My main task in the lab is to wash the artifacts that are discovered by archaeologists in the field. The process is carried out simply with a toothbrush, a trough of water and a drying rack. Before the artifacts reach the lab they are placed into paper bags that record where on the archaeological grid they were found, which site they came from, the date they were found, and the initials of the person(s) who uncovered them. I empty the contents into the water or into a colander that sits in the water and gently brush the dirt off the artifacts until they are clean. Once the artifacts from a bag are is clean I place them into their own position on the drying rack along with the details from the paper bag where they sit until it they are dry enough to be bagged.
Once the artifacts have had time to dry, they are ready to be bagged. The first task during the bagging process is to separate the artifacts by the material they are made of, for example, all nails together, all lithics together, all glass together, etc. This task is only required if more than one type of artifact was found in the same coordinate. Once the artifacts are properly divided each grouping gets its own small bag which is labeled with the site name, the date they were recovered, the person(s) who recovered them and their coordinates. It is important that an archival pen is used during the labeling process. The small bag(s) is then placed into a larger bag that is labeled as well. The bagging is done with each artifact or set of artifacts until all from that site are bagged. They are then stored in an archival box until needed.