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2005 From the Dig
Archaeology Report

Conservation Report

Data Collection and Storage

Status Report for CgAf-2 2005 Field Season

Data Collection and Storage
Gillian Noseworthy - Curator

The lab crew did a remarkable job keeping the lab in order and keeping the flow of processing of materials. As curator/collections manager at MUN, I enjoy immensely working with the people and artifacts at the Ferryland Project. I hope to be able to continue to assist the Colony of Avalon as it develops its capacity as a unique research and education facility.

Artifact Processing
The artifact catalogue numbers assigned during the 2005 field season indicates approximately 23,000 artifacts processed in the lab. This figure excludes items that are not typically assigned numbers, such as roof slate, and artifacts that were recovered too late in the season to progress through the full cataloguing system. Such artifacts will count as “backlogged” materials that will be processed at the beginning of next season. The 2004 season had ended with a considerable data entry backlog, dating back to 2003. This material was worked on at Memorial University over the winter of 2004 by two students hired through faculty grants, and intermittently during the 2005 field season by the Archaeology Project’s data entry operator. 10, 000 backlogged field tags were entered over this period. There remains about 300 entries to be completed from the backlogged materials, and approximately 2000 entries remain from the 2005 season.

Overall, the Data Entry was reasonably successful, with the reduction in previous year’s backlog and maintenance of current season’s data on par with the cataloguing process. The data entry operators were diligent and processed on average 230 field tags per day. Over the last two years the electronic database has been undergoing an upgrade from DB IV to MS Access. It is an evolving process, in an attempt to make the data entry and information retrieval more efficient and accurate. There is still work to be done to improve the functionality of the database, and training must be given to anyone who will be working with the system to ensure data quality. Data quality remains a problem which will have to be evaluated during the down-time of winter. A plan is in process for a user and maintenance manual and perhaps a mini-workshop at the beginning of next season that hopefully will mitigate further data quality issues. One of the difficulties managing a data-entry system from a distant location is the down-time associated when there are problems. This could be reduced by the presence of a dedicated individual who can troubleshoot problems with the system as well as maintain the database on a daily basis.

Much of the CgAf-2 and CgAf-4 (Ferryland pool) collections have been relocated from Memorial University’s archaeology storage to the Colony of Avalon Building in Ferryland. In July, 14 lane cases worth of glass and ceramic materials, as well as some of the lead, copper and pewter objects were shipped. Lane trays were wrapped with the objects they contained, along with two large wooden cabinets that also held metal trays. The remainder of the ceramic and glass collections were packed in banker’s boxes and moved in smaller batches by Memorial University staff when traveling to Ferryland from St. John’s. The documentation associated with the CgAf-4 collection was delivered along with the artifacts. This includes field tags, printed data and electronic format database. Memorial retains the original field tag collection for CgAf-2, but this will be delivered to the Colony of Avalon in due course. Memorial University still retains portions of the Ferryland and Pool collections, primarily the iron and most of the organic materials such as wood and textile fragments. These currently occupy approximately 1/3 of our storage space at the University. If the entire collection is to be relocated to the Ferryland site, accommodations for the sheer quantity of the materials must be made in addition to considerations for proper storage conditions for their preservation as well as proper organization for retrieval of artifacts and information.

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