Student Wins Vermont Archaeological Society Essay Contest

Scarlett Wu with VT Archaeology Award
April 1, 2019

Sophomore Scarlett Wu won the Annual Vermont Archaeology Month High School Paper Contest held by the Vermont Archaeology Society. She is pictured here with Christie Ertel, Secretary of the Vermont Archaeology Society, and Social Studies Chair David Eckhardt.

SJA Sophomore Scarlett Wu won the Annual Vermont Archaeology Month High School Paper Contest held by the Vermont Archeology Society, taking home a price of $500. This is the second year in a row that an SJA student has won the award. The prompt for the this year’s contest was, “What is your favorite archaeological site and how has it affected nodern culture?” Scarlett’s paper was on her favorite archaeological site, the Terracotta Army of Xi’an China.


The VAS website describes Scarlett’s winning essay: “Our winning paper provided vivid examples of the range of ways that an archaeological site affects modern culture. Scarlett Wu’s paper on her favorite archaeological site, the Terracotta Army of Xi’an China described the site’s capacity to inspire awe in her as well as to appreciate the craftsmanship of a past culture as we discover that each of the 6,000 figures have unique facial features. Archaeological research at the site has offered new insights on how the artists living in the Qin Dynasty were able to create the Terracotta Army and many of its associated features. Furthermore, she detailed how the archaeological discovery has contributed to modern-day archaeological methods by spurring the development of new techniques for conserving and protecting delicate artwork and material culture that is exposed to rapid changes in environmental conditions.”


Scarlett’s essay begins: “Three years ago, I visited Xi’an, China with my family. I can still remember how I was amazed by the spectacular scenery of the Terracotta Army. When more than 6,000 terracotta warriors stood in lines in the pit before your eyes, you would find that was way more powerful than any image in any textbook. However, at the age of fourteen, I didn’t know how huge the influence of the discovery of the Terracotta Army has brought to the world. It reveals much about the Qin Dynasty cultural society and manufacturing skill, and promotes the development of modern arts and technology as well.”


The conclusion of Scarlett’s essay reads: “Overall, the Terracotta Army has a hugely influenced modern culture by picturing the Qin Dynasty cultural society and manufacturing skill and promoting the development of modern arts and technology. What’s more, the army is only part of a garrison in Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum. Most of it remains unearthed. Excavation and restoration of the terracotta figures are ongoing. More terracotta figures are about to be unearthed: no one knows what is going to be the next surprise.”


David Eckhardt, Chair of the Academy Social Studies department, said, “We are grateful for the VAS for providing this opportunity for our students. This essay contest affords them the chance to write for an authentic audience, and I am pleased and proud  that SJA students have won this contest for two years. Archaeology serves as an anchor for the Social Studies.”


Headmaster Tom Lovett said, “I am very pleased that teachers like Dave Eckhardt are giving students a chance to showcase their skills in regional and state contests like this, and I’m very proud of Scarlett for her winning essay. These contests give students a chance to reflect on important issues and topics, and to have Scarlett do so well is a real testament to her ability and the talents of those who have taught her.”

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