FIELD MANUAL: Introduction
to Field Work Techniques
By Greg Warden
and Michael Thomas
Edited by Jess Galloway
"We are not here to find things,
we are here to find out about things."
The Trench Supervisor will keep a trench
notebook that serves as a combination journal/laboratory record.
All essential information must be included in the trench notebook
that, by law, must remain in Italy (in the excavation archives)
and eventually be turned over to the Archaeological Soprintendenza
on completion of the excavation. Field School students contribute
to this process by helping to fill out the "Context Record
Form," which is intended to supplement the information in
the trench notebook.
There are several terms that are common
to the field of archaeology and our site in particular. It would
be helpful to review a few of these at this point, so that you
will better understand the discussions that follow.
Trench: a vertical cut in the earth used
to reveal a vertical dimension of archaeological data and to
explore a horizontal dimension along one axis. Under ideal conditions,
a trench will be aligned with the survey grid of the site. Alas,
at Poggio Colla we have less than ideal conditions: our site
is heavily wooded and we are, by law, not allowed to damage the
chestnut trees that cover the top of the hill. Our trenches may
not always adhere to the grid system
Locus: (pl. loci) a sub-unit or division
of a trench, sometimes defined by features found in a trench.
Stratum (pl. strata): the definable layers
of an archaeological matrix or features revealed by excavation.
The stratum is always the dominant factor. Stratification is
the presence of multiple strata, caused by the layering of the
soil, as a result of both natural and human activities. Strata
are formed by changes in character of the material being deposited
or in the conditions of deposition. Stratigraphy is the study
of the sequential and chronological relationship of strata. A
stratum normally represents a discrete cultural context or event.
Level: an arbitrary horizontal cut (usually
about ten centimeters) taken through a stratum.
Feature: anything created or caused by
human action; a non-portable artifact, not normally recoverable
from its matrix without destroying its integrity.
Artifact: an object whose characteristics
result from human activity.
Ecofact: natural rather than human-made
evidence that may have cultural relevance. This category includes
inorganic remains (rocks, soils, etc.) and organic (derived from
living remains, for instance floral or faunal remains).
Archaeology is by its nature a destructive
process. Even though archaeologists may be the only professionals
working in the ancient world who consistently produce new primary
source material, they also inevitably destroy the context of
this material by excavating it. No matter how careful the archaeologist,
some information will be lost. It is the duty of every archaeologist
to minimize this loss. Excavation notebooks must be written in
ink and observations must be detailed and timely. The trench
supervisor should explain the reasons why choices are made as
well as the theories prevalent at the time of excavation. Those
theories and assumptions will change; some may turn out to be
wrong, but the point of an excavation notebook is not to show
how "good" or correct the excavator is, but to record
accurately and carefully the archaeological context and the methodology
of the excavation. In fact, an excavation notebook in which every
assumption turns out to be correct or interpretations do not
change as new evidence appears, is suspicious.
Our first objective is to recreate the
spatial and cultural context of the artifacts we excavate. To
begin excavation each season, several trenches area laid out
both on Poggio Colla and in the Podere Funghi, our two areas
of excavation. The location for these trenches is determined
before the season begins based on the needs of the excavation
and the results of previous years work. It is not uncommon to
have to make adjustments to trench location due to unforeseen
circumstances, for example when a clandestini pit was found at
the beginning of the 2001 season. While the directors and trench
supervisors lay out the trenches the rest of the field crew clears
the site and sets up equipment. Once trench layout is complete
the excavation can begin.
Excavation is simply the systematic removal
of earth from the area of study, the trench. Earth is removed
in levels; typically 10 cm passes across the trench or locus
under study. As excavation progresses the levels will eventually
pass through various deposition layers or strata. With the discovery
of a new stratum the level is terminated and levels (elevations)
are taken to record the exact vertical location of the top of
the new stratum. It is the study of these strata that we call
stratigraphy. It is also in these strata that the history of
the site is revealed to us.
