Artifact Analysis

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					Artifact Analysis &
Artifact Analysis
 Space, Time and Form
 Taxonomy, Systematics and Nomenclature
 Archaeological Classification
 Variability
Artifact Analysis
   First described in 1909
     Bruil,
           French Archaeologist
     Associated archaeology with geologic
        classification of stone, ceramic and metal artifact
        deposited by people who used them and their
         location in a site reflects cultural, economic,and
         social behavior.
Artifact Analysis
   Sampling
     Allexcavated artifacts should be kept as a
      unit until everything is completely catalogued.
     Sampling large collections of artifacts due to
        Random
        Stratified Random

        Stratified
   Characteristics of artifacts
     Size
     Shape
     Color
     Material
   A group of artifacts that belong together.
     All artifacts from a site
     All artifacts from a particular provenience.
     A particular type of artifact.

   Assemblage Variability
     Differences   in artifacts through time or space.
   Types
     Arbitrarily
               defined units of classification.
     Each type is separated by some difference.
   Lumpers and Splitters
     Some   analysts group artifacts in fewer, more
      broad types-lumpers.
     Splitters group artifacts into more, narrowly
      definted types.
   Morphological
     Types based on form.
     Inherently descriptive.

   Temporal
     Change   in artifacts through time.
   Functional
     Based   on presumed function.
  Classification   provides a base for further
  Fundamental analytical step
  Kinds of Classification
     Style
     Form

     Technological

  Quantitative   vs. Qualitative
Classification of Pottery
Clay Pipes
Uses of Classifications
 Culture History
 Reconstruct Past Lifeways
 Ideological/Religions
   Materials
     Physical   substances
   Tools
     Material   object put to use
   Techniques
     Ways   of making or using objects
Technological Change
   Invention
     Discovery   of new process
   Innovation
     Change    in use
   Diffusion
     Spread    of technology
Studying Technology
   Morphological
     Quantitative   and Qualitative
   Data Analysis
     Statistics

   Functional Analysis
     Use   of artifacts
   Experimentation
     Replication/Reconstruction   of artifacts
Case Study: Examples from the Lost Towns
of Anne Arundel Project, Maryland
   Excavations at Grassy Island have recovered a huge
    quantity of 18th century artifacts.
   How did we process, sort and record the garbage of a
    past century?
   What important questions did we ask to give meaning to
    the objects and their relationships to the site?
   What stories were told by the objects about the people
    who used them and the world they lived in?
    Field Lab Procedures
   The operation of a field lab was an important part of the five seasons spent on Grassy
    Island. Labs were hardly glamorous - unless you fancy garages, fish plants or school
    rooms - but they provided a base for processing excavated artifacts. All artifacts entering
    the lab arrived with a provenience card assigned on the site by the archaeologist and
    were recorded on a daily log sheet. The provenience card had to be retained with the
    artifacts at all time and it was important that only one provenience be handled at a time
    to avoid an artifact with an archaeological "identity crisis".
   Different artifact categories found on Grassy Island needed different cleaning methods.
    Glass and most ceramic material was washed in lukewarm water using a soft brush to
    remove the dirt. Metal, bone and other delicate material was not placed in water but was
    brushed. Artifacts requiring special conservation treatment were flagged.
   Once the washed ceramic and glass artifacts dried, a thin coat of clear nail polish was
    applied on the surface on the artifact. Provenience numbers were carefully written on the
    dried polish with ink and a fine point dip pen. Numbers were never written on the edge of
    the artifact because the number had to remain visible even after mending. Metal and
    other artifacts which were not physically numbered were bagged with a provenience I.D.
    tag or label.
    We used eight main artifact categories for the Grassy Island excavations: 1) Ceramics;
    2) Glass; 3) Metal 4) Organics (e.g., leather and bone); 5) Lithic (e.g., gunflints and
    projectile points); 6) Composite 7) Other (e.g., plastic) 8) Unidentified. Most of these
    categories have many subcategories but in a field situation most sorting is done by the
    major categories. After the Grassy Island artifacts were processed in the field lab they
    were sent to Halifax for finer sorting, mending and cataloguing.
Mending and Cataloguing

