One of my favorite parts about being a student worker at Sandusky has been learning about the history and heritage of the city firsthand. I was originally introduced to Historic Sandusky as a freshman on a tour, but it was not until I became an upperclassman that I was offered a job at Sandusky’s archaeology lab.
My official title at Sandusky is that of a “Cultural Resource Assistant” and while that is an accurate designation of my role it does not necessarily explain what I do. Work done in the lab builds upon the work of archaeologists out in the field and pieces together contextual information about a site based on their findings. Consequently, an archaeology lab works as a sort of liaison between the field and the museum.
My many responsibilities in the lab have ranged from washing bones to typifying 19th century ceramics. Once an item is accessioned into the lab, we go through the process of cleaning, identifying, and then cataloguing. Afterwards, the artifact can be kept in storage, sent for further conservation work, or exhibited in a display.
When I first began my position at Sandusky’s lab the majority of the work involved cataloguing of artifacts found in the basement of Mead’s Tavern in New London. More recently, excavation has begun at the Alum Springs Hotel. This project has been a lot of fun for me because I’m working on artifacts as they are coming in and get to see the varying contexts of the site as it is unearthed. For example, the first few layers of the site contained mainly 21st and late 20th century artifacts but as the excavation continued, we began seeing a lot more of the artifacts that were typical of older contexts, including many interesting ceramic patterns.
As a university student working in a professional archaeology lab, I have gained a wealth of experience that will benefit me greatly after graduation and in my future career. As a prospective anthropologist I know I have been given a unique opportunity by being able to function hands on in an environment that deals with cultural heritage. Not only have I learned how to process and identify artifacts, but I have learned how to engage with others in a professional environment and developed a social network in Lynchburg and other areas within the region.