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Week 2 in the Lab
I was absent from class today as I was on my way back to virginia for Thanksgiving break. I'll be catching up on my lab work next week when I return
This week we began to work on our individual final topics. My final topic is "planning an exhibit and curation," so I spent the first part of class looking through the artifacts and thinking about how to approach an exhibit. Since this is historical archaeology, I decided to connect the artifacts to primary historical sources and to present the artifacts and sources in a chronological or thematic order. After picking out a few artifacts that I thought may be useful for an exhibit, I didn't have much else to do. So, I helped with the analysis of the artifacts by separating and labeling some of the artifact categories that were not assigned as final topics. Specifically, I separated and labeled mortar/cement fragments and plastics. I also briefly helped collecting and labeling brick and glass fragments. It looks like we only have one more meeting in the lab where I'll need to look through the artifacts more thoroughly and make final decisions about what to include in the exhibit (I still need to decide whether to include a representative sample of the artifacts or to include only the more interesting artifacts).
Today we each began to work on our own separate projects. Since mine was brick, my first task was to separate all of the brick pieces out by SU and trench for easier research later on. Each SU within each trench got a different paper bag. Unfortunately, there were so many brick pieces that it took me the entire class period to organize them all! Even with other people helping me, it took me the entire class period to finish. The hardest task was distinguishing between brick pieces and pottery pieces; some look so similar it is virtually impossible to tell the difference! I also counted the number of pieces from each level and wrote this on each paper bag. Next class, I will start weighing, drawing, and studying the brick pieces (probably the largest ones in particular) for my report. I haven't been able to analyze any bricks/brick pieces in detail yet, but I definitely discovered some large ones that could hold particular meaning for my paper.
Hopefully next time I will have more to report back on the progress of my brick study.
This week, each individual in the project began to work on his/her portion of the final report of our excavation. It will all be put together nicely so that people can reference what we have done. I, myself, am working on the stratigraphic aspect of our excavation for each trench. By studying the soil samples and the layers of each trench, interpretations of the artifacts can be more accurate. Some might say that I'm just looking at dirt, but it is more of a science than other may believe. This process takes a while and even in two hours, I wa snot able to finish what I had started (looking at the soil samples). Soon, I'll computerize the layers with Michelle so that there is a better picture of the layers of each trench.
This week we split up and began our final projects. Mine is on the glass fragments found at the First Baptist Church. We found so much glass, however, that I wasn’t able to finish collecting and organizing the pieces even with extra help! This coming Monday I hope to finally record all the data and start my analysis. Thus far, I have been recording the pieces by SU level and trench number. For each bag sample, I labeled the total number of pieces, the total weight, the glass color (number of fragments and curvature), and noted any “special” finds (ones that are embossed or have any other unusual features). Next session, I plan to take digital pictures and make drawings of a few noteworthy pieces (so stay tuned…). Depending on the nature of my finds, I will probably focus my research on the study of a particular type of glass either vessels or flat glass. I’m more inclined to study vessels because they have such a wide variety of functions. Hopefully, I’ll be able to identify some of them. Whatever happens it will be a fun investigation!
In the lab again today- but this time the focus was organizing the artifacts. Because I am doing a GIS based project, I was focused on filling in the gaps in the data, for instance where artifacts didn't have a date, SU number, or even trench ID. This turned out to be like a wild goose chase, trying to get to the dried artifacts before everyone put them in bags for analysis. Probably the most frustrating but ironic part of it all is that most of the SUs that didnt have numbers on them happened to be SUs I was working on- now I really know the importance of making sure everything is marked well!
I am excited to use GIS for the final project, but a little nervous as well. Using GIS in archeology is a very powerful tool, but few people at Brown know much about how to use GIS in the context of archaeological work. I can create very basic models, and know there must be a way to do a more sophisticated analysis of the data, but I am just not sure how to do it! Oh well- at least we will have some visuals that help anyone understand, even at a quick glance, what we found and where.
The second week of lab we basically spent going through all the trays and collecting our artifacts. In my case it was ceramics and it basically took up the entire 2.5 hours just to label all the bags and sort all the ceramics. And I didn't even have time to start waying the pieces or taking/drawing pictures. It was sort of ridiculous. Now the lab will be open a good bit of this week. I'd like to get most of my stuff done in class today, but I have a feeling there will be a long line at the scales. Thankfully I have my own digital camera so I can start working on taking pictures and drawing. I'm also thinking about taking my computer (although keeping it far away from dusty gritty artifacts) so that I can use some of the books in their as resources. I really want to look at last years report in hard copy. I have it downloaded to my computer but it's always easier to look at books. I also want to take advantage of some of the other resources in the lab