Curation

Paper to Plastic: 5 Organizational Steps Behind Rehousing an Archaeological Collection

By Jessica Clark, Archaeology Lab Intern, Virginia Museum of Natural History

The Cabin Run Mitigation collection comes from Warren County, Virginia, from a project dating to the  early 1980s. The artifacts range across material culture, including decorated ceramics, stone tools,  bones that show evidence of use both for food and as tools, and much more. The artifacts arrived at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in brown paper bags, contained within about 50 cardboard boxes, without any sort of inventory or catalog. It has been my task over the past few years (!) to work with these materials and get them ready for permanent storage in the museum’s collections.

1. Bags on bags

organization post photo 1

The first step in this large project was to physically rehouse the artifacts from paper and cardboard into new, archival quality plastic bags. This process involved cutting out and keeping any notations that had been made on the paper bags, and transferring the artifacts into new bags. This was a bit of an adventure, because there was something new in every box—artifacts were stored in everything from cigar boxes to film canisters to 30 year-old plastic wrap.

2. Take stock

organization post photo 2

Next, an inventory was created, listing all the materials that we had acquired so that there would be a record of the artifacts. This involved interpreting handwritten proveniences, counting all the objects, and recording their description and material type. Some bags of lithic flakes, for example, had counts numbering in the thousands, so this process took a considerable amount of time to complete. The catalog reached a final count of over 8000 entries representing 85,281 artifacts or soil/flotation samples.

3. Manage the data

organization post photo 3

With a catalog of this size, data management became a critical next step. This collection was received and rehoused in no particular order, so the data had to be reorganized into an archaeologically relevant order based on provenience. To accomplish this, each artifact was given a temporary number (between 1 and 8000); simply rechecking the catalog and labeling each bag took an additional 2 weeks to complete. The data was then reorganized in the spreadsheet, placing artifacts with others of the same provenience (Feature A with Feature A, Test Pit B with Test Pit B, etc.). Artifacts could then be physically sorted into the new arrangement using temporary numbers as identifiers (each a discrete number) rather than using the entire provenience (which may not be entirely unique).

4. Coordinate with volunteers

organization post photo 4

Sorting 8000+ bags of artifacts is no small task and could not have been accomplished without the help of some very willing and able volunteers. Through the combined efforts of museum volunteers and staff members, we were able to rearrange and store all the artifacts in less than 4 work days, moving approximately 4,000 bags of artifacts in one day alone.

5. Store material for future research

Now that all the artifacts have been sorted and put into Delta museum cabinets, their archaeological information and current physical location are now in a searchable document and much more accessible for people interested on conducting research using these materials. While data editing and some final curation processes remain to be done, this collection is now much more useful and available than it had previously been.

You might say it takes a village to successfully manage an archaeological collection of this size. From the first crinkle of brown paper to the resounding ring of the final drawer sliding into its storage cabinet, careful organization and teamwork were the hallmarks of rehousing the artifacts from the Cabin Run Mitigation project.

The daily bureaucracy of the Soprintendenza

5:47 AM CEST. My #dayofarch starts with the phone ringing the alarm tune. I remember it’s #dayofarch today. I tweet, for those few already awake.

I can’t get “The magnificent seven” out of my head so I play it from Youtube while I shower, reinventing the lyrics.

I wake up so early every day, so I can avoid rush hours and spend less time commuting. The radio keeps me company, with horrible news of a shooting in the US, dozens of migrants drowned in the Mediterranean, and a Earth-like planet found by the Kepler team. It’s a “twin” or “cousin” depending on which news channel you listen to. Most journalists are so clueless that the artist impressions of Kepler 452b have become “photographs” in their words. There is an atmosphere. There may be plants (according to the spectral footprint data received by the telescope). There may be life. What if there is no intelligent life? What is there was intelligent life on Kepler 452b but they self-destroyed their advanced civilisation and now the simpler organisms are starting over, with their simple goals? A good science-fiction work must involve some archaeology, after all.

I work at the Soprintendenza Archeologia della Liguria, as I recounted in the past few years in my #dayofarch posts.

At 7:22 AM CEST, I’m at work. Today it should be a “relaxed” day, at least compared to yesterday when I was working in parallel on two urgent dossiers. For the first two hours I’m “digging” through old records dating back 30 and even 50 years ago. I don’t do fieldwork, I don’t work in a lab. My work here is mainly at a desk, with occasional inspections at storage facilities and excavation sites. The main task I’m following is the harmonisation of all records on State-owned archaeological finds that are kept in storage spaces out of our immediate control. This includes “temporary” storage at excavation sites, museum depots, etc. With a few exceptions, 90% of items related to archaeology are a property of the State, in Italy. Our records for all the items stored (and even on display) at local museums are lacking. The strategy is quite straightforward: look what we have in our archive, what is in the museum archive, what is actually in the museum, compare, supplement missing information in the form of inventory records, assign inventory numbers, assess monetary value. Lather, rinse, repeat ‒ it’s an endless work and I’ve been told that no one before me had the exact role of doing this, which probably explains the gaps in our archive records. There’s some beauty to this work, though, like early examples of digital typesetting and beautiful old-school typography:

Two hours later, I start having a general picture of the situation of the museum I’m looking at, but yesterday’s dossiers strike back. First I talk with a colleague from the Direzione Generale Archeologia in Rome, who needs some documents about the Piazza Verdi dossier sent by e-mail. Unfortunately digital dossiers can easily get at several GB in size, so it’s more efficient to send a DVD via traditional mail. In this case, the Direzione Generale needed an excerpt from the dossier as soon as we could. Presto and done! The second urgent dossier from yesterday is the transition of all archaeological museums from the Soprintendenza to the newly formed Polo Museale who keeps together all State-run museums in each region. I took care of collecting and harmonising all documentation about the five archaeological museums of Liguria. Yesterday we sent the entire dossier out, but today I was told that some documentation was missing, so a supplement was needed.

Then, from 11:00 to 12:50, I’m out of office for a protest sit-in at the local office of the Treasury Ministry. We’re protesting because they blocked the payment of part of our stipends since 2014. The Renzi government is imposing huge austerity measures on key sectors like school, culture, health, transport … but few seem to notice. In our case, the dirty trick is they keep the money for one or two years, and then obviously we are paid, but without any interest rate (and in the meantime, some other reduction usually happens, so the actual stipend remains the same).

Back at the office, I continue working on the Piazza Verdi dossier. It’s a common preventive archaeology situation, but it got of of hands for political reasons because it involves a big architectural project. I speak again on the phone with my colleague in Rome, we cross-check the documents we already sent out in DVD with the ones they already had. Bureaucracy, that is.

At 13:50 I’m out. It’s Friday! I’ve got a two hours drive from Genoa to Torino, where I live with Elisa. It takes five minutes of full-force AC before I can enter the car that was parked under the sun. It is 36 °C outside.

When I arrive in Torino, after a short nap (after all, I woke up pretty early) my second #dayofarch starts: it involves Byzantine pottery and #phdwriting ‒ I wrote extensively about my research in a series of daily blog posts from Crete, but it’s difficult to keep the motivation up and the words going. I write my PhD thesis before dinner. I have dinner. I write my PhD thesis after dinner. At 23:32 I’m quite exhausted.

This was a rather terse account of my 4th #dayofarch, but hopefully it provided some interesting insights into what goes on at the Soprintendenza.

Small steps forward

I’m a museum archaeologist, Curator of Archaeology at Weston Park Museum in Sheffield. Today I have been working on the final touches to a list of objects we want to include in our new gallery. The new displays won’t be created until next year but the list for this case is already overdue (the final, final deadline for supplying it to my colleagues was 16 June!). I had a good draft by then and have been steadily refining it over the last month. Today, I just had to measure three final objects – a glass bowl, an iron horseshoe and a perforated tusk. I already knew where the glass bowl was stored but I used our computer catalogue to find the location of the other two items and then set off into the store to try to find them. There is always a sense of excitement when looking out objects in the store, mixed with worry that you won’t come across them – all the more so because I have only been working at Museums Sheffield since April and am still learning my way around. Luckily, this time I managed to find and measure all 3 items and, in the process, discovered that the iron horseshoe was recorded as being in the right box but on the wrong shelf. I added the information to the Excel list and updated the computer catalogue. Small steps towards that perfect catalogue which is the holy grail for museum curators!

