All of the cultural artifacts recovered from archaeological projects must be washed, cataloged, analyzed, and prepared for curation. Maintaining the provenience of artifacts is an important element of the laboratory phase, as artifacts have more meaning in the context of where they were found. In archaeology, provenience refers to the detailed description of the location where an artifact was recovered, both horizontally (in what area of the site) and vertically (how deeply below ground). New South staff maintains tight control over all provenience records at all steps in the laboratory analysis process.
When artifacts arrive at New South Associates’ laboratory, each artifact type is cleaned in the appropriate manner and then sorted for analysis. While certain types of data are recorded for all artifacts, other recorded traits are tailored to the specific research and compliance needs of the project. All artifact analysis data is compiled into a database for that project. New South Associates has developed and maintains database systems for both prehistoric and historic artifact analysis. These interactive systems allow project archaeologists to analyze, summarize, tabulate, and report project data in a consistent and expedient manner. Our laboratory is set up for direct data entry during artifact analysis, which reduces data entry errors and speeds analysis. After the analysis phase is complete, Our lab staff prepares the artifacts for curation (long-term storage), based on the appropriate federal, state, and repository-specific guidelines. Artifacts are only kept at New South Associates for the duration of the project. When the project is completed, the artifacts are submitted to the appropriate federal, state, or private curation facility.
In addition to New South Associates’ experience analyzing archaeological collections, we also provide curation and collections management services for the permanent collections of agencies and organizations. Information on these services can be found under Historic Preservation Planning.