Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lab Reorganization

By Angela Huster

Having finally worked out both context and chronology for most of our excavated lots, we’re now in the process of separating the material that we want to keep from that which will be discarded once we have permission from INAH. Ceramics currently fall into one of four categories – Already classified, to keep; Already classified, to discard; To classify, then discard; and To briefly skim, then discard. We are keeping classified material from the domestic context sample and a handful of other contexts, while most of the lots that are being skimmed and tossed are from plowzone, slopewash, modern terrace fill, or other mixed contexts. Like all archaeological collection storage, deciding what to keep is a fine balance between the available storage space (and cost), the research potential of the material, and the odds that anyone will actually get around to looking at it in the future.

This process has resulted in two simultaneous sets of activities. Judith, Delfina, and Janeth are consolidating the lots in each of the first three categories. They’re moving the lots that we’re keeping to the shelves against the back wall of the lab at the same time that they’re moving the lots to be discarded toward the front of the lab so that the boxes will be easier to haul out of the lab.

At the same time, Julia, Shelia, and I are skimming the lots from very marginal contexts for miscellaneous items (figurines, spindle whorls, pipes, molds, etc), and good examples of decorated types to add to the type reference collection. This has been unexpectedly productive, considering that the lots were skimmed once when they were originally washed. We have found three spindle whorls, at least four figurines, a ceramic lip plug, and a reconstructible (if highly eroded) tripod bowl, among other things.

At this point, the entire process has been going incredibly smoothly, and we owe the fact that we are ahead of schedule to the lab ladies.

1 comment:

Michael E. Smith said...

We actually owe quite a bit to our four lab experts (the "lab ladies") from San Francisco Calixtlahuaca - they are not only doing the reorganizing, but they also do most of the ceramic classification, lots of cataloging, data entry, etc. etc.