyOPA), and 2015 marks the third annual KAM program.


A highlight will be the 27th Annual Living Archaeology Weekend event. LAW will take place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 18-19, at Gladie Visitor Center in Red River Gorge. Much of the region is an archaeological district listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Hundreds of preregistered fifth graders will take part in demonstrations Friday, and the public is invited from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Demonstrations will include how to tan animal hides, weave baskets, make pottery, mill corn, make spears and weapon points, and throw spears with an atlatl. The event is presented by the U.S. Forest Service/Daniel Boone National Forest, the Kentucky Organization of Professional Archaeologists (KyOPA), and the Kentucky Archaeological Survey, a partnership of the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office and University of Kentucky Department of Anthropology.


Visit the KyOPA website for the complete list of Kentucky Archaeology Month activities.

Read All About It! Book Recommendations

23 August 2015

The Living Archaeology Weekend Steering Committee has prepared dozens of educational resources related directly to the LAW event, and these are available for free on our web site in the Education drop-down menu. Here are our suggestions for additional relevant publications on archaeology, Native American/American Indian culture and heritage, early pioneer history, and natural history. Selections for adults are followed by titles for young readers in the last section. The titles include Kelli Carmean's Creekside: An Archaeological Novel, pictured here.


Click here to download the LAW Reading List 2015 (pdf format, 1.6 MB)

LAW Anchors Kentucky Archaeology Month 2014

25 September 2014

Mr. Bob Stewart (right), Secretary of Kentucky’s Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet, attended LAW on Friday to present the governor’s proclamation declaring September as the month to celebrate Kentucky’s archaeological resources. Here is a portion of the Kentucky Archaeology Month proclamation:


Whereas ... Since 1989, Kentucky's oldest and largest public archaeology event, Living Archaeology Weekend, has been held each September in Daniel Boone National Forest to call attention to the important work of archaeologists and the important role archaeological sites play in teaching us about our collective past; Now, therefore, I, Steven L. Beshear, Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, do hereby proclaim September as Kentucky Archaeology Month and encourage its observance.


Several groups of school children took time out from their LAW tours to witness the proclamation presentation at the historic Gladie Cabin. Several dignitaries addressed the crowd (pictured at right). Mr. Craig Potts, the Executive Director of the Kentucky Heritage Council and the State Historic Preservation Officer, introduced Mr. Stewart, who then read the proclamation. Mr. David Breetzke and Ms. Christy Pritchard accepted the proclamation on behalf of the Kentucky Organi-zation of Professional Archaeologists, which coordinates Kentucky Archaeology Month. Dr. George Crothers, Director of the Office of State Archaeology, remarked about the rich cultural heritage in eastern Kentucky and across the Commonwealth. Ms. Helen Danser, Chair of the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission, and George Blanchard, the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, spoke about the importance of cultural resources to tribal communities. The Superintendent of the Daniel Boone National Forest, Mr. Bill Lorenz, commented on the long and distinguished tradition of Living Archaeology Weekend and the importance of archaeological sites protected on the forest.

Update on LAW Educational Research Project

15 September 2014

There are new developments about the LAW educational research project. In addition to the articles and book chapters described below, the lead researchers -- Gwynn Henderson of the LAW Steering Committee and Linda Levstik of the Univesrity of Kentucky -- published “The Beauty of Other Lives: Material Culture as Evidence of Human Ingenuity and Agency” in the online journal The Social Studies and “What’s Caught; What’s Taught: Children Interpreting Material Culture” in Winterthur Portfolio: A Journal of American Material Culture. Dr. Levstik published “Teaching History by Connecting Human Intelligence, Innovation and Agency” in Edutopia, an online resource for improving K-12 education supported by The George Lucas Educational Foundation. And, a history educator from Spain who heard Dr. Levstik’s presentation about the LAW education project at a Barcelona conference will be in Kentucky on sabbatical in Fall 2015 to study public archaeology in the Commonwealth and attend the Living Archaeology Weekend event! This level of assessment of a public archaeology program is quite exceptional and unparalleled. Congrats!

For More Information . . . The LAW Reading List

15 September 2014

The Living Archaeology Weekend Steering Committee often gets requests for more information about the subjects covered at the LAW event. So, we compiled an annotated reading list of over 50 books about general archaeology, Kentucky archaeology, and native and pioneer lifeways for teachers, students, and anyone who would like to read more. The books are divided by subject matter and by intended audience (general readers and young readers). The authors include archaeologists, Native American writers, novelists, and others. Click here for the complete list, then pour a cup of tea and curl up with one of these wonderful books!

courtesy Mark Wetherington, Jr.
Powell County Public Library Celebrates Ky Archy Month

2 September 2014

​In celebration of Kentucky Archaeology Month in September, Mark Wetherington, Jr., Director of the Powell County Public Library, has compiled resources on Kentucky archaeology for the library's patrons. He created a “seasonal selections” display at the library (pictured) spotlighting these items. The LAW Steering Committee created for library patrons special bookmarks featuring the LAW 2014 t-shirt design or the 2014 seed packet on one side and selected suggested readings on the other. We scheduled guest lectures at the library by two veteran LAW demonstrators, flintknapper and primitive technologies expert Johnny Faulkner and flute maker/player Barb Graham. We distributed flyers inviting library patrons to attend the Living Archaeology Weekend event. What is particularly exciting about this initiative is how it extends the impact of LAW beyond the event itself. We look forward to expanding this program into other local county libraries in the future.

Olivia Ruth Short Wins 2013 Student Essay Contest

29 November 2013

​The LAW student essay contest reinforces the cultural resource preservation goal of the event. In 2013 students from participating schools wrote short essays in response to the question “Why is preserving cultural resources in the Red River Gorge important?” We are pleased to announce that Olivia Ruth Short, a fifth-grade student of Wellspring Homeschool Community in Waco, Kentucky, received the award for Best Essay. Her essay included beautiful imagery, such as "learning about the past is like walking down a beauthiful road with knowledge trees." Olivia received a certificate in recognition of her accomplishment and other prizes. She also won a pizza party for her class and a complete set of Kentucky Archaeology Video Series DVDs for her teacher. Congratulations, Olivia! Click here to read Olivia's winning essay and learn more about the LAW student essay contest.

fifth-grade students using pump drills at LAW 2013
Continued Impacts of LAW Educational Research Project

29 November 2013

The LAW educational research project, which involved evaluating and assessing student learning about native technologies at LAW, is bearing more fruit! In October 2013, Gwynn Henderson of the LAW Steering Committee presented the results of the research in a paper entitled “Applying the Chaîne Opératoire ... with Kids” at the Midwest Archaeological Conference annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio. Henderson and collaborator Dr. Linda Levstik co-authored book chapter that will be published this year. “A Human Dependence on Things: Fifth-Graders’ Conceptions of Human Intelligence, Innovation, and Agency” will appear in New Avenues for Research and Practice in History, Geography, and Civics, edited by M.A. Ethier and E. Mottet (De Boeck Publishing, Brussels). The edited volume will be printed in both English and French, allowing the LAW-based research to reach an even wider audience of educators.

Gladie Cabin Gets a New Roof . . . And an Award!

7 May 2013, Updated 29 November 2013


Gladie Cabin at the Gladie Historic Site serves as the focal point of the pioneer technologies demonstration area at Living Archaeology Weekend. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989 for its role in the settlement and industrial development of Red River Gorge in 1875-1924. The log structure historically served as a single family dwelling, a hotel, and a post office. Frenchburg Job Corps worked with HistoriCorps, a non-profit organization specializing in historic structures repair, and the US Forest Service to replace the roof. Click here to learn more about the Gladie Cabin and the National Register of Historic Places. Click here to read more about the Gladie Cabin roofing project and see pictures of the work.


In November the Gladie Cabin Roof Project completed last May got a special “Behind the Shield” award in Atlanta at the 2013 USFS Southeast Regional Awards ceremony.  The Regional Forester, Liz Agpoa, gave this award herself in a new category that highlights the stories of people behind the Forest Service shield or badge. Pictured at right, Frank Beum, the Daniel Boone Forest Supervisor, conveyed the award to project coordinator Wayna Adams, member of the LAW Steering Committee and Daniel Boone National Forest Heritage Program Manager. Beum said Agpoa was impressed by the sheer number of people involved in the project, and seemed especially touched by the involvement of Dick Wengert, who initiated retiree partici-pation in the project and remained dedicated to it even as he battled terminal cancer. 


