Edible Archaeology: Excavate a Chocolate Chip Cookie

May 13, 2020

Archaeologists keep careful records, as do all scientists. One important way to keep track of their work is by mapping where each artifact is discovered before it is carefully removed.

Hazara University Archaeologists in Pakistan

First, gather your materials:

• Chocolate chip cookies with lots of chips

• Toothpicks

• Paper towel or plate to work on

• Cookie grid

• Markers

Got it all? Great, let’s get started! So, you are going to excavate this cookie. The cookie represents the ground, and the chocolate chips are the artifacts. The toothpick is the tool you will use to carefully excavate the chips from the cookie. The idea is to get the chip out of the cookie while trying not to damage it. The other trick is to do as little damage to the cookie as well. Archeologists try to minimize damage not only to artifacts, but also to the land.

Archeologists also carefully document everything as they work. You will do this too by recording data on the cookie grid that you can print. You will record where the artifacts (chocolate chips) are located within the grid. It may help to have two copies of the grid so that you can record additional information as you work deeper into the cookie.

The Cookie Grid

Ok, ready? Grab your cookie, and put it on a paper towel. Next, use a marker to draw grid lines on your cookie, using the cookie grid sheet as a guide. It should match the grid on the worksheet as closely as possible. Draw the location of the individual chips onto the cookie grid.

Now, grab your toothpick and get to work excavating the chips from the cookie. Work slowly and carefully! When you remove a chip, place it on the corresponding chip on your grid map. Keep working until you have removed as many as you can without crumbling the cookie. Don’t worry if you don’t get them all. Archeologists rarely remove all artifacts from a site.

If you did a good job, it is time to reward yourself with a cookie! We don’t advise eating the cookie that you excavated, so wash your hands and enjoy a fresh one. 

Your contribution matters today more than ever, as we strive to ensure that the museum is ready and able to welcome you back. Please GIVE TODAY to help support our mission of science education.

As a part of HMNS at Home, I led a Facebook Live about cookie archaeology. Check it out below.

Join Kat Havens, Director of Curriculum and Content at HMNS, to explore archeology, then try your hand at excavating a chocolate chip cookie! This is part of our #HMNSatHome series where we bring fun learning activities to you! Our mission to continue developing educational content is more important than ever before. Your contribution matters. Give today at https://www.hmns.org/sa/index.php

Posted by Houston Museum of Natural Science on Monday, April 6, 2020
Authored By Kat Havens

As a native Houstonian Kathleen has watched HMNS change and grow over the decades. Her life-long love of cultures and all things rocks and minerals brought her back to HMNS after several years away. Well versed in almost all things museum as an employee and volunteer her goal is to share her love of learning with anyone who will stop long enough to listen (or read).

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