Unit Book J3

J03 Topic

Incompletely processed items

James L. Walker – August 2007

There are rare occasions during the excavation in the field when the archaeologists and assistants on scene are overwhelmed with objects to record and prepare to send to the house for further processing. Some objects are logged, but not bagged and tagged. It is likely that these objects end up being carried to the laboratory, but not properly processed.

After a properly logged and bagged object leaves the field, each unit places it on its incoming shelf, were it is fetched by an archaeologist for detailed description and analysis. It is tracked in the house using a routing log in which are recorded the processes needed before it is stored or sent to the museum.

Over a period of two years, 19 objects out of the 560 logged in the field, were not entered in the routing log and most likely were never processed to storage or other disposition. They tended to be objects that were fragments or specimens of objects that we commonly find. A more disciplined approach by field personnel and better unit level supervision of the process of handling objects in the laboratory would go a long way toward eliminating this problem.

A related problem is that properly identified objects of high value or interest are sometimes delivered directly to the subject mattter expert with only the field identification and measurement data recorded. Furthermore, during times when the staff is limited, laboratory descriptions of objects are occasionally postponed to a subsequent season. Unfortunately, the hostilities halted this process. An inventory by the local staff recently initiated may lead to a more complete description and documentation.

Back to top: Incompletely processed items