Madison Williams continues our student series of posts by interviewing Chase Freeman about working with artifacts.
An insight on the cleaning of the artifacts
When most people think of archaeology, they tend to picture people with shovels and screens excavating a site and collecting all of the artifacts they find. But what happens next? Chase Freeman, a Liberal Arts Major and a Biology and Anthropology Minor, provides us with some insight into the next step of the process. After the artifacts are collected at the site, they are then taken to the Anthropology Lab, University Hall 255 on campus. There they are lightly scrubbed with a toothbrush and water, then laid down on screens to dry.
Chase is Ms. Seifert’s Undergraduate Research Assistant and is in charge of cleaning the artifacts that are found on each site. I recently conducted an interview with Chase, and asked him a few questions concerning the next step. (All artifacts discussed refer to the ones found at the Benedictine Monastery and Freedmen’s School.)
When did you first become interested in archaeology?
“I became particularly interested in archaeology when I took the Archaeology of the Southeast class with Ms. Seifert in the spring of 2016.”
How do you organize the artifacts?
“Right now we are organizing them by test unit, level, and they are placed separately on the screen by what they are. We have to come back to catalog everything and organize it more specifically.”
On average, how often do you find an artifact that has the “wow” factor?
“Um, fairly often actually. There’s always something that is significant to the site that either confirms or refutes our beliefs about the site.”
What is the most interesting thing you have found thus far?
“I get this question a lot. I’m going to have to stick to the kerosene lamp. I found it intact in the ground, but it shattered when I tried to remove it. We are reconstructing it now to see what info we can gain. Also, the Benedictine Monk robe clip because that’s the first sign of a Benedictine presence.” [editor’s note: the lamp was found broken in situ, meaning all of the pieces were found already broken, but roughly in place]
Does it ever get stressful handling all of the artifacts?
“Only recently, it’s gotten crazy keeping up with everyone wanting to help. The amount of volunteers is very impressive and also very helpful. I cannot stress that enough. Whether you’re on the site digging or in the lab cleaning, all of your help means so much.”
Thank you Chase for giving us an insight on the cleaning of the artifacts. I hope to hear more of the findings after the artifacts are analyzed more intensely.