Friday, March 20, 2015

We always tell people that it takes 5 days in the lab for every 1 day archaeologists spend in the field. But what does all that lab time look like? Let's take a look!

I've been working on a small project with the University of North Florida Archaeology Lab. Dr. Keith Ashley has been directing a project out at the Mill Cove Complex along the St. Johns River in Jacksonville. Lots of materials have been recovered: shells, faunal remains, lithics, pottery and even exotics like copper and ochre. I've been looking over the ceramics found in one component of the site, in hopes to compare them to other components.

This is just one of the bags: over one hundred pieces!
Each sherd is cataloged separately. We collect information like paste/tempering, weight, thickness, surface treatment, designs and modification.

Some tempering agents, like sponge spicules, can only be seen under a microscope.
Thickness can help us determine what part of the vessel we have: rim, body or base.

When we're done looking at the individual pieces, we can also look at the pieces to try to determine what the pots would have looked like before they broke. We can determine the orifice diameter based on the arc of the sherds. We can also look at the shape and size of the pot based on the profile of the pot sherd. Sometimes we're even lucky enough to find some that fit back together!

Charts like this one help us easily identify the diameter of the pot as well as the percentage of the vessel.
We create a database with all of the pottery information that can be manipulated to look at type, size, design and more. Next step: writing all of that information up in a report!!

Stay tuned for an update on the findings! For further information, check out some of Keith Ashely's article about the Mill Cove Complex.

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