As objects are come down upon (discovered)
they are removed from their context, but not before they are
located, either through the use of triangulation or the Total
Station. Typically they are also photographed in situ. Finally,
the surrounding earth is checked for color using a Munsell color
chart (a standardized color comparison system). It is with this
information stratigraphy, survey, photography and color - that
comparisons throughout the trench and across the site can be
The actual act of excavation (digging)
can be carried out in a wide variety of ways, from the use of
a miners pick to that of a dental pick. The excavator must always
be sensitive to what lies below the surface when using any tool.
It is the objects not yet seen that we wish to preserve. At Poggio
Colla the primary tools for excavation are the hand pick and
the trowel (typically a 4 ½" or 5" bricklayer's
pointing trowel). Additionally, dental picks and small wooden
potter's tools are used for removal of delicate artifacts.
The trench supervisors will instruct
you in the use of these tools so that each excavator can be as
efficient as possible while still minimizing any damage to artifacts
as they are discovered. It is important to realize excavating
is a skill one must master, so be patient.
As careful as one might be, objects will
still be unearthed and removed with the dirt. To assure that
no objects are thrown out, all the dirt that is removed from
the trench is sifted to catch our mistakes. To further help locate
an object that is found in the sifter the dirt is kept separated
by excavator. This allows for at least a general location to
be assigned to those items found in the sifter. As an excavator
it is good to know you have this safeguard, but you should not
rely on it. The objective of excavation is to discover what lies
in the area being excavated and to document it as it is found.
The trench is by definition an independent
area of excavation. Each area of the site, Poggio Colla and Podere
Funghi, is excavated in discrete units we call trenches. The
ideal trench for our excavation is 5m x 5m or one grid square.
Trenches are located to achieve certain didactic goals for the
season within the overall context of the project. Each trench
is assigned a number (an Arabic numeral, starting with "1"
in the first season and running consecutively throughout all
future seasons of the project). The trench number is preceded
by the area designation. We have two area designations, PC for
Poggio Colla and PF for Podere Funghi; hence a trench may be
numbered PC 6 or PF 5.
The trench is the first step in establishing
the spatial context for artifacts found on the site. It provides
the excavator or future researcher several vital pieces of information
about what was found within its boundaries. First, the trench
number gives the site of excavation, either Poggio Colla or Podere
Funghi. Secondly, the year or years in which the object was found
can be deduced by correlating the trench number with its year(s)
of excavation. Finally, it can provide site coordinates, since
every trench is located within the overall site grid.
To establish this site grid location the trench is surveyed into
the overall site map. Typically, the coordinates of the trench's
southwest corner in relation to the permanent site grid designate
a trench's location. To provide the third dimension to the spatial
context, elevations must be established for the trench.
A single elevation point is established
for each trench, called the Trench Elevation Datum (TED). All
measurements of depth are taken from this datum or from subsidiary
elevation data established in relation to the TED. The TED must
be tied to the site grid and permanent site datum, both horizontally
and vertically, by use of the Total Station.
All depth measurements within the trench
should be recorded as meters below datum (an example would be
0.43 mbd). Typically, the TED is located in the southwest corner
of the trench at ca. 0.1 meter above the surface of that corner.
If the slope of the ground requires establishing a datum higher
than 0.1 meter above ground level, then increments of .05 m.
should be used. The location of the TED must be clearly recorded
in the trench notebook. At Poggio Colla it is not unusual for
the location of the datum to be modified by one of our many trees
or stumps or by the topography around the trench.
The trench is often divided into smaller
areas called loci. Each locus provides a more manageable work
area and provides points of separation for changes in vertical
elevation, i.e. one locus can be excavated to a greater depth
than another locus. There are often cultural contexts in a trench
that would necessitate this occurrence. One instance of this
might be a trench that spans both the inside and outside of a
building. The trench supervisor may choose to stop excavation
of the interior locus at the building floor level while allowing
the exterior locus to continue deeper down the building foundation
wall. The loci of a trench may be divided within the existing
grid system or, as in the example above, by the context contained
within the trench boundaries.
Trenches are excavated according to their natural stratigraphy.
