OSU Student Adventures in Collections: Part 4

Dr. Deanna Grimstead, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology of The Ohio State University, and her students are currently working with an Ohio Historical Society Collection from the Proctorville Village Site (Ohio Archaeological Inventory number 33LE12, collection A4197). The collection stems from a 1989 salvage excavation at the location of a large Fort Ancient Village located in Lawrence County. The goals of this project are 1) to use the collection for an introductory undergraduate and graduate level archaeological laboratory methods course, 2) to conduct a thorough zooarchaeological analysis of the archaeofaunal materials from the site, and 3) to further many more collaborative projects between the Ohio Historical Society and The Ohio State University. As part of the course students are giving the opportunity to blog about what they are learning and discovering.  The following is the fourth submission and we hope you enjoy the student’s journeys as much as we will! Ciao Ohio Historical Society Archaeology Readers, a lot has happened since we last talked! I have finished analyzing the lithics in my box of artifacts from the site in Proctorville (Figure 1)! I honestly thought it was never going to end; there were so many bags full of shatter and flakes from the Fort Ancient people making projectile points. Seeing all the effort put into making these projectile/arrow points made me wonder why someone would put all this energy into turning a big chunk of rock into a tiny point it but was one of their only forms of protection, from large predators and possibly other tribes, which would have made it worth the time. However, projectile points were mainly used for hunting. Once someone learned the trade they would have been able to produce these projectile points much faster. There are videos on the internet of people flint knapping and some can do it in as little as 7-8 minutes. WARNING: I am going to try and describe how we analyzed our boxes and the artifacts inside. I will try my best to not confuse anyone! Over the course of these 12+ weeks we have looked through the faunal remains as well as lithics. For faunal remains, we were asked to do bag tags for each bag. On our bag tags, we wrote the bag number, what type of material it was, the taxon and by whom it was IDed. For material, you would write bone (faunal), whether it was worked (meaning a human had taken the bone and turned it into something else, for example a tooth that had a hole worked into it for a necklace) and  whether the bone was unidentifiable or identifiable. For taxon, we put whether the faunal remains were from a small, medium or large mammal. We also used bag tags to separate the bags of faunal remains into smaller categories. For example, I would put small and large mammal bones into separate bags inside one bag. Say bag 633 had 5 pieces of small mammal and 9 pieces of large mammal bone; I would give each size its own bag tag and bag but still put it inside the bag 633.  The faunal analysis we did in class was just a coarse sorting and will be followed up by a zooarchaeologist. For lithics, we were given a sheet of paper to document what was in our bags (Figure 2). First, I classified my lithic material by shatter and flakes. The shatter was counted and put into its own bag, to be weighed at a later date. Then you determined how many flakes had cortex present and how many had no cortex, cortex being the outer shell of rock (which is what we see when we find rocks on the ground). Next, you separate the flakes by the quality of the material. Almost all of my flakes were poor quality; high quality is when a flake resembles glass and has little to no inclusions. Last, we had to determine how many pieces had been heat altered and how many had not been heat altered. This was definitely my favorite step because if the flakes had been heat altered they were a very pretty red and sometimes even pink. I hope that I gave you a little insight into the nitty-gritty details of what analyzing a box of artifacts is like! -Lauryn Platt

Posted April 3, 2014
Topics: Archaeology

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