Archaeology is the study of past artifacts such as bones, shell, or pottery, in order to construct hypotheses of past behaviors. Sediment is collected from sites through varying techniques including shovel tests and square units. The sediment is then sieved through a 1/4 inch mesh screen in order to differentiate any potential artifacts. While the ¼ inch screen is the standard, it holds the potential for data loss, as smaller artifacts can be lost due to the relatively large size of the holes in the sieve. This is particularly true in areas such as Florida, where sites often have middens, or ancient dumping grounds for past cultures, which contain small, possibly broken artifacts. Smaller bones or shells that potentially show certain animals were used as food could be lost due to their size.
Here we utilized a 1/8 inch screen instead of the ¼ inch screen in the sieving process. We then sieved the artifacts through a ¼ inch screen to see the difference of artifacts retrieved between the two. What we expected is to have larger quantities of artifacts recovered by the finer mesh screen versus the use of the standard screens. The results supported our hypothesis showing that a large quantity of bone was being lost using the ¼ inch screen, indicating that a finer mesh screen such as the 1/8 inch or potentially a 1/16 inch would be more beneficial. By collecting the smaller artifacts potentially lost by the ¼ inch screen we can compile a better understanding of what prehistoric indigenous people consumed in Florida.
Lynn University Arts and Sciences Student Symposium
Boca Raton, FL
College of Arts and Sciences
McDowell, J., Meyers, J., Watson, A., & Lecher, A. L. (2019, March 26). Examining the effects of screen size on archaeological data collection [Poster presentation]. College of Arts and Sciences Student Symposium, Lynn University, Boca Raton, FL, United States.