The afternoon was devoted to a workshop devoted to developing a skills matrix in our specific fields to aid applicants and those deciding if a candidate meets the relevant criteria. Whilst that discussion is ongoing, it has also reminded me of an ongoing task to update the NOS to include more finds skills. so I have started compiling a list of those skills needed for finds work. So this is a bit of an exercise recreating steps in finds work which I will try to do this over the next few entries: on site; initial processing; specialists, archiving
Starting on site:
material is excavated (ideally). Some finds may need to have there location recorded - usually'small finds' but the most interesting data I'v noted is from nails - where you can get traces of long since vanished wooded superstructures such as doors and boats marked out by the nails' final resting place. This will require a unique number being given to the find ( small find number) so we can associate it with the 3d coordinates recorded. After recording its location finds will need to be lifted. normally this is straight forward - stone bone pottery etc is fairly robust and can be placed in a suitably labelled bag or tray.Occasionally delicate objects will require special lifting, so we may need to call in a specialist conservator. Some finds types will also need to be sampled, and some deposits may be sampled as well and have finds retrieved from sieving or flotation. We need to keep context integrity so lifted finds need to be kept in a labelled bag ( or tray) indicating site and context number, as well as any other numbers as appropriate ( small find nos, sample nos) I also liked dates and initials on labels which help solve any problems that may arise...)
freshly lifted finds shouldn't be kept in air tight sealed bags as they retain moisture and sweating will damage them, but the bags used should be robust enough so that they don't split ( and one shouldn't over pack bags )
then at an appropriate time finds should be taken to the relatively safety of a sitye hut ( hopefully one specially designated for finds treatment).