Aerial photo of the surface collection site with collection sections seperated and labeled.

Step 1: Survey

Under the supervision of Professor of Anthropology, Jennifer Mathews, renewed research on the site began in the spring of 2022 with initial photographs, surveying, and fieldnotes. GPS coordinates and a walking survey were done to select the optimal area for surface collections to take place. A creek bed that runs through the site was deemed to contain the largest assemblage of artifacts due to erosion, making it the focal point for surface collections.

Step 2: Sectioning

Measurements in meters were taken of the creek bed, allowing it to be split into four 10 meter by 10 meter sections. These sections were labeled 1 through 4, with the first section beginning at the mouth of the creek bed adjacent to a parking lot, and the last section being just past the creek bed's widest point. The sections were marked with pink temporary flags to keep them separated and to prevent any mixing of artifacts from other sections

Step 3: Initial Surface Collection

After sectioning was complete an initial surface collection of artifacts, separated by material type, was collected within each section. This allowed us to understand how many types of artifacts were potentially on site, enabling us to plan accordingly for future surface collections.

Step 4: Full Surface Collection

Surface collections were then done by a team (varying from 2-8 people) on a weekly basis across the span of two months, with intermittent surface collections being done in the following semesters, usually after heavy rains due to erosion in the creek bed. 

Dakotah Brown (class of 2024) cleaning recently collected artifacts.

Step 5: Washed Artifacts

Artifacts collected were transferred to the archaeology lab and washed in a solution of Dawn Dish Soap and tap water, and lightly scrubbed with a non-abrasive sponge in order to remove mud and other debris.

The artifacts were then laid on plastic trays lined with paper towels in order for them to air dry. Occasionally, an oscillating fan would be used in order to speed up the drying process.

Step 6: Sorting

After the artifacts were dry, they were then sorted into artifact types consisting of glass, pottery, building material, organic material, and special finds. Special finds were those unusual objects  such as baby doll parts, a gold pocket watch, and even some full bottles (Figure #).

Step 7: Sorting Round 2

All of these artifact types were then separated into diagnostic and nondiagnostic within their respective types, excluding however, special finds which remained together due to their uniqueness as will be discussed below.

Diagnostic pieces were artifacts with any defining pattern or mark on them, or defining shape that would reveal the original form, allowing for potential identification.

Non-diagnostic, on the other hand, were pieces with no identifiable material on them and held no significant shape. 

Step 8: Sorting Round 3

Once this initial sorting was done, artifacts were then sorted again but by more precise artifact types. These types included the color of the glass, ceramic or earthenware in the case of pottery, separation of metal and brick, the separation of bone and shell, and finally the separation of special finds into artifact types of glass, pottery, building material, and organic material.

Step 9: Initial Labeling

Once all artifacts were washed, dried, and sorted they were then labeled. The labeling process consisted of  using a numbering sequence of section #.bag #.artifact #. and then using small pieces of paper cut to scale as labels. Numbers would be hand written on the pieces of paper before they would be taped to the artifact and then documented through a multitude of spreadsheets. 

Chris Junginger (class of 2025) does B72 labeling on cleaned artifacts.

Step 10: Final Labeling

A B-72 compound and archival gel pens are used as a permanent, but removable label. This is done by applying a thin base coat of the B-72 (white or clear depending on the coloring of the artifact). Once dry, an artifact number will be written in white or black gel ink, before being covered with a thin coat of clear B-72 as a top layer. These objects will then be left to dry for about 24-48 hours before being placed back in their respective bags and stored away in archival-grade cardboard boxes.

The Special Finds:

As mentioned above, special finds were more complicated to sort than other artifacts due to their overall uniqueness, and so were set aside momentarily until proper attention and analysis could be done. Special finds consisted of unique artifacts that stood out among the other objects in the surface collection. These objects consisted of uniquely patterned items or easily identifiable pieces, such as baby doll fragments that were found on site. On the rare occasion that full or partially full bottles would be found, there was often embossing still intact, allowing for easy identification.

Photography and Illustration:

After artifacts were labeled and sorted, photographs were taken using cell phone cameras. In order to take the photograph, the object would be placed on a light or dark colored piece of felt depending on the artifacts coloring. A scale would be placed next to, or under the object as well as a label. The label would contain the name of the site, the section, the artifact number, what the artifact is, if known, the date the photo was taken and then the name of the photographer. After the photo was taken, the raw image number, artifact number, photographer, and the date the image was taken along with a description of it would be uploaded to a spreadsheet. The photos themselves would be placed into a google folder with the raw image number being the title of the picture.