National Geographic’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre experience immerses families in the quest to investigate, document, and preserve the observed Tomb of Christ. Built on limestone, water eroded the foundation and years of candle soot marred the chapel’s interior. National Geographic documented the process of restoring and stabilizing the structure. This church is not the only place in peril. Looting, political unrest, erosion, or natural disasters threaten many historical sites worldwide.
Using new technologies, such as satellite imagery, LIDAR, and ground penetrating radar, scientists are able to discover lost cities engulfed by forest or explore the underwater remains of ancient civilizations that would have gone undetected and unstudied. While each site and its artifacts are unique to different ancient cultures, some features, like tombs, took similar forms across the world, and are still found in modern society. Here are some ideas, based on academic standards, to support and extend your child’s learning as they experience the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
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Impacts of Environmental Factors
Many archaeological sites around the world, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, are threatened by erosion from the air, water, or natural disaster. Talk with your child about how environmental factors such as rainfall, natural disasters, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions might harm historic landmarks such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Read about National Geographic Explorer Albert Yu-Min Lin's work to find and document archaeological sites in Mongolia, China, and Guatemala. As a family, choose an object or building of interest to research and document as a National Geographic Explorer. Describe the location and significance of your object or building in a short story, accompanied by a drawing or photograph.
Archaeologists may work on land, underground, or undersea. Learn about National Geographic Emerging Explorer Guillermo de Anda’s search for remnants of Mayan civilization within cenotes and caves by reading Underwater Archaeologist: Dr. Guillermo de Anda. Talk with your child about the skills and knowledge useful to an underwater archaeologist and one that investigates sites on land. Use a map to find oceans, lakes, or rivers your child would be interested in exploring as an underwater archaeologist.
Tombs of Ancient Civilizations
Burial practices have taken many forms throughout history. In some ancient civilizations and current societies, tombs house the deceased. Explore and compare tombs used by the ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Mayan cultures. Use Google Earth to find the geographic location of the tombs of King Tut, Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, and Lady K’Abel.
The remains of ancient cities are sometimes hidden by dense forests or buried underground. Learn how scientists are using satellites to make discoveries by watching Space Archaeology. National Geographic Explorer Fellow Sarah Parcak wrote the book on space archaeology and uses the tool often in her work. Use Google Earth to visualize the distance between Parcak’s discoveries, such as Egyptian pyramids or a Viking settlement in North America. Satellite image ©2017 DigitalGlobe.
Ethics of Archaeology
Excavation of archaeological sites is a common method used to uncover ancient structures and artifacts. Read How the Parthenon Lost Its Marbles to learn about the collection of marble reliefs and sculptures removed from the Parthenon in Greece currently displayed within the British Museum in England. With your child, research the controversy and discuss whether they think the Parthenon marbles belong in Greece or at the British Museum.