To review from my previous post, I’m Michelle, the current SEAC intern and my series of posts (this being the second one) describe my experiences as an intern here. Each post is divided by the division I worked in for the respective week or two.
As my first week at SEAC came to an end and I ran back to Gainesville for the weekend to grab some items I had left behind, I couldn’t help but think about how the next segment of my internship was going to be like. I had hardly processed artifacts outside of the typical in-the-field F.S.-ing (assigning field specimen numbers) of artifact bags and so I was excited to actually receive lab experience. With the arrival of Tuesday, as Monday had been a federal holiday, I went straight to Hank Kratt’s office ready to work! I spent a total of two weeks in Curation, dividing my time between weighing artifacts from a historic site in the Great Smokey Mountains, sorting faunal remains from the Everglades, and labeling and tagging artifacts from Cane River. Essentially I had an opportunity to work with a wide variety of artifacts, all represented within the vast spectrum of Southeast Archaeology, from porcelain insulators to a Ladyfish vertebra. The work performed by Curation is by far more complicated than weighing, sorting, and labeling. Curation puts together the puzzle pieces left behind by decades of archaeological excavations that were poorly cataloged or no longer fit within today’s guidelines of ethical or reasonable collections and archives management. Without the Curation division, SEAC as a repository would essentially cease to function efficiently as the backlog cataloging piled up and the incredible amount of fascinating artifacts would wither away in a dusty box without the opportunity to be available for analysis. In addition to learning about the artifacts themselves I also gained insight into the importance of fine-tuning what is collected in the field and processed initially to avoid cataloging modern items and understanding that everything does not need to be collected in the field, for example, charcoal that is not associated with a particular artifact or feature or modern rope. These insights helped guide my decisions and improve my efficiency when I worked in the field a few week later. Overall, while others may find sorting and labeling tedious activities, I found a calm zen aspect behind my work and honestly it feels pretty awesome to understand the differences in basic fauna identification.