Archaeological collection management is a subfield of archaeology that focuses on preserving, organizing and maintaining archaeological collections. I decided to take my first steps into the field of archaeological collections management by interning at The Gault School of Archaeological Research (GSAR). My internship with the GSAR lasted from June 2012 until May 2013.
Fauna is the category used to describe bone, enamel or shell artifacts. The GSAR fauna collection is comprised of over 500,000 fauna specimens that range from snail shells to a juvenile Mammoth mandible. These organic artifacts, or ecofacts, have a high risk of decomposition that begins the moment it is exposed to the elements. Therefore, to prevent further damage after excavation the fauna must be processed in the lab. Also, fauna need to be stored separately from other artifacts. However, storing a collection in two separate systems is difficult to maintain. For this reason, the fauna collection at the GSAR has greatly suffered from lack of attention. