Glen Dornoch Laboratory Methods

General Lab Methods

Glen Dornoch Lab Methods of Artifacts

Artifact processing

Prior to in-depth analysis, all artifacts were washed in warm soapy water. The artifacts were then allowed to dry thoroughly. A provenience number, based on artifact contexts (i.e., grid coordinate, unit level, feature, etc.), was assigned to each positive excavation location. Within each provenience, each individual artifact or artifact class was then assigned a catalog number. Artifacts were cataloged based on specific morphological characteristics such as material in the case of lithics, and decoration and temper type in the case of ceramics. Ceramics and formal lithic tools were compared to published type descriptions and cataloged by type when possible. Sherds less than 2 cm (0.8 in) in diameter were classified as residual. Occasionally, a residual sherd with clearly identifiable decoration was used as part of ceramic analysis, especially when the residual sherd mended with another sherd. Artifact descriptions, counts and weights were recorded and entered into an Access database. All diagnostic and cross-mended artifacts were labeled with a solution of Acryloid B-72 and acid free permanent ink.

Ceramic Analyses

Preliminary analysis of prehistoric ceramic sherds was undertaken in order to identify basic typological and stratigraphic information about the entire collection, and to provide a basis from which to approach more in-depth secondary analysis. Our sherd collection comprised all diagnostic sherds from the Data Recovery stage of excavations at Glen Dornoch; artifacts from earlier survey and testing phases were generally not used in ceramic analysis, with a few exceptions.

Glen Dornoch Lab Methods of Ceramic AnalysesSecondary analysis was conducted in order to provide an estimate of the minimum number of vessels (MNV) for each site. During secondary analysis at Glen Dornoch, all diagnostic ceramic sherds from each excavation block were examined as a standard analytical unit; all sherds that could be cross-mended across proveniences within a given block were glued together at this time. Though individual blocks were the standard unit for separating unique vessel types, at least one vessel mended across two blocks.

Records were then made of all distinct vessels, as distinguished by surface decoration, temper, and other physical features such as rim form. The size, shape, and individual characteristics of the vessels were examined and recorded on a form. Vessels were stored as such for curation purposes.

Once determined, vessels were generally numbered consecutively from block to block within each site. All provenience and catalog numbers and the respective numbers of sherds from each were noted, as well as a total sherd count and the number of sherds that mended together. The percent of the vessel that was present was approximated.

The surface decoration of each vessel was carefully observed and recorded. Decoration types included fabric impressed, plain, cordmarked, check stamped, simple stamped, scraped, incised, punctate, and a single instance of rosette applique. Occasionally, surface decoration was indeterminate. Interior surface treatments were usually smoothed or scraped to varying degrees of quality, though some sherds were eroded or had interior surface treatments that were difficult to determine.

Production attributes, in the form of visible coil breaks, were noted where applicable. Any other special, unique, or notable features of each vessel were also recorded, including vessel depth, where possible, and any perceptible post-manufacture use or modification of the vessel or sherd(s).

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