Indiana Jones never had to rubber stamp 400 artifact bags…

My second week of research is drifting to an end. Come Monday morning, I’ll be embarking on a 14-hour car ride to Mobile, Alabama. I can’t believe how quickly my prep weeks at William and Mary have gone by – part of me wishes I could have them all back to re-live (just to have more time to wander around campus and CW, hang out with friends…and, uh, do some more background reading, obviously!). Most of me, however, is ready to move on to the next part of the adventure.

So, what exactly have I been doing? I am going to be completely honest and admit that not all of it is what we would call “fun.” Cataloging the photos of the Africatown community’s graveyard involves checking and doubling checking my spreadsheet against the written log, trying to decipher my professor’s handwriting, and tediously renaming about 800 files. After a couple hours, my brain feels like the microwave oatmeal I had for breakfast a few days ago. Bending Microsoft Word to your will when trying to format feature and test level/unit paperwork for the excavation can be frustrating beyond words. Honestly, sometimes those programs actually keep you from getting your work done instead of helping you! Still, there are a thousand less interesting things I could be doing. And, I’m lucky to be able to do this in such nice surroundings. I did a good chunk of that work sitting on a bench outside Jamestown South watching the sunset and listening to my athletically disposed fellow students hold a soccer tournament. Other times I work at the Daily Grind, listening to the opinions of the people around me and being begged for crumbs by a particularly outgoing catbird.

I have to say, though, that cataloguing grave photos has its own rewards. Where else would you come across a cool name like “Euphenia Toodle”? But on the serious side, the work I’m doing is likely to have concrete benefits. In order for a cemetery to be recognized as “historic,” the Alabama Historical Commission requires representative photographs of the cemetery’s graves. Hopefully, the better organized and clearer the photos are, the more pleased the powers that be of the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register will be, and thus more inclined to give the cemetery historic status! Achieving such a status is also sort of a prerequisite for the National Register of Historic Places, which is our eventual goal for the whole Africatown area.

Well, this is where I leave you until my journey begins. I may or may not be able to update from the road – we’ll see how prevalent wi-fi hotspots are! Here are a couple pictures to tide you over until then…

Our equipment in the "staging area" of the lab

Our equipment in the "staging area" of the lab

Closer to me than you ever wanted to get. Note archaeological terminology on stamp - site, context #, etc.

Closer to me than you ever wanted to get. Note archaeological terminology on stamp - site, context #, etc.

Comments

  1. Sounds cool. So what are you doing when you get there?