Native American Cultures HomeScholastic Explorers
Native American Cultures HomeEarthwatch

We catalogued 315 bags of artifacts!

We used toothbrushes to wash the artifacts.

Data on each bag of artifacts is carefully recorded.


Our last day in the canyon was a busy one, and so Iím writing this from the airplane on my way home to New Jersey. Our Earthwatch team spent Friday morning washing, sorting, bagging, and cataloging artifacts. Each bag of artifacts we collected from the site was emptied, and each item (except for charcoal and bone) was carefully cleaned using a toothbrush.

After the artifacts had dried in the sun, we sorted them and labeled a new bag for each type of artifact that came out of the original bag collected at the site: ceramics (pottery shards), lithics (stone that has been worked, like arrowheads), bone, etc.

Each of these new bags was given a unique number, and each one was cataloged in a notebook. The catalog includes information about what the artifacts are, where they were found, how deep in the ground they were found, when they were found, how many of them are in the bag, and who cataloged them. This information can be entered into a computer database and sorted in many different ways to help the archaeologist detect patterns that will help us learn about the people who left them behind.

This process was fun because it gave us a chance to see all the artifacts we had found, as well as to look at things that were found in the units where our teammates were working.

When we were all finished, we had 315 bags of artifacts! All of these artifacts will be examined in a lab to see what clues they hold about the people who lived at the Montoya site. It will be interesting to find out what new things we learn!

Credits: Courtesy of Shayne Russell