The roof is looking great and has inspired the staff at the Gladie Visitor Center to prepare a new program for the cabin. Center staff plan to develop interpretive material for the public and to eventually have costumed interpreters periodically stationed at the cabin, talking about the Ledford family and working in a vegetable garden.  It seems the new roof has given the cabin a whole new life! So, be sure to visit the Gladie Cabin at LAW or anytime year-round!

Kentucky archaeology, pioneer technology
primitive technology, Kentucky archaeology
LAW Educational Research Project: The Results Are In

22 January 2013


In 2011 the LAW Steering Committee initiated a collaborative project to evaluate and assess student learning that takes place at LAW, something that had never been done before. The educational research project was completed in 2012 and the researchers are sharing the fascinating results. Co-authors Dr. Linda Levstik (University of Kentucky), Dr. Gwynn Henderson (LAW Steering Committee), and Mr. Youngdo Lee (Glendover Elementary School) submitted a paper entitled "Teaching the Past in Place: Material Culture as Evidence of Human Ingenuity" for publication in the journal Social Studies and the Young Learner. It is the first of what they hope will be several articles discussing the educational effectiveness of Living Archaeology Weekend and follow-up in-class activities. Follow this link to read more about the LAW educational research project.

Andrew Rodriguez Wins 2012 Student Essay Contest

30 November 2012

​The LAW student essay contest reinforces the cultural resource preservation goal of the event. In 2012 students from participating schools wrote short essays in response to the question “Why is preserving cultural resources in the Red River Gorge important?” We are pleased to announce that Andrew Rodriguez, a fifth-grade student at Glendover Elementary School in Lexington, received the award for Best Essay. Andrew said "Cultural resources are very valuable. The information they hold could be irreplaceable." Andrew received a certificate in recognition of his accomplishment, a pizza party for his class, and a complete set of Kentucky Archaeology Video Series DVDs for his teacher. Congratulations, Andrew! Click here to learn about the LAW student essay contest.

primitive technology, Kentucky archaeology
teacher workshop, Kentucky archaeology
Second Annual Teacher Workshop a Success

9 July 2012


The LAW Steering Committee organized the second annual Teacher Workshop at Natural Bridge State Park in Slade. Teachers from Wolfe, Menifee, Scott, Fayette, and Henry counties participated. In collaboration with Steering Committee members, the teachers completed an activity called "Why the Past is Important" and a lesson plan on "Chronology: The Time of My Life." Teachers who attended LAW previously, like Youngdo Lee pictured here, provided valuable feedback for improving the event, and we reviewed the LAW Teacher Resource Packet with teachers new to LAW. The teachers especially enjoyed hands-on activities in which their students will participate: using pump drills, throwing spears, making cordage, and making corn husk dolls. Follow this link to learn more about the LAW teacher workshop.

Hannah Brooks Wins Inaugural Student Essay Contest

​13 December 2011

​The LAW Steering Committee initiated a student essay contest in 2011 in order to reinforce the cultural resource preservation goal of the LAW event. Students from participating schools wrote short essays about “Why preserving cultural resources in the Red River Gorge is important.” We are pleased to announce that Hannah Brooks, a fifth-grade student at Menifee Elementary School in Frenchburg, received the award for Best Essay. She said "it's important to preserve cultural resources because ALL those cultural resources mean something to people." Hannah received a certificate in recognition of her accomplishment. She won a pizza party for her class and a complete set of Kentucky Archaeology Video Series DVDs for her social studies teacher. Congratulations, Hannah! Click here to learn about the LAW student essay contest.

Kentucky archaeology
hospice quilt
LAW Visitors Make Hospice Quilt
23 September 2011

Students participating in Living Archaeology Weekend 2011 helped create this beautiful quilt for Community Hospice in Ashland, Kentucky. Using a method called “tacking,” the students tied each individual stitch to hold the quilt layers together. Quilt demonstrator Evelyn Morgan, an employee at the Daniel Boone National Forest Superintendent's Office,  completed the quilt with binding. At Community Hospice, local quilters like Evelyn provide quilts to each patient who comes into the facility. Quilting was a technology essential to the survival of early pioneers and continues today as a form of art. Students at LAW not only learned about this craft, but they contributed to an important public service project.