Strata are numbered with Roman numerals. The surface layer is
Stratum I. Arbitrary levels are often employed in the excavation
of a stratum; these levels should not be more than 10 cm. in
thickness. At no time should a level intentionally include soil
from more than one stratum. The arbitrary levels are numbered
with Arabic numerals. The trench supervisor will summarize the
findings and nature of each level after completion of that level.
This summary should be part of the trench notebook. The trench
supervisor will review some of these notebook entries with the
students as part of the process of learning how to analyze and
synthesize archaeological data.
We will spend a lot of time discussing
stratigraphy. The principles of stratigraphy are obvious and
the theory seems simple, that strata are temporally sequential
and that an individual stratum represents a singular phase or
set of phases in the cultural evolution of a site. The stratigraphy
of our site is extraordinarily complex, however, and the reading
and interpretation of any stratigraphic sequence is as much an
art as a science.
As we excavate we are being exposed to
the stratigraphy of the trench three dimensionally. Once excavation
ends for the field season we are able to examine the walls (the
profile) of the trench and see a picture of the stratigraphy
excavated through the field season.
Examining the artifacts contained in
a stratum provides a means to date it. By dating each stratum
and examining layers of destruction within the strata, the archaeologist
is able to recreate the chronology of the site.
We gain a great deal of our understanding
of the site's context through stratigraphy. This is what makes
stratigraphy so important to recognize and understand as we excavate.
Features, like stratigraphy, provide
an important part of the story of the site. Unlike artifacts,
a feature will be left in situ or when remove will be destroyed.
This makes it important to accurately document, through written
description, drawings and photographs, a feature.
Features within a trench are recorded
as soon as they are encountered. Within each trench, an Arabic
numeral consecutively designates each feature. For example, the
first feature recorded in trench 6 is designated Feature 6/1.
If a feature extends into more than one trench, it will retain
its original designation. Feature 6/1 may also appear units 7
and 8. It is still feature 6/1.
When a feature is encountered, it should
be described carefully, measured, and elevations should be taken.
When appropriate, a plan and a section should also be drawn.
All this information should be included in the trench notebook.
The kind of information that should be recorded is summarized
in the "Context Record Form," included in this field
manual. Occasionally these forms will also be used for pedagogical
purposes, but they are not meant to be a substitute for the proper
recording of information in the trench notebook. In general,
the previous level clearly should be closed out. In some cases,
it may be necessary to expand the unit to expose and identify
this feature. The decision to expand an excavation area is made
by the field director in consultation with the trench supervisor.
To recreate the spatial and cultural
context of the artifacts we excavate, we use two systems: manual
triangulation and a laser surveying station, called a Total Station,
which pinpoints the location of every "find." Both
of these systems are described in the "Survey Methods"
section of this manual. The decision of what constitutes a find
is made by individual trench supervisors who keep a daily list
of finds in their trench notebooks. A find can be anything from
an architectural element to a diagnostic artifact, a cultural
or natural feature, or a soil sample. Objects that are notable
or diagnostic are removed to the laboratory as finds. The survey
system provides records of the three-dimensional position of
finds and provides trench supervisors with a daily update of
the spatial position of these finds. The database created also
enables the eventual analysis of the distribution of these items
across the entire site. In order for the system to be effective,
trench supervisors, excavators, and survey teams must work together
Our architect will oversee the setup
of the survey map system. A limited number of survey stations
will be established at the site. They will be positioned so as
to have a clear sight line to each of the excavation units. Each
morning the surveying team will place the Total Station at the
primary surveying point (PSP), complete the initial station set-up,
and verify that the set-up is correct. When the set-up is finished,
the surveying team will notify each trench supervisor that they
are prepared to collect data. Surveyors use their initials, the
current date (in mm-dd-yy format), and an alpha character for
the daily session indicator as the name of the data file. For
example, if Jess Galloway is the survey supervisor on our first
day of excavation, June 17, the first data file will be named
JG6-21-99. At the end of each day, surveyors will transfer the
data from the data collector to the excavation house computer.
