Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lab lab blab bla blog

As ALL of you should know by now, we have started to process materials from DSCQHSR in the lab facilities on campus. Now I want to warn some of you: before you get your hopes up about chem tables, lab coats, fancy machines that go *ping* and closets full of materials at our disposal, this is an archaeology lab. Which means it is a facility located in the least desirable place on campus (a basement) and is slightly larger than a maintenance closet. It could be worse: I've worked in a lab that was converted from a bovine invitro fertilization clinic. No joke. Count your blessings.

After the coordinated efforts of Richie, Charles and myself, and the wisdom of Margie, we managed to clear space, and muster up trays and washing utensils to process our finds. There was some talk of 'letting Dr. Miller' know what we were up to, but I chuckle to myself about him wandering in and finding unknown artifacts in the cage and being reminded that yes, indeed, there is an archaeology field school offered through the department this spring. Surprise!

The lab experience is favored by some students of archaeology: it is here you get a clear look at what is being recovered in the field. As time goes on, and as we become more judicious in what we bag from our screens, we will see less rocks and more 'artifacts' in the lab. Remember: archaeologists are only interested in modified or manufactured materials, we aren't interested in rocks unless they're modified or part of a structure. Item 2 to remember: if you bag it in the field, it still needs to be processed in the lab. Save yourself the time down the line and determine whether something is worth saving in the field. If you're not sure, always ask one of the crew chiefs, but by now everyone should be pretty familiar with the cultural materials we are concerned with documenting and saving, as well as the size of certain materials like Tile (if it is smaller than a quarter, don't bother). Rocks: if they're not smooth, shouldered or rounded, chuck 'em. Pretty rocks are indeed pretty, but not useful to us archaeologically.

We plan to hold lab hours next Wednesday and Friday, and we need to get started documenting these materials and constructing a database to quantify this data for our final reports! David B. has provided artifact labels and a spreadsheet template for data entry. This Wednesday, 25 May, I will have students continue with washing artifacts, and begin creating labels and entering data for our site surface finds and individual units. Busy week ahead!


  1. I will be available before Noon on Wednesday if anyone wants to get in there early. With some instructions I'm sure we can get started on the basic work. If anyone is interested in coming in before noon please contact me through BB email.

  2. Ugh, I'm sooooo jealous that I don't get to do any lab work with you guys! I'm going to a wedding this Memorial Day weekend up in Oregon, and I always have to run from my MW classes straight to work in Berkeley. I'm sorry I won't be joining you! I'd love to see all of our our < strike >pretty pretty rocks< /strike > historically significant artifacts all shiny and clean and logged and stuff. I hope you'll post some more photos after next weekend! :)


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