Lab Internship S’05
ASC Laboratory Internship Summary
What I did
For my lab internship, I processed artifactual materials under the supervision of the ASC lab manager, Erica Gibson. The collection was from an ineligible privy 800, in block 10 of the San Francisco West Bay Approach Project. To begin, I mended ceramics, glass and other archaeological artifacts. In some cases, context numbers were not present on the artifacts and consequently, I labeled them as well. After I mended the artifacts, I identified different kinds of artifacts (ale bottles vs. wine/champagne bottles for example), researched any identifiable maker’s marks, determined the appropriate MNIs, made measurements and assigned catalog numbers. I then bagged each mended artifact and for some, such as glass window fragments and corroding ferrous materials, I weighed and discarded the artifacts. I then entered all the information I had gathered into the MS Access program including the artifact group, category, type, description, and material. After all the data had been entered into the computer, I ran searches to summarize the contents of the privy, check for any abnormalities in the contents (e.g. more decorative elements than sustenance), and determine its relative TPQ which, for this feature, turned out to be about the late 1860s or early 1870s.
What I learned
During this internship, I learned a considerable amount. I gained an understanding for the kinds of information that artifacts can yield (dates, manufacturing origins) and some of their difficulties (identifying a prescription bottle vs. an extract bottle, a maker’s mark with no records about it, unable to read a maker’s mark, gilding being washed off, looters running off artifacts that could have provided valuable dates). I discovered that all artifacts are not created equal in that artifacts yield different kinds of information, which can be more or less relevant to any given project. This internship was incredibly valuable because I learned how to consider, look at, research and analyze artifacts and stratigraphy. With this internship, I feel comfortable, for the first time, dealing with historical artifacts and cataloging, which makes my future thesis work seem all the more possible.
Update: In December 2006 Melissa Gallagher was awarded SSU’s 100th MA in Cultural Resources Management.
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