Archaeology Lab Rat in West Virginia: Day 455

Happy Day of Archaeology 2012 folks!

Presently, I am a curator for the research facility at Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville, West Virginia.  We are the first curation facility for archaeological artifacts built within the state (opened in 2008) and we house thousands of artifacts either excavated by state/federal organizations or personal collections donated by citizens.  The complex consists of not only the research/collections wing but is also home to the Delf Norona Museum.

My job varies on a daily basis but today I continued inventorying artifacts from a Fort Ancient Native American site formerly located in the southern part of the state.  Notice I use the word “formerly.”   Like so many archaeological sites worldwide, the site was destroyed after excavation and no longer exists.  It is now home to an industrial plant, one reason why our jobs as archaeologists are so valuable!  We are recording a past that may not be around for the future due to industrialization, roads, or any number of other destructive changes that can occur to the land.

Shell Tempered Cord Marked Sherds

Around 10:30 am, I looked up from analyzing a few prehistoric ceramic sherds and saw the observation window filled with a group of inquisitive, happy kids visiting the complex for a field trip.  I must admit, it has taken some time getting used to having people stare at you while you work throughout the day, but I now welcome it.  Who knows, maybe there is a future archaeologist in the crowd!

Possible future archaeologists!

This afternoon, we were fortunate to have Christina, one of our regular volunteers come in.  She is currently working on processing a large artifact collection that was donated to the facility many years ago.  She spent a few hours washing  lithic artifacts that will ultimately be labeled, sorted, and made available for researchers.  I don’t know what we would do without all of our reliable, hardworking volunteers!

For me, Day of Archaeology 2012 ended with inputting data into our always growing database (with some background 1980’s genre music playing from the internet radio to break the silence).  While it’s far from being glamorous, it’s priceless work.  At the end of the day, I’m just trying to do my part to preserve a little bit of West Virginia’s past for our future.

Inventorying prehistoric ceramic sherds