Following review of the data and any corrections or adjustments
necessary, the surveyor will then be able to print for each trench
supervisor a map of the day's work.
This may sound rather complicated at
first, but it will become second nature to us as the excavation
progresses. The evening printout will allow each excavation team
to keep abreast of what is happening in their trench. We expect
each of the groups to function as a team, to work together and
to remain aware of the context and importance of what is happening
in the trench. If you are enrolled for undergraduate credit in
the Field School, you will be asked at the end of the season
to write up a group of finds, to illustrate, catalogue, and interpret
them as if you were presenting those finds and their context
for publication. That means that you will have to explain the
significance of those finds in the greater cultural context of
the site and region. You will only be able to do so successfully
if you have been aware of the entire excavation process.
No matter how carefully we excavate and record finds the final
result is only going to be as good as our analytical processes.
The first step in this process is our database, the choices that
we make in the recognition and classification of material from
the site. The survey system has pre-established classes and sub-classes;
this system has been modified for the unique needs and challenges
of our site and region. The classes and sub-classes are as follows:
Other sub-classes may be defined in the field.
These classes and sub-classes allow us
the ability to uniquely identify every piece of information collected
throughout the season and across all the many seasons we will
work at Poggio Colla. The information collected in our database
(and onto the site map) and that recorded in the field notebooks,
along with the artifacts discovered, represent the history of
the previous occupants of Poggio Colla, as we know it. Eventually
some of the excavated objects become finds and are included in
the catalogue (which will be discussed later) for the excavation.
It is through the study of these objects
and the data associated with them that we are able to establish
the chronology of the site as well as the sites relationship
to the rest of Etruria. It is not only the objects themselves
that are important to our understanding but also the context
in which they exist. The site survey map records and locates
the totality of the objects and features.
The purpose of survey is to locate points
three dimensionally and then use these locations to perform various
comparative analyses. Some of the products of the analysis are
artifact distribution maps, topographic maps, three-dimensional
models, and building plans. Survey is also used to link various
areas of the excavation to one another; an example is the Arx
(the top of the Poggio Colla hill) with the Podere Funghi, two
areas separated by one half of a kilometer. Two methods of survey
are used in the field: manual and land.
Manual survey is a method for locating
points within a small area and is carried out with simple tools,
i.e. a string, a string level and tape measures. This simple
survey technique is used in the trench to locate diagnostic artifacts,
architectural elements, soil samples, and cultural or natural
features. This method is made up of two components: triangulation
and levels (see definitions for these two techniques below in
the definitions section of this document). Levels are also used
to describe the finished plane of each pass through a locus in
Triangulation and levels are standard
archaeological practices that all field students should learn.
These two methods provide a means to locate points in the trench
in terms of a known datum (see definitions below). With this
information a researcher can compare the relative location of
all the finds in any given trench. The disadvantage of this method
is that finds across the site cannot have their relative positions
compared without first plotting out all the individual trench
information on an overall site map. To more easily accomplish
the task of comparative analysis between trenches we use standard
land survey practices.
Modern land survey is carried out with one primary instrument,
the "Total Station." We use a Topcon 211 total station.
The total station is a Theodolite (a modern transit) with an
integral EDM (electronic distance meter) and a small computer.
The Theodolite measures both vertical and horizontal angles and
the EDM measures the distance from the Theodolite to the point
being surveyed. Simply put, a Theodolite is nothing more than
a high powered telescope that can rotate about both its vertical
and horizontal axes and the EDM is typically a low powered laser
that is fired at a reflective prism located at the point being
measured. The computer records the angles and distance measured
and displays them on a small LCD screen that is part of the Total
We connect a specialized handheld computer,
called a Data Collector, to the total station to facilitate the
recording of information. The data collector receives the angles
and distance measured from the total station and from this calculates
the NEZ coordinates (see definitions below) of the point being
measured. This information provides a spatial context to every
point surveyed. The data collector also allows the survey team
to input other pertinent data (trench number, point type, find
material, etc.) associated with any given point. This information
provides a cultural context to every point surveyed. Once the
information is collected and stored in the data collector it
can be transferred to one of the dig computers where it can be
processed further. Although this may not be clear to you at this
time, once you see survey carried out in the field, the above
descriptions will begin to make more sense.
