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Class 6 at the International School of Geneva (La Châtaigneraie) has been investigating archaeology through an inquiry into how historical evidence can help us understand people in the past and people in the present


The class has been looking for answers to these questions:
  How do archaeologists work?
  How can historians really know what happened in the past?
  How can an artifact tell you about people in the past?
  What can cause historians to change their minds?
  What can we learn from studying the past?
Geneva and Swiss flags

A Geneva street scene

To begin their investigation,

the class visited two Archaeological Sites in Geneva (Switzerland)




The flag of the Canton of Geneva hangs on either side of the Swiss flag over the street in the historical section of Geneva.
Class 6 is studying the markings on a medieval building.  
Noting information at the Parking St. Antoine

Parking St. Antoine

When an underground parking lot was being built, workmen uncovered ancient city walls. These were left were incorporated into the walls of the parking lot.
Observing the walls at the Parking St. Antoine recycled block in the Geneva city walls
In the underground parking garage St. Antoine, students study the historic ramparts which were found, and preserved as one wall of the garage.
This roman stone was incorporated in the ramparts of Geneva. It had probably been shipped by boat from Nyon, and reused several times in Geneva.


The Archaeological Site under St. Peter's Cathedral

(Site archèologique de la Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Genève)

A long view of the site


add pic of the front of SP


open excavation of the Cathedral St. Pierre
The Cathedral we see today was begun about 1150 under the direction of Bishop Arducius de Faucigny. The foundations reach far underground, and incorporate stone from all the former constructions on the site, back to Roman buildings. The picture on the right,taken in 1979, can be seen at the Site, and shows the actual Cathedral without its floor, so that the ruins beneath it are visible. Visitors to the Archaeological Site of St. Peter's walk through these ruins, under the replaced floor of the church, and beyond, beneath the streets. This is classed as one of the major archaeological sites north of the Alps.

Click on the questions above to explore this archaeological site with Class 6

Click here for a chronology of the Geneva site


Archeology is a science of the passing times: time measured in different ways, and by different methods; time cut into various periods.
Studying archeology allows you to travel thousands of years back in time, to the time of the first people living in our area.

To find out more about archaeology,visit the University of South Dakota's Middle School Archaeology at

"... what is the archaeological imagination?

The point is a simple one - archaeology does not just an academic discipline producing knowledge of the past. Archaeology is part of a range of values, aspirations, desires, dreams, attitudes, stories that share an archaeological character. Ideas that digging deeply into something establishes authenticity; a fascination with ruin and morbidity; locating senses of identity in remains of the past; connecting collection with place in the pursuit of historical meaning; notions of the sacred aura of the artifact; attitudes towards garbage and leftovers; the uncanny sense of presence found in material remains; stories of deep origin, and the cyclical rise and fall of cultures.

The archaeological imagination takes us into the heart of the modern condition and its relationship with the past."

Michael Shanks, archaeologist and author, Stanford Archaeology Center, California Read Michael Shanks' writings about the archaeological imagination here


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This page was updated on 9 November, 2004 by K. Epps

Unless otherwise mentioned, all photos are by Katharine Epps.
Sauf mention contraire les photos sont de Katharine Epps