A couple posts ago Bill talked about the water screening process and the valuable information that can be gained from looking at material people throw away (http://ohio-archaeology.blogspot.com/2007/04/never-ending-field-work.htmlarchaeology.blogspot.com/2007/04/never-ending-field-work.html). Part of this process involves sorting through what remained after the water screening. This is not a glamorous job by any standard and it involves hours of delicate and detailed work using tweezers and magnifying glasses. Fair warning, this is not a job for those who dislike monotonous work or eye strain.🙂
The first picture shows me sorting through a water screened soil sample. The second picture shows the smaller portion that is being reviewed. I like to handle tedious jobs by finishing smaller portions of the sample, rather than working directly from the larger pile of material. That way, as I complete each small section, I get immediate gratification and it keeps me interested in the task at hand. As they say, winning the small battles wins the war. The size of each item in the second photo is between a half and quarter inch, which was the average size of most of the items from this soil sample. However some other artifacts were as large as 2 inches or smaller than a grain of rice. Each item was carefully reviewed to see what it was and was then put in the appropriate 4mil plastic bag for storage.
At some time in the future the recovered artifacts will be more intensively reviewed to see what is present. Researchers can look at items such as small seeds, nut shells, and even fish bone and tell what plant or fish species the material came from. This will give us a better idea of what they ate and even what time of year it was utilized. Just from looking at the macroscopic items we have seen corn kernels, nut shells, broken arrow points and flint debitage from the manufacturing process, fish bone and scales, beaver and deer bone and shell tempered pottery.
Pictured are some typical samples of material (charcoal, pottery, flint and fish scales).