One of the primary objectives of using
the total station is to accomplish the same task that triangulation
and levels accomplish, i.e. to spatially locate diagnostic artifacts,
architectural elements, etc. The use of the total station allows
all surveyed points to be instantly referenced to one another
across the entire site instead of only within an individual trench.
This system of survey provides a means to quickly map the entire
area of excavation: producing plans and topographic maps, showing
artifact distribution and to tie field survey and archaeotopographic
survey to the main excavation areas.
In order to accurately locate the survey
data and to assure its reproducibility we use two special points,
called benchmarks and temporary benchmarks (see definitions below).
Each season we begin surveying at one of several benchmarks on
the site, either one of the three on Poggio Colla or one of the
two in the Podere Funghi. From these points several temporary
benchmarks are established, often called primary survey points
(PSP). Each PSP is established to give a clear line of sight
to the trenches. When any area of the excavation is surveyed,
the total station is set up on a PSP. This allows survey to occur
from a known point.
The Italians who previously excavated
the site from 1968 to 1972 originally established the three benchmarks
on Poggio Colla. These benchmarks define the five-meter grid
that is still in use on the site today.
Another advantage of survey using the
total station is the ability to produce and print maps of each
trench or even the entire site as excavation progresses throughout
the season. These maps provide quick information to field supervisors
and relieve them of the need to triangulate architectural features.
We still use triangulation for finds since there are times when
the survey crew is off in another area of the excavation. Standard
triangulation and level data can be entered manually into the
computer model along with the electronic data collected.
We use several computer programs to record
and manipulate the data collected in the field. A program called
Cogocad is used to download data from the data collector, to
review its accuracy, to make corrections of errors noted in the
field and to transfer the data into Autocad. Autocad R14 is used
to create all the maps and models from the survey data. Each
day the data is downloaded and a daily map of the data made.
The daily maps are assembled into a composite plan of the season
and the season composite plans assembled into the final state
plan. Eventually the survey data is also incorporated into the
In order for this system to function
it requires cooperation between the survey team and each of the
trench supervisors. The trench supervisors must inform the survey
team in a timely manner of any survey task to be completed in
their trenches. This will allow the survey team to schedule their
work in a way that provides maximum benefit to the entire excavation.
In a like manner the survey team needs to report coordinates
for points shot in any trench to the trench supervisor so they
may be recorded in the trench book and on finds tags in a timely
manner. Additionally, the survey team should provide the trench
supervisors with regular printouts of the maps of their trenches.
The accurate recording of all information,
including survey data, will allow for an accurate recreation
and assessment of a site that is undergoing the destructive process
we call excavation.
Coordinate System: The site uses an NEZ
coordinate system. N is the North/South coordinate, or Northing.
E is the East/West coordinate, or Easting. Z is the elevation
coordinate and is measured from mean sea level.
Benchmark: A permanent marker point used
to establish a set location. Examples of benchmarks include the
3 concrete monuments on Poggio Colla. The primary benchmark for
the excavation is BM1 and has NEZ coordinates of 1000 m, 1000
m, 390 m. The northing and easting are arbitrary, chosen to keep
all N and E coordinates as positive numbers. The elevation (Z)
coordinate is measured from mean sea level. The elevation is
always shot to the top of the benchmark.
Temporary Benchmark: A temporary point
serves as a benchmark but is only used for a season of excavation.
The elevation is always shot to the top of the stake.
Elevation Point: A point surveyed to
measure only elevation and not N or E coordinates. The elevation
is usually shot to grade and is not marked by any permanent or
Datum: A special type of elevation point
set for each trench, often referred to as the Trench Elevation
Datum (TED). The datum point is used in the taking of levels
in the trench and allows all levels to be tied into the overall
site coordinate system. The datum is a stake set outside of each
trench and the elevation is shot to the top of the stake.
