Small tables, clean trays. A view of the dorm next door. This is the new field in which I continue my archaeology training. The lab. Ever since pulling the first artifact out of my unit, I have looked forward to taking a much closer, and more connected look at the objects themselves.
The physical act of excavation is exhilarating, intense, and powerful, but I have looked forward most to the analysis and early stages of reconstructing the function, date, origin, and possible meaning(s) or each artifact. First step: washing. Removing just a few years’ worth of soil, or many decades of it, it reveals the beauty that time has hidden away. Then comes the fun part: cataloging. These are the first stages that we take in order to preserve and organize the data we have collected. For many this process is something that many do not look forward to, but for me, it is something that I do in small ways constantly within my daily life, such as my organization of my art, notes, and various other things. The sorting by type, identifying the many types, counting and weighing, and bagging; what a joy. Though not always as straightforward, the challenges make you stop and think of what you are trying to do with such a collection. All of this organization gave me a much better view of what we found at the site, since each individual does not get the joy to see every artifact whilst in the field.
During the course of the field school each student assumed a leadership role.. A role in which we are able to showcase our talents and interests in an archaeological setting by drawing upon our established skills, or building new ones by exploring and contributing to something new. Mine became artifact illustration. This role has quickly become a dream of mine for a possible career choice in the future. Being able to engage with artifacts on a much closer basis, and by extension their users and makers for me is the closest and most powerful way to go about archaeology. And so I began the illustration of a few of the most interesting artifacts that we came across. A couple of glass vessel fragments, a fragment of a bracelet, and a sardine can key (which was an easy choice, since sardines are among my favorite treats). The process of looking at the materials being used, the amount of decay, and even the colour, and then using my skill to render them upon blank paper brought me even closer to the artifacts and the stories that they tell. It was an experience unlike any other. I enjoy the precision needed to represent fully the details of the object as well as the time it took to capture the simple beauty. Along with this joy came a certain level of difficulty. Every little detail from the slight cracks and breaks to even the level and style of shading had to be perfect.
But any challenge presents growth and the new possibility to grow. Especially one that could lead to something that one day might define me. Now having finished the illustrations, I can sit back and enjoy the outcome as well as the feeling of creating the image while still waiting for the next opportunity to give new life to objects using the power of art.