The field phase of our Methodist church excavation is officially done. Yesterday, Hamline’s Grounds Services hauled back all our excavated dirt and filled in our trench. No backfilling by hand for us. My students will never truly appreciate their luck in missing this traditional part of archaeology.
We are now in the lab phase of our project. Our first step is to clean and inventory our collections. What to do with mortar? What to do with lumps of oxidized iron and sand? These are the “fire-cracked rock” of modern urban sites.
The stained glass shards are still my favorite artifact. The splash of color catches my eye as I move around the lab, especially compared to the earthy bricks, limestone, and rusty metal that dominate our collections. We are also finding some dramatic evidence of the fire that destroyed the church, especially as captured in the fusion of melted glass, nails, and wood. Once we finish the inventory we will begin the analysis phase. That’s when we make the real discoveries in archaeology.