martedì 9 settembre 2014

Training at the Archaeological Archive - day 3

This post is about my experience at the Archaeological archive of London as a Family and school volunteer. I wrote it in Italian this past January and now it has been translated to English too. You can find the previous posts HERE. Thank you for reading!

Trovate la versione in italiano in questo vecchio post QUI

Day 3 of my training at LAARC: we received further information about "sorting" and "repacking" and we also studied the best way to deliver our sessions to children.

Last time I mentioned the tips sheets that help in the pot sorting challenge. These sheets have a circle on them and some tips about which potsherd can be placed on which circle. Each team has a box full of different finds, they must read the tips and choose the potsherd they have found that can fit with the description on the sheet.
 Let's start with some simply tips about Roman Pottery:
    • I'm made of clay
    • I have a smooth surface
    • I'm decorated
    • I'm made of clay
    • I have a rough surface
    • I'm not decorated
  3. I'm NOT a ROMAN POT
    • I'm made of clay/bone/glass/stone
    • I belong to another Era
We reasoned about the object's function and his shape: a common inexpensive pot (for instance an amphora) is not decorated and polished as an expensive bowl used for an important dinner (a Samian Ware). We also looked at this object's material: if it's not made of clay, or if it has been finely glassed, then maybe it's not a Roman pot and you have to looking forward for more information.

If you have still doubts about sorting  your pottery, the following information will give you a more accurate idea about the each Roman pot:
  1. Samian ware - (Expensive Roman Pot)
    • I'm red-orange
    • I'm smooth on both sides
  2. Poppy beaker - (Expensive Roman Pot)
    • I'm gray
    • I'm smooth on both sides
    • I have a dotted pattern on one side
  3. Mortarium (Cheap Roman Pot)
    • I'm white or red
    • I'm smooth outside and rough  inside
Then we sorted the other finds that are NOT Roman Pottery, because they belong to the following Eras:
  1. Medieval
    •  I'm shiny and green on one side
    •  I'm white inside
    •  I'm brown on one side
    •  I'm red inside
    •  I'm very hard
    •  I'm grey inside
    •  I'm cream or brown outside
    •  I might have a face (Bellarmine jugs)
    •  I'm white inside
    •  I have a blue pattern
    •  I'm thin and delicate
When the teams have placed every piece in the right circle it's easy to have a global overview about the characteristic of each find.
This week the activity was slightly different though: we set up on four tables with some trays containing finds from different eras on them:
  1. Finds made of BONE or SHELL, GLASS, or OTHER (Leather or metal)
  2. Pottery: 
    • Roman
    • Medieval
  3. Pottery: 
    • Tudor/Stuart
    • Georgian/Victorian
  4. Building finds (pieces of the mosaic floor, bricks, tiles ...)
Each table was managed by a volunteer. Teams had to compare their objects with those on the tables. They could ask volunteer to give them further information and then fill the following sheet:   
  1. Drawing the most important object you have found on your box
  2. Explaining the choise describing the find.
  3. Telling someting about the use of this object in the past.
In this activity children have to observe similarities between their objects and the objects on display  examining each table one at the time. This helps them focus on each find and get more information about it.

We also did another activity to draw a link between the modern object and the object used in the past. Using a poster showing a Roman house's plant, we had to place the finds on each of the room's pictures according to their function. For instance: if your object is a food container you must place it on the picture showing the kitchen, if you have an oil lamp you can put it on the picture of the bedroom, and if you have a mosaic tile you can put it on the picture of the hall that's showing a mosaic floor.

Regarding the repacking activity, we had observed the labels in the finds' bags thoroughly, or the possible lack of them. 
Each label has three field to be completed:
Label and findings with unreadable code

Site - it indicates the Archaeological site where the find has been found and the year of the excavation. It's written using a code, for instance "BC87" means "Bedford Castle 1987"
Context - it is the specific area of the site where the finds was lying on. Each site is divided into areas coded with letters and numbers.
Description of Find (s) -this is the find's material, you have just to write "pot" if it is pottery, or else (bone, flint..) if it is made of other material.  

As I mentioned before, it's possible to have finds bag without their label. In this case you have to look at the finds inside. The Site and the Context code should be written on each find, but it might be difficult to read it when you have pieces smaller than a thumb nail.
Sometimes, you have pieces with different context code in the same bag: you have to sort them by context and place them in different bags.  
This activity took me long time: I needed some help to read the codes and sort my micro-finds (I wasn't able to read the code on them!).

Then we showed each other how to repack finds properly, as we would have to show it to children, and others volunteer had to ask us questions like children do (Why? why?why?). 
It was a good training in order to understand how to manage children and how to explain not trivial things as simple as possible. 

2 commenti:

  1. A parte che avevo scambiato i primi frammenti per pezzi di cioccolato, ma mi piace come cosa, perché magari impari come nei diversi secoli ci siano stati diversi stili e gusti. certo, penso che al centesimo pezzetto di due centimetri senza etichetta, urlerei e butterei tutto all'aria!

    1. Mmmm.... Già mi sono svegliata con voglia di pane e nutella, ora tu mi fai pensare a pezzetti di cioccolato! :-D... Sarebbe bellissimo poter mangiare i frammenti che non si leggono bene! XD


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