Thursday, January 20, 2011

I recently began a weekly trip back to my old stomping grounds.  Before my job as FPAN Northeast's Outreach Coordinator, I worked as the City of St. Augustine's Archaeology Assistant.  It started as a little bitty data entry job, adding lists of analyzed artifacts to a digital database, but over time the job became a full-time position.  As I saw where help was needed, I spent time organizing files and digitizing documents and photos from the City's excavations.  It may not have been a glamorous job, but it was work that needed to be done.

Working away in my old office at the City's lab.

Nowadays when I go into classrooms, I make sure to tell students that archaeology isn't just digging. For every man hour spent in the field, about five are needed in the lab.  I worked with the City's volunteers to analyze artifacts and manage office needs, maintain records, and do some fieldwork.  I left 2 1/2 years ago. Carl briefly had another assistant, but the position is now unfilled due to budget issues.


Volunteers analyze part of the City's vast artifact assemblage.

As that job has stood vacant, a little part of me has pined for the work that I did; I love my work with FPAN and wouldn't change jobs if you paid me (no really!), but those files became my babies.  Maybe it sounds silly, but I spent hours putting each file in order, then ordering them all in a system that Carl and I devised to  access them easily for research.  The idea that the system could be compromised--Carl, after all, has his hands full trying to keep up with his own work--just broke my heart. 

A fraction of Carl's 20 years worth of site records.

Luckily part of FPAN's mission involves supporting local governments.  As City Archaeologist, Carl's archaeology program qualifies!  As a result, I will spend one morning a week assisting City Archaeology with its lab and collections.  It's not nearly enough time to do all of the work, but I hope it will significantly help the program by maintaining order and updating the collection database.

Before I can start, however, the City must unpack the lab.  Carl's lab and offices recently moved from the Government House in the heart of downtown St. Augustine to a renovated warehouse owned by the City, just west of US 1.  Walking through on my first visit, I couldn't be more thrilled.  There is ample space for collections, a lab, offices, and plenty of room to grow.  It was a thing of beauty, and just the facility that the program has needed.


As for me, I started my work by reuniting with my babies, my files. I spent the first morning unpacking files-- 20 years of City digs-- and lovingly placing them in their new cabinets.  It was good to be together again.

Pictured above: me, the labors of my love.
 Some photos courtesy of St. Augustine's Archaeology Division.  To learn more about the City's Archaeology Program, visit http://www.digstaug.org/.

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