On January 26, 2011, the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology opened its new Archaeological Materials Laboratory. With the financial support of the local engineering firm of Hurt and Proffitt, the lab has been outfitted with equipment to process, catalog, analyze and archivally curate artifacts from a variety of archaeological sources.
The new lab fulfills multiple functions as a teaching lab, as a research lab and as part of a contract archaeology program. Working with real artifacts in the lab, students learn what happens to artifacts after excavation.
Starting from bags of excavated artifacts, students learn how archaeological context, so carefully recorded in the field, is preserved through meticulous laboratory procedures. In the laboratory, students learn how to clean, record, identify, analyze and interpret, and finally archivally store a variety of materials and artifact types.
In collaboration with the Cultural Resources Management section of Hurt and Proffitt, qualified students may gain paid professional experience within an ongoing business environment. Working under department faculty direction, students may be employed to process artifacts from Hurt and Proffitt's contract archaeology projects.
The lab also supports the stewardship of the Sweet Briar community's heritage as it processes and manages artifacts from past and ongoing archaeological surveys and excavations on campus.