In the Lab – Fairfax, Virginia

CART Volunteer Setting Up to start Labeling

CART Volunteer Setting Up to start Labeling

Each Diagnostic Artifact needs to be labeled with unique identification information that corresponds to where the artifact was originally found as well as descriptive details that are recorded in an artifact catalog. In the picture, our CART volunteer is preparing to label more pipe stems.

Good Morning – 2016 with CART

The Colchester Archaeological Team (CART) has recently had opportunity to help protect even more archaeological resources in Fairfax County by working on projects across the county. The team misses Old Colchester Park and Preserve and plans to return to OCPP, but we are happy to dedicate ourselves to being a county archaeological research team.

This morning, the Colchester Archaeological Research Team separated to tackle different tasks. A couple of staff went out to the field with a transit in order to map and record details of current field work, a few hopped on a computer, others are busy processing artifacts.

Erica sits at a table and catalogs historic artifacts.

Erica D’Elia, CART Assistant Lab Director, cataloging historic artifacts

Interns & Work Study Programs

At the Cultural Resource Management & Protection Branch of the FCPA, both the Colchester Archaeological Research Team (CART) as well as other projects provide opportunities in the form of work study programs and internships. The programs focus in different areas including archaeological field and lab, office skills, archaeological collections and GIS.

While it is quieter than usual at the office and lab, the students are all here today. Jackie works on updating and organizing some of our old archaeological reference materials. Philip, our GIS intern, works on both GIS and in AutoCAD. Jonathan, the archaeological laboratory intern is helping to update our catalog before beginning his chosen project. Jen is helping with the archaeological collections.









Roots in the Test Unit – CART Field

In a test unit at Old Colchester Park & Preserve Jonathan digs out a root.

At Old Colchester Park & Preserve Jonathan digs out a root.

It is beautiful in Northern Virginia today. The weather is perfect. In the field at Old Colchester Park & Preserve, Jonathan Brisendine digs around a small root that invades his test unit. The area of the park that the CART field crew is currently working has mainly yielded scatters of lithics and prehistoric ceramics. Most of what has been found is flake scatters from making stone tools thousands of years ago. Even the tiny flakes provide information that will be analyzed to assess the type of activities that occurred in the distant past.

Right now, though, Jonathan concentrates on not allowing roots to disturb the archaeological test unit too much. It is common for archaeologists to figure ways to work around or with bioturbation such as roots or rodent burrows.

Jean Carefully Digging


Jean shovel skims her test unit on the Old Colchester Park & Preserve. Since the CART field crew is working in an area that has mainly prehistoric artifacts, the crew digs down in 5 cm levels. They also pay close attention and dig by changes in stratigraphy. The picture shows the soil color changes in the walls of Jean’s test unit. The change of color is one of the ways we identify a transition in stratigraphy. Soil texture is another indication of changing stratigraphy.

Quiet in the CART Lab

The Colchester Archaeological Research Team is happy to be back for another Day of Archaeology & looking forward to seeing how our colleagues days are going.

Due to weather & staff schedules, the past two days have been busy at our lab in Northern Virginia; however, today is extremely quiet. Outside, it is perfect weather. A few of our staff are on vacation and a few are in meetings. Mostly, the field crew is taking advantage of the sun & reasonable temperature at the Old Colchester Park & Preserve while the CART lab director is enjoying the rare solitude.

Putting away ceramics from the type collection in the archaeology lab in Fairfax County, VA

Putting away ceramics from the type collection in the Lab.