Cataloguing at Ferryland
Each artifact or sample removed from the burial matrix of an excavation unit is described briefly on a field tag. Exact location, depth below surface, date of excavation and excavator's name are recorded on the tag. Artifact and tag are bagged together and taken to the field laboratory for cleaning and cataloguing. The lab crew writes a catalogue number, the artifact's measurements, a full description, condition, manufacturing technique, conservation remarks and any other relevant information on the tag.
The catalogue number is also fixed to the individual artifact it represents. A field laboratory assistant applies a thin film of clear airplane dope to each artifact. When this dries, the catalogue number, which incorporates geographical information identifying the site and a sequential number in the site catalogue, is written on the film using a steel nib drawing pen and indelible black or white ink and allowed to dry. A final strip of airplane dope seals in the catalogue number.
The labelled artifact is then put on display, or stored with other specimens of the same type and similar provenance. The information on the field tags is entered on a computer. A master file of all the computer records from the site is maintained by the Memorial University archaeological curator, who checks and edits the information where necessary. The curator produces guidelines and authority lists to assist in the field laboratory cataloguing. The computer record allows a catalogue number to be called up and all the associated information about the artifact to be accessed. The catalogue of a collection becomes a permanent record of the artifacts as they were first found by archaeologists.