Tusk with perforation through it

Perforated tusk that needed measuring. Copyright Museums Sheffield

Also today, some of our volunteers have been cataloguing flints collected by Thomas Bateman, a 19th century antiquarian who investigated and collected from many sites in the Peak District. They have been measuring, photographing and describing the objects. As there were only two volunteers in today they documented straight onto the computer catalogue but normally they use a paper form to record the information as we only have 1 spare laptop. My colleague and I then create the computer catalogue entries later.

I have also been emailing information to my contact at the Friends of Wincobank Hill. We are working with this community group on part of the new displays. Wincobank Hill is an Iron Age hillfort in the east of Sheffield. The group visited the store on Wednesday to look at the objects that past excavations have found and also photographs, notes and drawings created during these investigations (the documentary archive).

Other things I’ve been doing this week include arranging with a colleague in our learning team to discuss the prehistory session she is developing, speaking to a member of the public about how to access the collections not on display, supplying information to an academic about the exterior decoration of one of our objects and running an activity with a group of 8-10 year olds about bronze working where chocolate stood in for bronze in an experiment to create their own bronze working moulds.

A Hoard Day’s Work

Come and spend a day with the Staffordshire Hoard Conservators….

Our first task the morning before the museum opened to the public, was to access the cases in the Hoard Gallery and remove some objects we are preparing for catalogue photography.

Removing pommels from the display case
Removing pommels from the display case
Boxing up the objects for safe transit to the conservation studio
Boxing up the objects for safe transit to the conservation studio

Whenever we move fragments to different locations, i.e. from the gallery to the conservation studio, we update our audit lists. The Hoard is displayed across 4 sites – Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery – Stoke-on-Trent, Tamworth Castle and Lichfield Cathedral, which means keeping track of the each of the 4000 fragments is vitally important.

 

WE LOVE LISTS! – A list of fragments which we need to take off display for research purposes
WE LOVE LISTS! – A list of fragments which we need to take off display for research purposes

Next, we made the first of our many daily trips to the Hoard safe to collect some more objects to be worked on.

 

Collecting objects from the safe
Collecting objects from the safe

We are currently in the process of grouping associated fragments, so we can join and rehouse them together. This ensures the pieces are kept together for future study and has the added benefit of reducing storage space.

 

A group of gold and garnet cloisonné hilt collars in their initial storage boxes
A group of gold and garnet cloisonné hilt collars in their initial storage boxes
The group now re-boxed together (with space left for the final pieces of the group)
The group now re-boxed together (with space left for the final pieces of the group)

We finished our Hoard day by hanging out some washing from yesterday’s very muddy Festival of Archaeology….

 

Lizzie Miller & Kayleigh Fuller

#HOARDLIFE

For more information and blogs please visit www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk

 

 

 

The Veterans Curation Program

Staff Sergeant Mark Crawford, Georgia National Guard, sorting lithic debitage.

Staff Sergeant Mark Crawford, Georgia National Guard, sorting lithic debitage.

It’s a sunny Friday morning in Augusta, Georgia, and at the Veterans Curation Program laboratory a team of military veterans is hard at work preserving the nation’s prehistoric heritage.  They’re engaged in archaeological curation; stabilizing, documenting, and recording archaeological materials like potsherds and projectile points to save them for future generations.

Curation is the back end of archaeology – vital, but largely unseen.  Excavation is always in the spotlight.  Dirt-and-trowel archaeology is our data source, our brand, and our metaphor.  Digs provide iconic images and stories of struggle, adventure, and discovery.  Archaeology will always be linked to the thrill of discovering a site or an artifact that was lost for hundreds or thousands of years.  But what happens to the artifacts after they’re bagged, tagged, analyzed, and written up?  What happens decades later, when they’re moldering in the back of an unpaid storage unit, lost and forgotten except for a footnote in a report nobody can find a copy of?  That’s where the Veterans Curation Program comes in.

