This post is from Andi, a member of the 2015 field crew:
I decided to attend the archaeology field school at EckleyMiners’ Village sponsored by the University of Marylandbecause of my love of material culture. I am especially curious about the meaning of artifacts and how they can affect people’s lives – past and present.
The Back Street Girls and I started finding artifacts as soon as we began our survey work with shovel tests. We continued to find material culture when we started to excavate test units. In some of these units we found pieces of a Lysol bottle as well as fragments of a blue painted shell edged dish. We also found a stove handle, and a portion of a porcelain crucifix, as well as the sole of a child’s shoe. While some artifacts are pieces of a larger object, they still provide a perspective into the lives of the families that lived in the double house.
Megan and Camille have both taught me a lot about artifacts. The artifacts must be thoroughly cleaned without being damaged. Most non-porous artifacts, like ceramics and glass, are washed with water and a toothbrush.
Other artifacts need a different cleaning technique. For example, bone must not be submerged into water, but rather brushed clean. After the artifacts have dried we label them. All similar artifacts are placed in individual bags. For instance, wire nails and cut nails each get their own individual bags. Glass and ceramics are easily labeled because they have a smooth and flat surface. A minimum of 20% of each bag must be labeled. Labelling begins by placing an archival paste called B72 on the artifact, then it is labeled with the site number and catalogue number. Lastly that number is coated with a top coat to protect the integrity of the catalog number.
The final step is to catalogue the artifacts and place this information into a data base. At this point the artifacts are described in more detail and this information can later be accessed for a more complete study of the site.