This post comes from Tracey Cian, the finds office for the Origins of Doha and Qatar Project.
I suppose quite a few readers will be wondering what archaeologists do with the materials they find on an excavation.
My job is to collect all the finds brought back from site, remove the excess soil taken from the contexts where they were found, then sort them and catalogue them by material and finally store them in separate bags according to both context number and material.
Each bag of finds will have an individual number – recorded onto a finds register – and will be then split into what can be cleaned in the dig house and what needs special attention. Usually, the finds that can be cleaned in the dig house are pottery sherds and shells, whereas metal, glass and bone fragments will need to be observed and cleaned by specialists – such as conservators and bioarchaeologists – at a later date.
Once the finds have been processed, they will be collected and carefully stored inside boxes so that specialists can study them in the future.
It is very important to catalogue the finds according to context because, once the excavation season is over, the material specialists will be able to determine the dating stratigraphy of the finds and, therefore, of the site. For example, as a previous post on the blog mentioned, analysing the pottery will be valuable in order to date the excavated wall and other structures that have been unearthed because different typologies of pottery have been used for a certain amount of time and ceramic specialists are able to date them according to their characteristics. These characteristics will range from clay compositions to decoration motifs.
On the other hand, analysing the bones that have been recovered will determine what kind of diet the people of Fuwairit were following, e.g. whether they preferred eating fish or eating meat. Furthermore, some metal objects, despite being heavily corroded, revealed quite a few interesting finds, which will be properly cleaned and analysed in the near future.