Tuesday was our last archaeology class, and with finals fast approaching, everyone was busy putting the finishing touches on their final projects. Before breaking into our project groups, we discussed how to store our Pine Hill finds as a class. Once we had established how to store the artifacts (carefully put away in labeled plastic containers to be kept in Alex’s office), we broke into our groups to work on our final projects.
Later in the class period, we reconvened as a class to figure out how to close up shop. We broke into different groups, including general storage (tasked with putting away equipment and artifacts), site care (tasked with backfilling the trenches and cleaning up our survey grid), and information (tasked with organizing reports and paper records). The cleanup went surprisingly fast, and by the time we were done, the Arb Office looked like it had during week one. It was quite the feat.
Alex ordered us Domino’s pizza to celebrate the end of term. Everyone rejoiced over the progress we had made on our research of Pine Hill. It’s safe to say that we’re all proud of the work we’ve done this term, and that we’ve gotten a real taste of what it’s like to be archaeologists.
Our Curation Plan: After reading a roundtable on conservation in an archaeology journal (Kersel et. al 2015), we reflected on our current storage situation. Like examples brought to bear in the roundtable, we too were faced with the issue of finding space to store these artifacts and storing them in a way that ensures their preservation for future classes to examine. One solution proposed in the roundtable and in our discussion was to return some artifacts, such as the chunks of asphalt and concrete, to the site to ease space constraints. The point was raised, however, that reburying these finds would hinder the work of future classes if they chose to continue working on Pine Hill Village. For this reason, as well as the possibility of a library exhibition featuring our artifacts in the future, we decided to keep all artifacts. It was additionally helpful that we remembered that the construction of the new science commons with an archaeology will easily accommodate our finds from this project as well as future ones.
Several steps needed to be taken before the artifacts could be stored though. Firstly, we needed to double check that all artifacts had been documented and sorted correctly by context to minimize inconveniences for future investigators. To address these needs, Nicole Connell and others spent the last part of the period proofreading the master spreadsheet of all of our collected artifacts and making sure the shared class google drive folder. Only then could each artifact be packed in its plastic bag and carefully placed, so as to ensure its continued preservation, in their respective plastic storage tub along with the original excavation survey sheet on which it was first documented.
Site Care: While we as archaeologists always carry an ethical obligation to make our projects environmentally sustainable, we’re especially obligated to care for the Pine Hill Village site as it is part of an arboretum. In the weeks since we stopped excavating, most of our work site became overgrown with dense foliage. It was, however, plainly apparent where our excavation scarred the land. To correct this, we backfilled all of our trenches from the nearby dirt piles and removed all traces of our grid survey. Trench 2 was relatively simple since it was so shallow, but trench 1 and 3 were deep enough that they required the backfilled soil to be tamped down to slow erosion. Additionally, before the backfilling began, we placed a piece of plastic at the bottom of trenches 1 and 2 so that future excavators may know precisely where our excavation ended.