Saturday, June 18, 2011

June 15: Water Screening is Cool (and Nick Lifton mini-video)

Mini-Video:Meet Nick Lifton--water screening

     Starting at the beginning of this week, Monday June 13th, the students of the 2011 Historical Archaeological Field School started to water screen. The water screening is to ensure that any artifacts that were possibly missed during when the dirt was removed from each pair's unit, or after the original (dry) screening.

Helen Brandt dry screening
      After the dry screening through 1/4" mesh back at each pair's respective unit, the
dirt is then shoveled from the tarp to a wheelbarrow until full, and then taken over to the water screening station. To properly water screen your pre-screened dirt, a few shovel fulls are put onto a screen which is held up by two wooden sawhorses. It is important to make sure that the screen does not have too much dirt and or mud on it at any one time as it will make it difficult to sift through it.
Lorelei Schak taking a load of excavated soil to the water screening station
      Ideally one person from the pair will use the hose and have a constant spray of water on the screen and dirt, while the other person in the pair will add dirt and use their hand or a trowel to clear away the dirt
and clumps, leaving only the artifacts.

      Once the dirt/mud is fully removed, the remaining artifacts are placed on a tray which should have a paper towel or some other material that will be used to soak up the water. The screen should be sprayed from the reverse side and then should be cleaned to remove any plant life that may, and probably will, get stuck in the screen. The artifacts are spread out to allow for drying and then given a tag which will include
the date, plot number, plot size, coordinates and left with the tray and artifacts.

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