Returning from the Field
After a long field season, the snow eventually falls and it's time to return from the field. This doesn't mean that all the work would be over though - on the contrary, it only marks the beginning of the more time consuming part of the research. There are multiple steps of research that follows excavations and I don't even try to cover all of it. Instead, in the following posts, I'll give a few examples on the tasks I've been working with recently.
To start with the most obvious, one of the most exciting steps after returning from the field is to dive into all the finds gathered over the days or weeks of hard labor. As there rarely is enough time to see every find on the field, it's always interesting to see the big picture when returning to the finds afterward.
As each find is typically packed separately, there often is a mountain of paper bags to dig through. After they are organized based on the location and layer of the finds within the excavation trenches, bags are emptied one after each other and the finds are taken for cleaning and cataloging. All finds are listed with information such as material, weight and coordinates, while they are also organized neatly on a tray for storage. Later, after each tray is filled and organized, all finds are given their own reference number, which is written down both on the finds themselves and the excavation report.
Cleaning and cataloging is often a part that takes quite a while to complete - especially if the site is very rich in finds - but it's only the beginning!
During excavations, there are often many samples taken for further research. Some of them are sent abroad for results - such as the coal samples we have taken from Stone Age sites for radiocarbon dating in Uppsala - but some can also be research at the lab. Some of the most common samples are soil samples taken for potential archaeological plant remains. And that's something I'll be writing about in my next post, as it has kept me fairly occupied for the past weeks!