OLogy: If Trash Could Talk

Take a look inside your trash can. What clues can you find?

When archaeologists dig, they’re looking for clues about life in the past. Most of these clues are found in the simple things people used every day, like pottery, and the broken things they disposed of in their trash.

Ancient trash tells archaeologists a lot about the past. It can tell you things such as how many people lived in a house, what kinds of activities they did, and what they ate.

In the past, people didn’t have their trash hauled to the dump every week. Ancient trash pits are often found near houses. Some things thrown into trash pits, like food, were biodegradable and would have decayed and broken down pretty quickly. Fortunately, other things like pottery and stone objects survive.

What does your trash say about you? Take a close look inside your trash can and think about the clues it offers about your life.

What are you looking for?


OLogy (American Museum of Natural History)

Website URL

Type of Resource

PDF File

Assigned Categories

Description of PDF

Trash checklist.