After we finished digging at Moses Brown, we started to process the materials we had unearthed. We traded the two trenches for the indoor comforts of the Carriage House. The first step in processing the materials was cleaning. We brushed away layers of dirt from our objects with toothbrushes. We put a great deal of thought into what objects would be cleaned with water and what would be dry brushed.
Off the bat we knew that the metal objects were to be dry brushed. Some of the other items were a little trickier to clean. For example, there were a couple of fragments of shell from one of the trenches. We tried to clean it gently with water, but even this was too harsh for the delicate fragments and it began to chip. I was surprised to find that we could use water to clean the charcoal pieces without it disintegrating.
The pottery was by far the coolest to clean. The dirt gave way to a smooth, polished surface. Without the dirt, we could see even more detail in the transfer printed white ware’s designs. Up close, we could make out the hundreds of dots that depicted the floral motifs. After we cleaned the objects, we set them out to dry in carefully labeled racks.
In the second week of cleaning tragedy struck. Someone in the class (let’s just blame it on Josiah Carberry) left two metal fragments unattended and they got separated from their labeled bag. Now we essentially know nothing about these scraps. Catie and Eve referred to them as the “sherd of shame.” While we all felt like the third grader who killed the class hermit crab, it was a great reminder about how important it is to focus 100% when interacting with artifacts in any way.
In our Carriage House sections we also learned about object photography. Kathryn Howley, a post-doc in Egyptology, gave us an in depth talk about photography in archaeology. There were several cameras for us to play with and we photographed a few of the objects. While many of us had used a camera, we had never done this type of photography. It was awesome!
We spent our last section in The Carriage House taking dimensions and cataloguing our objects. We hope that future Archaeology of College Hill classes can use the materials we found at Moses Brown in their research!Charlotte Tisch ’17