Rain Day = Lab Day
So it rained on Sunday, June 19th. It was supposed to be a public open-house day but we had to cancel on account of the weather. What does an archaeology crew do on a rain day? They sit in the lab and work on cleaning and identifying artifacts.
Cleaning artifacts is a dirty business. First, everything is covered in dirt and soil. Second, iron artifacts have corroded over time and stain everything reddish-orange. Ceramic artifacts need to be washed delicately with water. It all adds up to a big mess, but when you’re done, everything is easily identifiable and put away in new artifact bags for cataloging and storage.
Items are sorted, brushed, and then bagged again according to where they were found during excavation. Also, items first thought to be significant can be removed from the collection and returned to the site. I mean how many nails does one need to keep to figure out what type of nail they were using, right?
It’s not just cleaning that takes place on lab days, though. It’s also a chance to get caught up on paperwork and show students what happens to that paperwork after it gets back from the field. Mostly, its digitized with a scanner so that its is stored both in a physical form and digitally in case one or the other is lost to time, fire, or vandalism.