Monday, September 10, 2012

Floating Samples: A Good Way To Start A Monday

Greetings folks!
Jordan and Leah floating soil samples.
       Today we floated soil samples that were collected during the 2012 field season. Flotation is just one of many methods used by archaeologists to collect more information about a site. We start by filling our Flote-Tech Flotation Machine with water. The flotation machine has a system of pvc pipes that connect to a small pump. The pvc jets gently push water up towards the surface, separating the light from the heavy fractions, as well as assisting in clearing out the soil. The light fraction consists of seeds, charcoal, and other lighter material. This light fraction floats to the surface and over to a separate screen area. The heavy fraction consists of seed beads, lead shot, bone, and a variety of other heavy materials. The heavy fraction remains at the bottom of a separate screen. Once the soil sample has been completely sorted by the flotation machine, they are set out to dry, and will be bagged and sorted into more detailed categories in the future. This process helps us, especially, to recover seeds that may be too small to find while excavating. We'll let you know later what we recover from them! 
      Today also marks the first day that our independent study students started their work in the lab! Students participated in both the flotation as well as entering data into past perfect (our database system). We have a tremendous crew this year, consisting of Leah Rice, Michelle Letang, Cassie Mohney, and Tabitha Hubbard. Each of our new lab crew members participated as students in the past field season, so you may have already met them! If not, they will be introducing themselves and updating you on their work in the future. Thanks for stopping by! We'll update you again soon!