Saturday, July 31, 2010

Our final two hectic weeks in the lab

Here I am in the pacific port city of Guaymas, Sinaloa. After a nice norrth Mexican arrachera steak and a margarita, I'm resting up for the final day of the drive home. Whew, that was a hectic final 2 weeks in the lab. The previous post, by Angela, describes our petrographic sherd sample, one of our three massive sampling programs, all carried out during the last 2 weeks. We also picked a couple of hundred sherds for INAA analysis, and Adrian Burke picked around 250 pieces of obsidian for XRF source analysis. Each sampling program involved numerous searching through bags and boxes, cross-checking, measuring, etc. We take sampling seriously on this project, since we want the results of our technical analyses to represent various contexts, time periods, and artifact categories as well as possible. Why the rush during these 2 weeks? We needed to complete the seriation, so that we could assign the excavated deposits to phases, so that we could pick intelligent samples to monitor change through time (and other things). The seriation was not completed till just recently (I think we were too busy to post a description of this; maybe Angela or I can do this from ASU in the next few weeks).

Also, Adrian ran around looking for obsidian sources (one trip with Brad and Akiko and I to Las Palomas; and one trip just Adrian). The above photo shows Akiko and I on the hill of obsidian at Las Palomas. Brad and Akiko worked on the technological analysis of obsidian. Brad found some time to knap some of the Las Palomas obsidian (the preliminary report is, ok for bifaces, but not for blades). We got a bunch of miscellaneous cataloging done. Charles and Maria Stapleton stopped by for a day to finalize their report on censers. Kristin Nado spent several days cleaning human bone. I picked some more charcoal samples for C14 dating. Two Mexican students from the new archaeology program at UAEM, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, in Tenancingo (Rosario Endañú and Ali Sarabia) stopped by to help us for a while, and ended up with thesis topics. AND we reboxed the gound stone (it had been stored by provenience, and now it is stored by functional type). AND we got a number of new ceramic bags sorted. AND we pulled out ALL of the Aztec black-on-orange (even from already-analyzed bags) and re-sorted it (which had to be done before we pulled the sherd samples). All in the final 2 weeks of lab work. Wow, I'm amazed that we got it all done. Well, actually we only got 1/2 of the petrographic sample pulled. Now we could say that we ran out of time, but I'd rather say that we decided on a two-stage sampling and analytical process, so that results from the first batch will affect how we sample for the second batch. I could even come up with a citation or two to support multi-stage sampling. That sounds much better, doesn't it?

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