   Most archaeological artifacts are found in fragments. The mending
    of the Grassy Island artifacts took many months. Think of hundreds
    of jigsaw puzzles, only with lots of missing pieces.
   First mending was done within archaeological lots (for example,
    54C1) and then sherds were crossmended between lots, sub-
    operations and even operations, establishing important connections
    between archaeological contexts. Once mending was completed,
    the mended Grassy Island fragments were catalogued.
   Lab researchers consulted illustrated books, contacted museums
    and compared their material to other collections to determine ware
    type, date range, function, vessel form, and country of origin (or
    What did they learn?
   Date Range
       Stone projectile points were discovered, revealing the presence of
        Aboriginal fishermen on Grassy Island over 1500 years ago.
       A small collection of artifacts was also excavated that suggests the
        seasonal use of the island by French fishermen in the 17th century.
        However, the vast majority of artifacts recovered from Grassy Island
        date to the site's occupation by New Englanders between 1720 and
        1744. A few later 18th century ceramic sherds were found in the
        tavern cellar depression and probably relate to sporadic domestic
        use of the island after the destruction of the town.
   Trade
       The ceramics in particular illustrated Canso's wide-reaching trade
        links, with wares originating in France, the Mediterranean, the West
        Indies, Great Britain, Turkey, China, and New England. The
        presence of the French ceramic and glass wares tends to confirm
        other evidence of a largely illicit trade link with Louisbourg.
        Redwares made in the New England region are common in the
        collection, as would be expected given Grassy Island's New
        England connections. There is no evidence that pottery was
        manufactured locally .
Social Status

   Artifacts excavated from the How and Heron properties
    suggest a comfortable, upper middle class lifestyle,
    especially the high percentage of expensive Chinese
    porcelain teawares, an 18th century status symbol.
   Wig curlers, stock (neckcloth) buckles, ornate sleeve-
    links and shoe buckles recovered from the site tell us
    that gentlemen living on Grassy Island continued to
    dress the part, despite the relative isolation of life on a
    windswept island.
   In the 18th century, homes were often places of
    business and it is easy to imagine a well-dressed
    Edward How settling accounts over French wine served
    in beautiful English leaded glasses.
   Many of the artifacts recovered from Grassy Island relate to the
    consumption and preparation of food. A curious lack of ceramic
    flatware vessels suggest the residents used pewter for plates. Pewter
    plates were not likely to have been broken and discarded to remain
    as evidence in the ground.
   Miscellaneous activities were suggested by the presence of various
    tools, including a small table vise probably used to repair jewelery or
    other fine metals. Lead musket balls, gun parts and fish hooks were
    also found, as were interesting domestic artifacts that evoke 18th
    century life like candle- snuffers and the insert for a box clothing iron.
   Large quantities of clay smoking pipes were also found on Grassy
    Island, with telling clusters in courtyard work areas and at the site of a
    tavern. Indeed, the large quantities of pipes and drinking vessels
    helped to identify the tavern. The tavern excavations also yielded far
    more coarse ware vessels than fine ware vessels. A completely
    opposite proportion occurs in the ceramic assemblages from the How
    and Heron properties, indicative of the activities of a middle class
    domestic household versus that of a tavern.

   The presence of clusters of
    window glass helped us to locate
    the windows at the How
    property. The location of Edward
    How's front door was marked by
    its hardware, including the door
   A variety of building hardware
    was recovered from Grassy
    Island, dominated by thousands
    of wrought iron nails.
Museum Reconstruction: Edward
How family
Experimental Archaeology
   Manufacturing and using tools in the
    present to compare to the past.
     Flintknapping
     Bone  tools
     Metallurgy
     Ceramics
 Preserving objects after excavation.
 Often needing specialists and special
  facilities, such as cold or dry storage,
  humidity control, etc.
   When water evaporates from wood that has been
    saturated for centuries and is partly decomposed, the
    wood shrinks and distorts. This picture shows an
    untreated fragment of Iron Age wood, excavated in about
    1914, allowed to dry naturally.
   Wood is stabilized by replacing the water with impregnants
    that also add strength to the decayed wood. The aim is to
    preserve both the shape and the surface detail. It has,
    however, proved difficult to find preservative materials that
    do not themselves destroy the wood in the long run.
   The preferred method, at present, for conserving very
    decomposed wood, such as Iron Age wood from bogs, is
    impregnation with PEG in water solution, followed by
    freeze drying.
Iron Age scabbard. Impregnated with sugar and a very little glycerin
and freeze dried in 1994
 Textiles should be removed together with
  the surrounding soil, so that their
  extraction can be completed in the
  workshop, under the best conditions and
  without using consolidants.
 Water soluble consolidants together with
  freeze drying. The textile is sometimes
  given a very weak lanolin treatment if it
  seems very brittle.
Iron Age Dress
   Iron rusts when it is exposed to water and
    oxygen. The process is quicker in the presence
    of salts, sodium chloride for example. Buried iron
    objects are changed partly or entirely to
    corrosion products, which obscure the object's
    original appearance. Significant traces of the
    original surface may lie within this corrosion.
   The object and the soil are impregnated with an
    acrylic lacquer. The surface is then exposed.
    The object in its bed of soil can now be
    displayed in a box .
Metal Objects

  Iron pin in soil   Stirrup
Archaeological Site
   The Archaeological Conservancy
   State Grants

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