Hello there out in cyber space! Thea here, blogging about what happened to the artifacts and soil samples that we took away from Heinlenville/Nihonmachi.
All of the artifacts we screened and bagged in the field must be washed and catalogued. Washing the potsherds and bottle glass are fun and easy, but washing the faunal bone is tricky, because you have to be very careful not to break it, and there are many small crevices to clean.
Some of the soil samples we took, we put through a flotation machine, for paleoethnobotanical analysis! Paleoethnobotany is the archaeological sub-field that studies plant remains from archaeological sites. Major research themes are recovery and identification of plant remains, the use of wild plants, and the co-evolution of human-plant interactions.
The flotation machine [Model A Flot-Tech] is the device by which these samples are procured. It is a dual chambered water tank equipped with a pump that circulates that water between the chambers. When you start the machine, one side of the tank slowly overflows into a fine mesh screen. You put the soil sample (about two gallons of soaked soil from a specific place in Heinlenville) into the side that is overflowing, and the light weight plant materials float to the top and spill over into the screen! It is a fun and wet job, so it was a blessing to get nice weather last week.
This week is also nice, and that is good because we are wet screening. Wet screening is exactly what it sounds like: you screen a sample of dirt using water to wash away the loose dirt, revealing the artifacts.
We are finding a lot more stuff, and stay tuned for more interesting blog as the artifact processing goes on!!!