Archaeological Lab Methods

This hands-on seminar will introduce students to the methods archaeologists use to analyze, catalogue, document, and store archaeological artifacts and will enable students to directly contribute to the advancement of archaeological research in New York City. We will work with a real collection previously excavated from a site in New York City and loaned from the New York City Archaeological Repository to address its needs for more analysis and cataloging. The course will begin with a brief introduction to archaeological field methods and site reports, which are critical for interpreting the collection. Students will then begin working with the collection itself and will learn how to sort, mend, and identify different types of artifacts (including ceramic vessels, glass bottles, and “small finds”) as well as methods to determine the minimum number of vessels, their materials, and dates, places, and methods of manufacture. We will also cover some methods of analysis of animal bones and botanical remains as well as ways to interpret the whole assemblage and connect it to its social and historical context. Cataloging instruction will familiarize students with the City’s new cataloging protocol and the Repository database that aims to make collections more comparable and accessible, so researchers can utilize data from multiple sites to answer larger questions. Our research will be integrated into the Repository’s database and will be made available to other researchers. Documenting activities will also include photography and drawing. Class meetings will consist of hands-on instruction and lab work, along with discussion of readings. Assignments will include a research project related to some portion of the collection (on a topic of your choice and digital projects are welcome), an in-progress oral presentation of your research, and completion of a facet of lab and cataloging work. There are no prerequisites, and newcomers to archaeology are welcome. 3 credits. May satisfy the chronological requirement, depending on final project.