Its hands-on history every weekend this month at the Ocmulgee National Monument.
A free childrens pottery program will be held at 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays outside the parks visitors center.
Its a good hands-on project for children, and its something they can take home and keep and have a souvenir of what theyve learned here at the park, said Angela Bates, the interpretive ranger at the Ocmulgee National Monument.
The program starts with a tour of the parks museum, which features some of the more than 2,000 artifacts found during excavations of the site and information on the people who originally inhabited the site. Archaeological evidence indicates the area was continuously inhabited for nearly 17,000 years by people who included the early ancestors of the Muscogee Creek Indians.
They see the pots we found here that are thousands of years old, Bates said. Then we have a little two-minute video that shows them how to (make pots). Then they have a good idea of what they are going to do when they get outside.
The pottery-making follows a simple process of making a pancake for the bottom and then stacking and smoothing coils.
Its real simple, Bates said. Anybody -- whether they are 3 years old or older -- can make these pots. ... Its open to any age. Ive had all ages. A lot if the parents want to do one, too.
The people who first inhabited the area started making pottery about 3,500 years ago and continued until about the 1600s. This early pottery was dried using heat. At Ocmulgee, they used fire pits, she said.
Up until Europeans arrived we have pottery that ... was fired, Bates said. Modern pottery we found here -- that was different because it was made in England and they glazed it and then they fired it. The natives never did that. They didnt glaze it.
The park started the pottery-making program several years ago as a way to give children something they can touch.
Everything they see in the museum that the Indians had and was found here is behind glass. Its a way for them to be part of history and understand why they made their own pottery, Bates said. I explain to them they didnt have Wal-Mart back then; they didnt have stores. They couldnt just go out and buy their dishes or cookware. They had to make their own, and this helps them understand that.
Saturday events at Ocmulgee also include tours at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. of the Earth Lodge, which is believed to have been used for ceremonial purposes by the Mississippian-era people.
The park plans to offer the pottery program again in October.