Edible Archaeology: Excavate a Chocolate Chip Cookie

May 13, 2020
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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. 

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

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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