By David Ramage Archaeological Technician URS Corporation
Burlington, New Jersey, USA (Posted by the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum webmaster)
A normal day for me working in the URS laboratory usually involves working with soil samples. Before you are even able to get the tank ready you need to take a sample from the soil that will be retained and used for something else such as pollen sampling. We need to take a 500mL sample from the original soil sample brought into the lab to be set aside as our retained soil. Afterwards, what we do is we set a float tank up outside the office and fill that with water. Then we take measured samples from the soil samples sent in from the field and run the through a screen that is submerged in the water. This separates the soil from the artifacts allowing us to gather small artifacts that would usually be missed by other excavation techniques. After we have the artifacts from the floatation tank, we give them a day to dry and then put them in bags to be picked through in the future. My normal day revolves around this process of separating the artifacts from the soil in the float tank. The process doesn’t always take all day so if I have time afterwards I usually prepare samples for the next day. Overall it is a part of the job that requires you to pay attention to what you are doing and using your best judgment with time management.