The Veterans Curation Program (VCP) specializes in rehabilitating neglected and deteriorating archaeological collections.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers selects some of the worst examples of national collections – the ones that are orphaned, lost, or infested by vermin, the boxes that are molding and water-damaged, full of bags that disintegrated decades ago – and transports them to VCP laboratories for a complete restoration.  At the VCP they begin a long process of stabilization and documentation.  Any excavation records associated with the collection are cleaned, mended, organized, and digitized so that future researchers have as much of the archival record available as possible.  The artifacts themselves are sorted, counted, weighed, and inventoried, and rehoused in archival-quality cardboard and plastic.  Technicians here create a complete digital inventory of the collection.  By the end of the rehabilitation project, we know exactly what’s in an archaeological collection, we have digital copies of all the important records, and the collection is stabilized to preserve it for future generations.

Air Force veteran George Bauser selects a box of artifacts to rehabilitate.

Air Force veteran George Bauser selects a box of artifacts to rehabilitate.

This is difficult work, and often delicate work.  And it’s being done by veterans.  The Veterans Curation Program hires and trains unemployed veterans of the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It’s a tough job market out there, especially for the enlisted soldiers who left the service with no degree and a set of job skills that are difficult to translate to the demands of the corporate workplace.  The VCP provides new skills like data entry, records management, public outreach, and support with job searches and resume writing.  Since 2009 the three VCP laboratories (one each in Augusta, Georgia; Alexandria, Virginia; and St. Louis, MO) have employed 173 veterans, the vast majority of whom have subsequently transitioned into full-time civilian careers.

Today, the Augusta VCP is working on three Southeastern archaeological collections administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District.  Jon Beaver, a former Army Sergeant, is photographing the White Springs 1979-1986 investigation with a digital photograph station designed by a forensic photographer.  Jon has a knack for photographing pottery tiny sherds and stone tools.  I ask him what part he likes best, and he says, “I like getting creative with the lighting.  I try and bring out the surface texture so things don’t look flat.”  Eventually these photos will end up on tDar, the Digital Archaeological Record, where the public will be able to view the results of his work.

Marine veteran Trey Williams holding a mended sherd.

Trey Williams, USMC, holding a mended sherd he processed today.

Tim Handley, a retired Infantry Staff Sergeant, is leading another group of veterans working on the Divide Cut II investigation.  The 100 boxes of artifacts from Divide Cut II are mostly lithic debitage and stone tools.  The technicians are processing each box bag by bag, emptying the contents, sorting the projectile points from the chipped stone and the groundstone from the ecofacts, building a complete inventory of the collection.  It’s slow work today—every bag is a rainbow kaleidoscope of chert flakes and broken stone tools.  Two months ago, none of the veterans in this laboratory knew an abrader from an anvil stone, but after a crash course in lithic technology (and a visit from a local flint-knapper) they’re happily sorting everything into their correct piles before counting, weighing, and tagging them.

At one point Tim turns to me with his hand outstretched.

“Broken tool?”

I take a look at the red chert in his hand.  Most of the edges are clean breaks, but one is sharpened, ever so faintly.

“Good catch.”

He nods and turns back to the small mountain of flint on his desk.  Half a dozen other veterans are doing the same thing, and the rhythmic clinking of stone on stone is audible beneath the hum of conversation.

So what do I do every day?  I’m the archaeologist on staff at the lab, and my main job is to train the veterans on the nuances of archaeological processing—ceramics, lithics, faunal, rehousing, interpreting proveniences.  I found my way to the VCP in a circuitous fashion, following the trade winds of globalization from the Midwest to Asia and then to Augusta, Georgia.  When I finished my MA in 2012, jobs in archaeology were in short supply (older archaeologists tell me it’s usually that way).  Eventually I took a job teaching history at a high school in Seoul, one of Asia’s neon entrepots where technology, capitalism, and traditional culture collide in heady fashion.  More than 30,000 U.S. soldiers remain stationed in South Korea, a result of the armistice that ended the war in 1953.  I married one, and within months the Army had relocated us to Fort Gordon on the outskirts of Augusta.

Working at the VCP has been both a privilege and an education.  An education in curation, in military affairs, and in the real benefits archaeology can have for the public.  I’ve seen first-hand lives and families transformed by the opportunity to gain new job skills in a supportive environment tailored to the special needs of veterans.  I’ve also had the opportunity to help restore a small portion of our national heritage that might otherwise have been lost to attrition and neglect.  To any aspiring archaeologists out there, I say: as exciting as the field is, don’t forget the other side of archaeology, the back end, that protects and preserves everything the discipline has worked so hard to uncover.  And I’d also say: go for it.