Station Point: A station point marks
a contextual event such as a Grid Point or Traverse Point. The
elevation is always shot to the top of the stake.
Trench Corner: The corner of each trench
is set with a stake. The N and E coordinates of the stake are
shot in and the elevation of grade at the stake is established.
Triangulation: Triangulation is a method
for locating a point in space by measuring the distance from
two known points. The point being measured forms the third point
of a triangle, hence the name.
Levels: Taking levels is the method used
to locate the relative elevation of a triangulated point (or
any other point for that matter). The method for taking levels
is to pull a string tight and level from the top of the TED and
measure the vertical distance from the string to the point. The
string is set level by means of a device known as a string level,
a small bubble level that is be attached to the string (the string
level should always be placed halfway between the datum and the
Accurate and complete records must be
kept for all trenches. The excavators are the first persons in
thousands of years to see the soils, features, and artifacts
in a trench. The excavators are also the last persons to see
these materials together. Reliable record keeping and observation
of every step of the process are the only means of saving this
data for later analysis and interpretation. The four types of
information resulting from the initial process of excavation
are the trench notebook, standardized forms, photographs, and
scale drawings. The trench notebook has been discussed above.
It must include all data (levels, drawing, color designations,
find numbers, etc.) and narrative description based on observation.
It is important to know what the excavators saw and thought at
the time of excavation, even if these observations turn out to
be off base later on. This is why we require that the notebook
be written in ink, so that observations cannot be changed.
In the field, a scale plan of each unit
should be drawn whenever it becomes important to document the
horizontal relationship of elements within the unit. The plan
should include a scale, date, elevations, and a north arrow.
Feature numbers should also be noted. Profiles or section drawings
of the unit walls document the vertical relationships of strata
and features. These profiles are crucial for the stratigraphic
interpretation of each unit. Profile drawings should be done
of all four (or more) walls of each unit. The TED should be used,
when possible, for the level line of the profile. All strata
should be marked on the drawing; features should also be clearly
labeled. Soil descriptions should be included in the key.
Black and white photographs should be
taken at each change in level, for each new feature, and when
any significant finds are encountered. Color film is used for
general documentation or as appropriate. Documentary photography
is done in 35mm format. We also use a medium-format camera (645)
in special instances, such as for general unit photographs where
better resolution is helpful. A large format camera (4x5) with
Polaroid capability is used for special documentation. We also
use 35mm and digital photography to create Quick-Time Virtual
Reality reconstructions of the excavations as we proceed. We
use Video to record the general pace of excavation and to provide
more three-dimensional documentation of certain aspects of excavation.
Much of this information is made available on our web site, which
is updated on a weekly basis by our information technologist.
We also have a digital camera and a Canon Optura digital still/video
recorder, which will be used for quick documentation and to create
images that can be placed on the Internet.
The following forms are used to record
information about specimens or samples:
Specimen Tag: Any artifact or material
brought down from the site must have one of these tags. The artifact
can always be referenced back to its original find location with
the information on this tag. The tag contains the following information:
tag number (made up of site, trench number, locus, stratum, level),
feature number (if applicable), triangulation information, date,
find number (the date plus a sequential Arabic numeral), site
coordinates (if shot in with the Total Station), contents (a
brief description), the trench supervisor's initials, and the
trench notebook page number where the artifact is referenced.
The upper right corner of the tag is reserved for a catalogue
number, if one is assigned. The backside of the tag must remain
blank for use by the conservation lab.
The Context Record Form includes information
on general trench data, material collections (including soil
and carbon), soil matrix/excavation methods, visual records,
features and a place for a plan drawing. This form is not intended
as a substitute for proper record keeping in the trench notebook.
Although Trench Supervisors will include in their notebooks all
relevant information, this form serves as an additional record
and as an alternate method of examining field data.
