Tag Archives: Central American Archaeology

CHM Directed study at Netley

Over the break I tried to make up as much lost time as possible at the Netley store since I got a bit of a late start with my directed study. Here is what I got up to for anyone who is interested :) :

Wednesday 14th of April

I recorded and illustrated several collections of artefacts from the archaeological collection, which mainly consists of stone tools and pottery sherds collected in the field. The collection I began recording today included two hammer stones, a large pottery sherd collection and a smaller obsidian artefact collection which consisted for the most part of laterally broken blade pieces. Within each collection the individual pieces were all labelled with the same registration number, so in recording each item individually it became important to illustrate each piece with an eye for the features that made it unique so that a future researcher would be able to determine which artefact the recording sheet referred to. The scale Aphrodite provided to weigh the items was appropriate for the larger tools and pieces, but was not sensitive enough to accurately weigh the lighter items, so some of the items did not register at all, and those that did may be slightly inaccurate. I also measured the items in line with the writing on them (which usually has the registration number and sometimes the name of the person who donated it and/or the origin of the piece) to avoid confusion, and I also illustrated them in this manner.

I was not able to photograph today, because I forgot to bring my colour card and Aphrodite could not find the charger for the camera she wanted me to use, and the battery was quite low.

Around 4pm we started to smell smoke in the workroom, and to be safe Aphrodite decided to have us call it a day while she contacted the appropriate people.

Thursday 15th of April

I finished recording the A60538 collection, and then set about photographing all of the artefacts I had finished recording to that point, taking care to photograph front and back and keep a photo journal. When it came to the collections of items, such as the pottery sherds and the obsidian blade pieces, I photographed them as a group, in that I had already illustrated the features of each one on the recording forms. Some of the pottery sherds had charring on the backs of them and a couple of them had interesting patterns, so I made sure I took photos of the front and back.The obsidian artefacts proved to be a bit of a problem to photograph, in that they reflected the flash. I tried photographing without the flash, but the image came out very blurry. I finally changed the background colour to a neutral tone (the top of a storage box), and that seemed to help somewhat, but the flash still washed out many of the features. It served to underline the need for item illustrations to accompany the photos.

I also began and finished the A60535 collection, which was a collection of ceramic pot handles. They proved very difficult to draw, in that their curves and the thickness of the handles was not uniform. It made me glad there will also be a photographic back up for my illustrations, which is pretty funny considering how cool I thought my illustrations were. Between the size and weight data, the illustrations, and the photos, I would hope that a future researcher would be able to distinguish between them despite the lack of individual registration numbers.

Monday 19th of April

I recorded a few stone artefact collected by N.B. Tindale today which were collectively labelled as hammer stones, even though one of the four was ground at least a little bit on all sides and ground flat on three of them and one looked more like a core. Only two of the four pieces had markings that indicated that they probably had been used as hammerstones at some point.

In addition to the stone tools I managed to get a small collection of three pottery sherds recorded and illustrated and then I photographed everything I’d completed. We had a short day because I had to go to work.

Wednesday 21st of April

The collections that were left from the box I started on Monday (box 1883) were two large pottery collections which consisted of lots of small sherds and which were also collected by Tindale. I started one (A53081) of the boxes today, even though it was a short day because Aphrodite had meetings in the morning. I got 12 out of 33 done in one of the boxes. Many of the sherds had gold speckles in the clay, and a couple of them had small quartz inclusions, which makes me wonder if the source of the clay for the pottery was located near a quartz or granite quarry. Two of them also had evidence of charring.

Thursday 22nd of April

I finished the A53081 box today, and moved on to a box of stone artefacts, which were collected by Tindale, and collectively called “flakes” but which were nearly all cores. One artefact in the collection looked as though it used to be a blade, but had laterally snapped. They were all fairly complex to illustrate, but the illustration began to make the negative flake scars a bit clearer. I started with a grey core which had five platforms and at least ten negative flake scars. I recorded the artefact but did not finish illustrating it because of the complexity of the artefact. It looked to be made from what I would call porcellenite, but which here would most likely be lumped into the chert category.It was incredibly difficult to illustrate, but the challenge was really fun for me.

Hope I didn’t bore ya to tears.. I’ll add more when I can.

CHM Directed study at Netley

On Tuesday the 8th of April, I met with Aphrodite for the first time. Unfortunately, the storage area was flooded due to local storms and as a result she was kept busy dealing with the disaster, but I was given access to the collections from the Americas and she asked me to familiarize myself with the collection as well as take a preliminary inventory of some of the Central American artefacts to make sure none were missing. She also explained what she wanted me to do, such as the forms she needed me to fill out and what she expected of the photographs, etc.

As it happened, one of the ceramic dishes from box 1292, shelf 6 was missing. Some of the boxes that were meant to be on shelf 6 were on shelves 5 and 7, so I hope that during further research it may turn out to have been placed in the wrong box, and that it may have been misplaced rather than truly lost.

Some of the artefacts I examined had clearly been put on display before; the display cards were present in the box along with the artefacts. The collection from Central America which I had been asked to inventory contained several intact earthenware pitchers and several glazed ceramic dishes that had been a private collection. The pitchers were glazed inside, but only halfway down the outside of the vessel. The dishes were white glazed and decorated with bright blue, green, and yellow markings. They were all in good condition, considering their age; most dated to the early 1900’s according to museum records and accompanying handwritten notes placed inside the pitchers and only had a few chips and scratches to show for their hundred years of existence. Most were originally received as gifts, and most likely they were cherished and well-preserved.

In the course of familiarizing myself with the collections from the Americas, I found a series of hand-woven baskets from Western North America, the area that is now Seattle, according to the accompanying notes. The baskets were interesting to me, because they had familiar patterns woven into the fabric of them; patterns that I grew up seeing during my early days growing up on a reservation in Northern California. It is possible that my tribe made the baskets and that they ended up in the Seattle area through trade networks. Just out of curiosity (since I am meant to be working on the Central American stuff) I am checking the patterns with my family back home.

The Americas collections also include things such as peace pipes and costumes, as well as stone artefacts, dolls, shoes and various garments. It was all incredibly interesting. I spent about three hours doing the inventory and examining the collections. When I was done with that, I had to call it a day because I had to head into town to go to work.