A rim sherd photographed at the VCP lab.

VCP laboratories create digital records of diagnostic artifacts, like this rim sherd photographed today.


Surprise find @ Manchester Museum

Working as Curator of Archaeology at Manchester Museum is never short of variety. I am currently working on a temporary exhibition about figurines from Koma Land in Ghana in West Africa that opens October 25 2013. This will be the first time that such figurines, which date roughly from the same time as our Middle Ages, have been shown outside Ghana with the approval of the Ghanaian authorities. It has been quite a learning curve and it’s been a great privilege to work with Prof Tim Insoll of the University of Manchester and Dr Benjamin Kankpeyeng of the University of Ghana to find out about what these beautiful but enigmatic figurines mean. Today I am editing some text for the exhibition. Shaving off words in order to reduce the number for the designer is challenging as a few words can subtly change the meaning about figurines that are already loaded with significance and complexity.

Working at the Museum means that I come across some great objects during my day to day activity. Yesterday I was just about to take a seat at the staff presentation when Lindsey Loughtman, one of the Assistant Curators  called me over to say she’d found an object in the Botany collection that appeared to be archaeology. I recognised it immediately as a neolithic ground and polished stone axehead dating from about 3500-2000 BC. Not only that, it had the original ‘O’ number museum reference written on it together with the name of the place where it was found: Winton near Eccles. It was a stone axehead I knew of from references in J.Wilfrid Jackson’s papers about the archaeology of Manchester. Jackson was the very widely respected curator who worked at Manchester Museum during the first half of the 20th century. The Eccles axehead is listed in Jackson’s ‘The Prehistoric Archaeology of Lancashire and Cheshire’, Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society 50 (1936), pp.65-106; and in his ‘Contributions to the Archaeology of the Manchester Region’, The North Western Naturalist 11 (1936), pp.110-119.

The axehead turned up during the building of the new Westwood housing estate at Winton in 1922. At the time it was described as one of the finest and most perfect specimens in the Manchester area. J.J.Phelps in a short article ‘Stone Implement found at Winton, Eccles’, Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society 40 (19XX), pp.42-44 described it as ‘a remarkably fine specimen’ and ‘one of the finest and most perfect specimens found in the district around Manchester’.

Wilton Axe c. Bryan Sitch

Wilton Axe c. Bryan Sitch

 

The axehead was found in June 1922 by Mr. James Caine, who saw it lying on top of spoil thrown out of a drainage trench cut in the soil about the centre of a newly made roadway named Westwood Crescent near Parrin Lane. The axehead has been sampled petrologically. You can see the thin slot cut in the side of the axe in order to provide a thin section to be used for identification. The stone was identified by J.W.Jackson of Manchester Museum as group VI greenstone, a kind of rock known as volcanic tuff. It is fine grained because it is made up of the compacted dust and grains from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. It shares characteristics with glass and flint which means it can be shaped by flaking because it will break in a predictable way. The source material outcrops in Langdale in the Lake District and the Pike O’Stickle quarry is famous for its breath-taking location. The prehistoric axe-makers made rough-outs and then ground and polished the rough-out until it was smooth and of a regular, symmetrical shape. I wanted to display it with other Manchester neolithic discoveries in our new Ancient Worlds displays which opened last autumn but unfortunately I couldn’t locate it at that time. And to think it was in the Botany department all the time!

So all-in-all a wonderful surprise and great to be reunited with an old friend.

Written by Bryan Sitch, Deputy Head of Collections and Curator of Archaeology at Manchester Museum.

Follow @BryanSitch

U.S. Military Veterans Contribute to Archaeology

Veterans and archaeologists work side-by-side on a daily basis at the Veterans Curation Program (VCP).  Although this is Day of Archaeology 2012, the focus of the VCP is always on the veterans.  Helping these men and women who served our country in the military is our ultimate goal.  In the process, these individuals preserve archaeological collections and associated documentation generated by U.S. Corps of Engineers projects.