The Tile Count Form is used to record
roofing tile that is deemed large enough to send to storage,
although not good enough to be labeled as a find. These tiles
are bagged, given a bag number, counted, weighed and the location
in the trench noted. Much of the roofing tile from the site does
not warrant bagging or being classified a find, this tile is
simply measured and recorded in the trench notebook. It is then
placed on the tile dump that is on site.
The Sherd Count Form is used to record
the many potsherds that do not warrant being classified as finds.
These sherds still must be recorded and sent to storage. The
sherds are bagged, given a bag number, classified by type (body,
rim, neck, handle, base or other), the number in any given level
noted and the location in the trench also noted. Often the sherds
are separated by fabric type and this is also recorded on the
form. This method of sorting proves useful for any researcher
who is studying a ceramic fabric on the site.
The Bag List is simply a compilation
of all the bags from a given trench from any one season. From
this list a quick overview of material found, beyond finds, can
Finally, there is the Photo Log. This
log records every picture taken for every camera and every roll
of film on site throughout the field season. We take literally
thousands of photographs each year and without this log we would
not be able to match each photograph with its location, date
All these forms are critical for proper
documentation on the site. And since ours is a destructive process,
documentation is truly essential in assuring a successful excavation.
The processing and analysis of all material
recovered from survey and excavation takes place in the field
laboratory. Artifacts are usually processed in four consecutive
stages, however the fragility or significance of the object will
sometimes require one of the following stages to take precedence
over the others: inventory, conservation, cataloguing and storage.
Every morning the cataloguer begins by
taking an inventory of all the material brought down from the
site the previous day. Typically, this material has either been
designated as a find by the trench supervisor or grouped by its
fabric (black glaze, bucchero, fine ware, coarse ware, impasto,
etc.) into sherd bags. The sherd bags will be inventoried in
the most basic of ways, where their contents are counted and
recorded. Sherd Count Forms, Tile Count Forms, and Bag List,
are the responsibility of the trench supervisors, however the
cataloguer does document the acquisition of the material by the
lab. Finds are inventoried in a more detailed manner. They are
first recorded into the Find Index (which requires the following
information: Trench Number, Date, Find Number, Description and
Notebook Page). Next, they are visually inspected by the cataloguer
to determine which artifacts should be catalogued and which should
remain non-catalogued objects; often the conservator and site
director aid in this process.
Once an artifact has been designated
for catalogue status it is assigned a catalogue number. The catalogue
number, which consists of the last two digits of the excavation
year followed by a consecutive Arabic number, is then recorded
on the Find Tag and in the Find Index (e.g. the first find of
the 2002 season will be 02-001). It is then sent to conservation
Conservation involves the cleaning, repair,
consolidation, and preservation of material remains. The conservation
lab follows two basic principles: to handle an object as carefully
and as minimally as possible and to practice the principle of
reversibility. The latter is especially important, for it insures
that any treatment applied to an object is reversible at a later
date with no resulting damage or change to the object.
After receiving proper conservation treatments,
an artifact selected for cataloguing is returned to the cataloguer.
It is at this point that the object is entered into the excavation
database where it will be described in detail. The cataloguer
records the artifact's material, detailed measurements, and a
precise description. The Poggio Colla catalogue provides more
than descriptive information on an object; it also records the
provenance of the artifact, references to the trench notebook,
negative and drawing numbers, and information concerning storage.
In addition, digital photographs supplement the entry.
Once the catalogue entry is complete,
the object is documented with both digital and black and white
photography and technical illustrations, and then prepared for
storage. Storage preparation includes the marking of the catalogue
number on the object in permanent ink, placing the artifact and
find tag into an archival bag, and then assigning the object
to an appropriate box. Boxes are grouped first by excavation
year and then by material fabric. Storage completes the basic
sequence of artifact processing.
As a participant in this project and
a field school student, you have a certain obligation to work
according to the ethical standards set by the Society of Professional
Archaeology. The respect we show to the site and the community
we work in is an important part of our involvement in this project.
Each field school participant is expected to review and abide
by the code of ethics, the guidelines and standards included
in the Appendix of this manual.
and Course Requirements
to Field Work Techniques
Field School Graduate