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Cataloguing Artifacts

The attached videos feature Rebecca who is working on the “in between” step to help the cataloguer.  She is using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the items found in the field bags. If any interesting items are found or notes need to be made associated with the unit items being cleaned, they are documented. This will help the cataloguer and make it easy to access certain artifacts when all items are put into storage.

Artifacts are also sorted into smaller bags within the larger field bag. For example, ceramic patterns are sorted and matched if possible and bones might be put together.

Some of the coolest things that have been found are bottles with embossed writing. A lot of information can be gained from these bottles. One item was found to be from a quack doctor’s “miracle medicine” concoction.

You can learn more about cataloguing artifacts in the Museum of Ontario Archaeology’s temporary exhibit: “Winter Archaeology”.  

cataloging artifacts

Excerpt from the exhibit:

Cataloguing ensures information about objects, where they were found, and their relationship to other objects is recorded. Throughout every step of the archaeological process, archaeologists make sure detailed information from the excavation stay with the artifacts. Cataloguing ensures this information is transferred into a permanent record by assigning a unique registration (accession) number to an artifact, identifying and describing its characteristics, and recording its provenience. Cataloguing helps researchers easily access information about an artifact, research, and draw further conclusions about the site.

MOA currently has our cataloguing station set up in the gallery. You can see curatorial assistants and volunteers working at the station entering information into PastPerfect (museum software for collection management).