Many veterans leave their military service wounded and disabled, facing the daunting task of transitioning from the military to civilian life.   They need of a comfortable environment to learn new skills and build confidence as they identify and pursue a career path.  That’s where archaeology comes into the picture.  The staff members of the VCP hire and train veterans who served in all branches of the U.S. military to rehouse and catalog archaeological collections.  A majority of the participants in the program served during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Like so many veterans, some of the participants have experienced Traumatic Brain Injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.   Each day is a new learning experience as the archaeologists teach the veterans about processing the collections, and the veterans teach the archaeologists about their experiences and military culture.   This give-and-take process helps us tailor the program to the needs of these deserving men and women.

Founded in 2009, the Veterans Curation Program began to as a way to provide valuable job skills to veterans while preserving culturally significant archaeological collections owned or administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Veteran participants are hired as archaeological laboratory technicians for up to six months and trained extensively on archaeological and collections management principles by archaeologists, archivists, and historians.  Educational lecturers are invited to the laboratories to help the veterans put their contribution into a broader context so that they more fully appreciate our national patrimony and understand the disciplines of archaeology and collections management.

There are three VCP laboratory locations: Alexandria, Virginia, Augusta, Georgia, and St. Louis, Missouri.  The staff archaeologists are responsible for having the labs open five days a week.   Schedules are set by veterans to take into account various necessary medical visits and other commitments, such as meetings with counselors and therapists, other employment opportunities, and school schedules for individuals pursuing degrees.  Typically each day, veterans work on stations that include document rehabilitation, artifact processing, data entry, report writing, digital photography of artifacts, and digitization of documents.  This is an abbreviated list of some of the activities that take place in our labs.  Many of the tasks are ones that occur in any ordinary archaeology lab, but the staff also assists veterans with professional growth and development.  Time is allotted for resume writing, job searches, interview practice, and researching possible educational opportunities.  Veterans are also encouraged to attend job fairs and network in the community.

Our measures of success are factored on how many veterans have been helped and the amount of collections that have been processed.  The best news is that the Veterans Curation Program has trained and employed 102 veterans as of this post.   Of the veterans who have completed the program, 82% are successfully employed and/or continuing their education in various degree programs.  In terms of the collections, over 51 linear feet of archives and 669 boxes of artifacts have been rehabilitated.  A digital collection is being created with the intent to eventually make data available online to researchers, educators, and the public.  To learn more about the VCP, please visit our website at www.VeteransCurationProgram.org.


Zen and the Art of Curation

 

Greetings from the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois-Champaign! Recently, I have been spending my days in the lab helping to update and transcribe site inventories into a digital database.  The excavations that produced these artifacts were conducted in the 1960s and 1970s, and the only inventories that exist are on hard copy.  Additionally, some of the artifacts are still in their original paper collection bags.  I am currently relabeling and rebagging artifacts, mostly lithics, and entering catalogue and provenience information into a digital database.  (Provenience refers to the exact location on the site at which the artifact was found; as opposed to the “Antiques Roadshow” term provenance, which refers to the entire history of the object from its discovery to the present).  It is important to curate these items using materials and technology that will help to preserve both the artifacts and their associated provenience information.

 

While this task might not entail bullwhip-cracking excitement and Spielberg-worthy finds, I think it is every bit as valuable as the discovery of a new site, the excavation of a unique artifact, or the ground-breaking research taking place daily.  This is due in part to my recent completion of a Master’s thesis in which I analyzed artifacts from the Chesapeake Bay region, despite living about 800 miles away in the Midwest.  I was able to conduct a majority of my research and some data collection using the Comparative Archaeological Study of Colonial Chesapeake Culture database (http://www.chesapeakearchaeology.org/index.cfm), created by the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory and other Chesapeake archaeologists and collaborators.  This information was available to me thanks to the careful curation and meticulous inventorying of thousands of artifacts by Tidewater archaeologists in Maryland and Virginia.

 

As I work on curating the artifacts and information from excavations conducted years ago in Illinois, my recent research experience is always in the back of my mind.  I hope that our careful curation of the artifacts from decades-old excavations will assist researchers investigating these sites to more easily access this information.  The field of archaeology continues to advance both technologically and theoretically, and it is important to preserve artifacts and information as completely as possible to assist future researchers in the reinvestigation and reanalysis of previously-excavated sites.  Who knows what exciting reinterpretations might someday be based on these nondescript bags of broken rocks?

These chert samples were collected from a site investigated in the 1960s and 1970s.