Site Review Locate, Survey Site Test Excavations
Grid Layout Excavate, Level by Level Screening
What Do We Find? Lab Process, Report Writing Site Preservation


While the general public thinks of archaeologists as "diggers," excavation is only the data recovery portion of our work. More time is spent in the laboratory processing the artifacts recovered, cataloging, entering into computer databases, and writing up final reports for publications. FOSA provides volunteer opportunities for laboratory and report-writing participation; and has also established and maintains a fund for radiocarbon dating of artifacts.


If you take a close look at the last 4 "Excavation" photos, you'll see small brown paper bags near the excavators. These contain the artifacts excavated, and are the starting point for the Processing function. Recorded on the bags are things such as the date, site, grid, grid-quadrant, and depth that the artifact(s) were recovered from. Arguably, these are the most important things that are taken from a site, pending laboratory analysis.

Most Processing activities are the same regardless of where they're done. The Ohio State University maintains a site where these steps are described in some detail; you can access that site by clicking here.

Additional information can be found by checking the Volunteer Opportunities: Lab Work page on this web site.

While the laboratory tasks are important, where historic sites are involved there's one research aspect that can be overlooked: interviewing people knowledgable in the area, such as members of local historical societies, and researching printed material such as newspapers, books, journals, and so forth.

One of the books in the Reference Books page of this web site, History Matters by James N. Littlefield, describes many instances of uncovering the story of objects unearthed on excavations by students in East Lyme, CT by making use of this resource. Indeed, many of the books on that page are taken from the Article Reprints pages' bibliographies of this web site. These constitute an invaluable research aid.

This is an important - indeed critical - activity in helping us understand what happened at that site. And it all starts with those small brown paper bags.

Report Writing and Presentation

While there are many potential venues for these, the documentation and storage of sites' results are generally kept in the Connecticut Archaeological Center's archives. And while all artifacts legally belong to the property owner, they are often donated to the CAC and/or to town historical organizations or other museums.

Presentation, however, can be done in any number of places, not least of which is at the FOSA Annual Meetings and at various open-house events where FOSA is invited to have a display.

The following photographs are taken from several such annual meetings and displays.