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Wessex Week Work Experience - Day 5

The Last Day: 8.4.16

AM: Labelling


My small handwriting came in useful, for once, this morning as I was back in the finds lab to label artefacts. With an ink pen I was labelling very small numbers on pieces of pottery and animal bones, although I was very nervous about getting the numbers wrong Erica reassured me that they can always be taken off with acetone. I labelled four bags of pottery and then the two trays that I had washed yesterday. This was another monotonous task that was very enjoyable, although the white ink was a bit of a pain. Because I had finished all the artefacts to be labelled, I was back to washing and brushing a sheep’s teeth. After having seen the human bones yesterday I was very much enjoying washing the sheep bones having a much better knowledge of bone structures in general.


PM: Conservation of artefacts


In the afternoon I met with Lynn, the conservator, whilst initially the idea of the high levels of chemistry involved scared me as I haven’t touched the subject in two years, conservation actually sounds far more interesting that previously perceived. The different types of adhesive and solvent used were quite mind-boggling as these different chemicals can have an overwhelming effect on the preservation of artefacts. After spending the afternoon with Lynn I have a new found appreciation for how complex conservation is. Lynn also showed me several examples of artefacts she has ‘stuck back together’ and artefacts that the on-site teams had to ask her for advice to remove and conserve them straight away as they looked especially important or fragile. Unfortunately, while Lynn’s work was fascinating and wonderfully intricate, I think my chemistry and eye sight is a bit too poor to pursue this path of archaeology.

The Overview

There were three decisions that I wanted to be sure on after this week – Was archaeology and anthropology the right degree choice? Should I go to Southampton or Bournemouth? What area of archaeology do I want to focus on when I’m further on into my degree? The answer to those three questions – Yes, yes, yes archaeology was a very good decision. To be honest, if anything I am more confused about what uni I want to go to having been given glowing reviews of both. Osteology, at the moment, is a clear favourite of mine and whilst that may change between now and my latter years of uni, I highly doubt it. So in conclusion I’m overwhelming grateful for this opportunity and am still trying to process everything that I’ve absorbed during my week work experience. Also I’d like to put out that I’m available 24/7 for washing, marking or standing in excavations in an oversized high-vis jacket (if you need that). 
I’d like to thank everyone that I worked directly with for being so lovely and patient with me, and for introducing me to many new sections of archaeology that I had previously no idea about; and I’d like to thank everyone around the office for creating such a friendly working environment. Rachel has also been absolutely wonderful and made me feel very safe and welcome, as I’ve stepped hugely out of my comfort zone this week, Rachel made the week very easy and fun. Thank you for giving me this incredible opportunity- I could not be more grateful.
By Laura Slow


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