Archaeology LAB WORK AFTER FIELDWORK By Consuelo Taylor Spring 2008
Sorting Material The first step in processing material from a site is to determine where to start. Most of the work done in archaeology is not out in the field, but the follow-up work in the lab. What is seen here is actually material from 2003. Currently the lab has 4 years of material to work through. Without proper funding, there are not enough people to stay up-to-date on the lab work.
Labeling Material <ul><li>Bags of material are labeled by: </li></ul><ul><li>Site </li></ul><ul><li>Date </li></ul><ul><li>Unit </li></ul><ul><li>Depth </li></ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><li>Grandad 05 </li></ul><ul><li>Plot 03 </li></ul><ul><li>6/6/05 </li></ul><ul><li>2.45 mm </li></ul>
Sifting Material One of the most time consuming parts of the lab is sifting bagged material through several stacked screens. With three people, one page can take an hour or more to sift through. Shown here is the result of sifting through bagged material for seeds, bones, obsidian flakes, and other artifacts.
Examining Material Items are examined closely to determine their exact nature. Something that may be just a rock to the untrained eye could actually be a three thousand year old tool.
Weighing Artifacts Items are weighed to determine their mass. This tells about the nature of the artifact. Items under 100 grams are placed on the electronic scale. Heavier objects are placed on the manual scale.
Sorting Artifacts Artifacts are further examined to make sure that they are sorted correctly and no mistakes are made. Sometimes expert help is needed, especially when bones are involved.
Bone Licking High tech methods are used to determine if an artifact is a bone or rock. The difficult “if you lick it and you stick it, it’s a bone” method is demonstrated here by a Ph.D.
Labeling Material Once an artifact is sorted, organized, and weighed, it is labeled. Information includes weight, site, classification, unit located, date recovered, depth, and recovery method.
Cataloging Once artifacts are labeled, they are placed in clear storage bags with the labels and cataloged in the lab’s storage areas for later reference.
Experimental Archaeology Not all archaeology is digging and cataloging material. Experimenting is also done with artifacts or other materials to determine how they were used. This grants a more complete understanding of past cultures. Shown here is a replica of the hunting weapon the atalatl.
Atalatl Experiments Experiments are done with the atalatl to determine how it was used to hunt deadly creatures – like the dreaded crabgrass.
Atalatl Experiments A small flick of the wrist of a beginner that would only throw a baseball 15 feet can send an atalatl 80 yards or more. Atalatl darts have a range of hundreds of yards.