On a typical day, archaeologists at the Laboratory of Archaeology and Georgia Archaeological Site File at the University of Georgia (UGA) in the United States are busy doing research, training students, preserving and curating artifacts, and sharing information about the important pieces of Georgia history in our care. We curate 11,000 boxes of artifacts and field records, which means that a normal day at the lab involves many people working on a variety of different tasks “to keep the party going” (to quote Laboratory of Archaeology Director, Dr. Mark Williams). Here’s a peek at just a few:
Dr. Victor Thompson is a Professor in UGA’s Department of Anthropology, and the Director of UGA’s Center for Archaeological Sciences. He and Rose Parham, a UGA undergraduate student employee, are spending the day analyzing artifacts from recent fieldwork on Mound Key, an island in Estero Bay, Florida.
Dr. Jennifer Birch is an Assistant Professor in UGA’s Department of Anthropology. She leads UGA’s Singer-Moye Archaeological Settlement History (SMASH) field school at Singer-Moye, a Mississippian mound site in south Georgia. Right now, she and her students are washing and analyzing the artifacts they excavated during this research season. Next, the artifacts will be analyzed, photographed, put into archival bags and boxes, and placed into the lab’s curation facilities. Check out the SMASH blog to learn more about what Dr. Birch and her students have been up to all summer.
The Laboratory of Archaeology is the centerpoint for graduate research in archaeology, and the lab is currently assisting in numerous graduate research projects. Brandon Ritchison is a Ph.D. Candidate in UGA’s Department of Anthropology, and today he is using the lab’s computers and software to analyze data from Sapelo Island, Georgia, for his dissertation research. He is using ArcMap, a digital mapping and spatial statistics software, to figure out the distributions of different kinds of artifacts at his site. Many of these artifacts were found during UGA’s Colonial and Native Worlds field school, which ended last month.
Rachel Horton recently graduated from UGA and is volunteering at the lab this summer to get more archaeological experience before applying to graduate school. Today, she is finishing up the analysis on a shovel test survey that was recently excavated during a public archaeology day on Ossabaw Island, Georgia. Undergraduate training is one of the lab’s top priorities, and UGA undergraduate students who work, volunteer, or conduct internships at the lab participate in experiential learning by analyzing and archiving archaeological collections, using 3D scanners and 3D printers, as well as conducting and presenting their own archaeological research.
Georgia Archaeological Site File
Nicole Oster is a UGA undergraduate who works at the Georgia Archaeological Site File. Today, she is processing requests for archaeological site data from a local cultural resource management (CRM) firm in Georgia. The Site File curates all artifacts, paperwork, and site reports that are produced through CRM archaeology (archaeology that must happen before certain kinds of construction projects) in the state of Georgia. Nicole and the Site File team (which includes UGA graduate and undergraduate student employees) supervised by Assistant Manager, Mary Porter, recently completed a massive project where every one of the over 58,000 recorded archaeological sites in the state of Georgia was mapped and recorded into a searchable database of digital records.
Collections and Curation Management
Megan Anne Conger is a Ph.D. student in UGA’s Department of Anthropology. Today she is working on rehabilitating a large archaeological collection from Hickory Log, a site that was occupied periodically for over a thousand years (Middle Woodland through Historic periods). Employees at the lab spend a lot of time rehabilitating older archaeological collections to make sure that the artifacts and records are in proper archival condition.
Video of 3D scanned shell gorget recovered from UGA’s Singer-Moye Archaeological Settlement History (SMASH) field school at Singer-Moye.
Amanda D. Roberts Thompson is the Assistant Director of the Laboratory of Archaeology and Georgia Archaeological Site File and today, she’s using a Next Engine 3D Laser Scanner to digitally reproduce artifacts for the Georgia Museum of Natural History’s Science Box. After scanning the artifact, a copy of it will be printed using one of the lab’s three 3D printers, and the printed replica will be painted to resemble an even more exact copy of the original. 3D scanning and printing are digital curation practices, which give access to the lab’s collections from anywhere in the world. With 3D printed replicas, you can see, hold, and experience artifacts in exhibitions, classrooms, and outreach events without having to worry about the original object being damaged from transport or handling.
Isabelle Lulewicz is a Ph.D. student in UGA’s Department of Anthropology. Today, she is packing up some UGA Junior Archaeologist workbooks and badges to give to children in local classrooms. The workbook is a recent collaboration between UGA’s Center for Applied Isotope Studies (CAIS), graduate students, and the lab. The workbook was designed to introduce kids to the basic principles of archaeology and to teach them a little bit about the history of the Southeast. After completing the workbook, students sign a pledge to protect Georgia’s past, earning themselves an official Junior Archaeologist badge! CAIS and archaeologists here at the lab use these workbooks at public events throughout the state to get kids (and adults!) excited about archaeology.
If you want to keep up with day-to-day happenings around the lab, follow us on Instagram @uga.archaeolab, or “like” us on Facebook. If you want more information about how YOU can get involved with archaeology in Georgia, email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit our website.