Field Work Ends - Lab Work Begins

We're all finished with the fieldwork for our Phase I. All in all almost 70 shovel tests were excavated, covering pretty much the entirety of the yard (except for areas with buried utilities).

Here's a basic sketch map of the shovel testing. All of those black triangles are shovel tests where artifacts were recovered. It's a little overwhelming.

Here's a basic sketch map of the shovel testing. All of those black triangles are shovel tests where artifacts were recovered. It's a little overwhelming.

Typically in a Phase I most shovel tests won't contain artifacts, so it's easy to hone in on areas that require further study just by following the positive tests. In our case nearly every singe test contained something! So what do we do from here?

Although archaeological material was scattered across the entire yard there are areas with much larger concentrations. These are probably associated with historic trash dumps. There is also a spot with an unusual concentration of rocks that may point to a foundation. Before we find out, though, we have to complete the Phase I. This means processing the artifacts.

All of the artifacts recovered are currently sitting in individual paper bags. There are a lot of bags - 60 to be exact.

That's a whole mess of artifacts. Some bags contain a single artifact, while others contain dozens.

That's a whole mess of artifacts. Some bags contain a single artifact, while others contain dozens.

Each bag corresponds with a particular provenience or location in the survey. This pertains not only to the shovel test, but also to the soil layer that the artifacts came from. Like I mentioned in an earlier post it is essential to record where the artifacts came from so that we can learn from their spatial relationships to other artifacts and to the site. All of this provenience data is recorded on the bags, as are the contents, date excavated, and the excavators. To simplify things going forward I have assigned each provenience its own sample number, so I only have to write that number down but will still know where things came from.

The next step in processing everything is to wash the artifacts. Not only will this make my analysis easier, but it helps to preserve the artifacts as well. It also allows us to get better pictures of the things we've found, so keep an eye on the blog over the next week or so!