Archaeology lab practicum – beginnings

By Kathryn Berg, PSU undergraduate student

Ceramic photography

Two classmates helping photograph this lamp artifact for it to be cataloged. Photo by Kathryn Berg.

This winter term, 2019, I’ve been working with Shelby Anderson and her collection excavated from a NW Alaskan site in the Bering Land Bridge region. Most of this work has been helping organize sections of the collection that became disorganized over a few years. This collection is mainly of pottery pieces, including body sherds, rim sherds, fragments and other various miscellaneous pieces. I’ve become familiar with the catalog and labeling systems as well as being able to identify whether the  artifact is a fragment, body sherd, or a rim sherd. During this time I also drew outlines of rim sherds in order to see patterns of shapes and sizes.

Later in this half of lab I was able to learn more about photographing the artifacts, using a scale for reference as well as how the lighting is set up, where shadows need to be angled, and how to adjust aperture on the camera to minimize shine, contrast, and maximize focus. This varies with smaller and larger items being photographed. Lighting and background need to be frequently readjusted for each artifact being photographed since every unit is unique. Then the photos need to be documented with their aperture and photo number written down for record keeping. This process can take quite a while to get good images!

Measuring pottery

Two classmates working on artifact measurements. Photo by Kathryn Berg.

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