Hi! This is Lauren, and this is my first blog post, so bear with me.
Today, day 9 on the site, we got to learn the first step of finds processing – cleaning the finds! I have to say, this was really what I’ve been waiting for here. I am extremely interested in finds processing and museum studies, so this was absolutely thrilling for me! Each of us was given a bag of potsherds and bone fragments from a specific context, a bucket of “warm” water and a toothbrush.
Oh, yes. I was prepared.
It was actually really cool, in part just because we were cleaning things that had come out of a different trench from the one we were working in – we hadn’t seen any of this stuff. We also learned a great deal about the different kinds of pottery which can come out of the site. I even cleaned a small fragment of decorated samian ware, which was very neat.
I think, though, that the most incredible experience in this two hour session was not cleaning the pottery – it was cleaning the bone. The almost two thousand year old animal bone is remarkably well preserved, just like the famous writing tablets on the site, but some of it is a little… squishy. Sometimes it crumbles in your hands, and that’s when it gets a little, well, icky. The coolest and weirdest thing that I cleaned today was a part of a jaw bone, which Justin (the site Deputy Director) identified as having come from a young pig. Let me tell you, the size and texture of those teeth felt… well, remarkably human. It was very, very cool, but just a little bit unnerving.
Of course, this hasn’t been the hardest work I’ve done here. It has, however, been one of my favourite parts of the field school so far, and I still sometimes can’t believe how lucky I am to be here, tackling ancient dirt with a toothbrush. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in less than two weeks, and I can’t wait to get back to the site to learn more!