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Meet the ‘Ancient Dust Busters’: a new outreach programme funded by the Wellcome Trust

Posted on 19 October 2021

Children between the ages of 7 and 11 will benefit from this inspiring programme.

Ancient crafts and archaeological artefacts often capture people’s imagination. Experimental archaeological methodologies allow a better understanding of technologies used in ancient times. One of the main focuses of archaeologists in engaging with the public has been of a practical nature, aimed at communicating how objects were made. Health impacts of many ancient crafts, however, remain nearly invisible. We are pleased to announce a new outreach program is kicking off to fill this gap! We are introducing ‘The Ancient Dust Busters’: the first outreach program aimed to communicate the importance of air quality and oral health in the built environment to children via archaeology and natural History. 

This innovative, multidisciplinary  programme aims to capture the imagination of children between the age of 7 and 11, who are  already attracted by ancient crafts, and draw their  attention to the invisible airborne by-products generated during the ‘making’ of objects we all admire in museums. It focuses on respiratory and oral health, as well as the natural resources around us, promoting a new awareness about the physical hardship created by pollution in ancient, and modern working and natural environments. You can begin to explore the Ancient Dust Busters resources on our website. They will include stories, games, quizzes, colouring books and fact sheets. They’re all free to download! Our first activity is now available, and new ones will be uploaded every other week or so from now on! 

The project is a multidisciplinary close collaboration between Dr Anita Radini - a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in Medical Humanities at the Department of Archaeology and at the JEOL Nanocentre -  and York Archaeological Trust. It uses novel approaches, including storytelling and age appropriate dolls, and it includes an exhibition in 2022.

Meet the ‘Little Ancient Dust Busters’- age appropriate dolls adapted to provide a link between children and laboratory environments.

York Archaeological Trust plans to engage with groups of school-age learners in the UK and elsewhere in the creation of the Ancient Dust Busters exhibition, to be hosted in York in 2022. YAT and Radini are also working with international collaborators and cultural mediators, and the resources created are being translated into multiple languages (Italian, Greek, Arabic). In doing so, the team is exploring how we can communicate research outputs to children in different cultural settings. The project is funded by a Wellcome Trust Research Enrichment: Public Engagement Award (Grant Number 209869/Z/17/A).