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Time to pass the mic to the artifacts, the objects excavated by archeologists! Do you want to know what it’s like to be an artifact unearthed during an excavation at Fort Stanwix? Watch the short video, From Excavation to Exhibit, to find out!
After you’ve watched, keep reading to learn more about what’s happening in the video.
Archeology uses the scientific method to learn about people in the past. This starts with the excavation, where an archeologist unearths an object in a controlled manner. The archeologist is working in a unit, or the designated area of excavation. Each bit of dirt is carefully removed and artifacts are either recovered from the ground, like the one in the video, or from a screen that the dirt is passed through to ensure all materials are found. Objects are placed in a labelled bag with other finds from that same area so that the archeologist can track where they were found.
Once back in the lab, the objects are cleaned with water for materials like ceramic and glass, or with a dry brush for bone and wood. Once cleaned, the object is cataloged. This means it is measured, weighed, and the specific details of what it looks like, how it was made, and where it was found are recorded. These catalog notes will be added to an electronic database and are what archeologists will work off of to uncover patterns about what was recovered from the dig. Once the object is photographed, it is labelled with a unique catalog number, making it easy to trace, and placed in storage.
For many artifacts, storage is the end of the journey for the physical object. However, the information recorded from cataloging will continue to be used, sometimes for years, while the site is analyzed and interpreted. Fortunately for our object in the video, a select few go on to be placed on exhibit in museums and enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
Last updated: October 4, 2022