The weather has finally turned, and for the past few weeks we have been processing our finds from the Moses Brown Site in the carriage house. We began by carefully cleaning the artifacts with a wet or dry toothbrush depending on the material we were dealing with. We did this over the course of two class periods while simultaneously noting any interesting details that were uncovered during the cleaning process. Throughout the process it was critical that the finds remained with their respective lots and contexts in order to facilitate accurate analysis in the coming weeks.
Today, 11/28/16, we started with a clean slate. Everything was brushed, dried, and placed into a fresh, clearly labeled context bag. The time was ripe for data entry—a tedious, but crucial step. Each of us brought our laptops and we inputted the data into a shared Google spreadsheet. We recorded the site name, date of excavation, excavators’ initials, recorder’s initials, trench, context, lot, total number of artifacts in the bag, number of artifacts of a specific type, any special finds, any joins found between finds, and any general notes.
The class looks over the newly inputted data for any mistakes.
Each person had their own bag and inputted their own data. Great care was taken to prevent an accidental mix-up with a neighbor’s bag—an incident that would have ultimately skewed our data and would impair the accuracy of our analysis. Overall, the digitization of our finds did not take long. However, after everything was inputted several errors were discovered. Some bags were mislabeled with missing dates, excavators, and incorrect trench numbers. These mistakes were resolved through a collaborative effort. We each examined our excavation diaries, and together were able to locate the information that would otherwise have been lost. This experience provided a perfect example of why we recorded our daily experiences on an archaeological excavation.
Once the data was recorded the spreadsheet was organized into two sections—one for each trench. Each section progressed from the earliest date of excavation to the latest. This enabled us to see how occurrences of specific types of finds varied based on depth in each trench. It will be a great help as we start to analyze and interpret our data. In addition the digitization of this data will enable any future researchers to quickly access and examine our finds. Although the process may not have been riveting, its importance is undeniable.