Illuminating the past – Enhancing the present – Inspiring the future

A lot of what archaeologists find is old rubbish but it is important because it is evidence of what people have done in the past.

Archaeologists look for things people have used and then thrown away or lost. They look for buildings people lived and worked in before they fell into ruins or were knocked down to build new ones.

They find this evidence in layers which have built up over time. These pictures will help you to see how this happens.

Wheelie binPICTURE 1
In this bin, each layer represents one day’s rubbish. On which day was the last rubbish put in? On which day was the first rubbish put in? Which day has the oldest rubbish? © Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd.

Which layer is the most recent? Which layer is the oldest? © Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd.

StratigraphyPICTURE 3
Which layer is the most recent? Which layer is the oldest? Find the rubbish pit dug by somebody in medieval times. See how the pit has cut down through a Saxon floor and a Roman road beneath this. The pit is full of jumbled up bits of building and objects from medieval, Saxon and Roman times. © Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd.

WhitefriarsPICTURE 4
The stacks of square tiles (pila tiles) are part of the hypocaust of a bathhouse. Which period of the past have the archaeologists dug down to? What do you think has made the big hole in the middle of the stacks of tiles? PICTURE 3 will give you a clue. What equipment can you see that archaeologists use? What other ancient building material can you see? © Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd.

21st century rubbishPICTURE 5
Identify as many items as you can. Does the rubbish represent a healthy diet? What different materials can you spot? Are any of the materials organic? Which materials would decompose fastest if this rubbish was buried in the ground for hundreds of years? © Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd.

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