Before we could begin to excavate the Montoya site, it was important
for us to have a lesson on record keeping. We learned that the site
is divided into a grid of 1 meter by 1 meter square, which helps
to keep track of where artifacts are found. Each of the units we
are working in is identified by two coordinates that indicate how
many meters to the north and to the east they are from a set point
on the site. You might have learned this coordinate system as ordered
pairs. The unit I started working in, for example, is 553N 1022E.
Record keeping is critical! When you do a research project for your teacher, you need to take notes and keep track of where you got your information. Archaeologists must do this too.
Before anything is removed from the unit, measurements are taken in each corner,
a sketch of the unit is drawn, and a field note journal is started.
Our fieldwork journals include information about where we are working,
who we are working with, what we are doing, and even what the weather
is like. Our journals will stay behind when we leave Monticello
Canyon and will become part of the official archaeological record
for the site.
The artifacts we find are placed in paper bags, which are carefully
marked with all the information necessary to tell where the artifacts
were found. Our field journals and other record sheets we fill out
in the field make it possible for Karl, the archaeologist, to double-check
information by checking one source against another.
Long after our team of Earthwatch volunteers has returned home, Karl will be able to use the data we recorded in the field and the artifacts we found to help answer questions about the history of the site and the people who lived here.
Credits: Courtesy of Shayne Russell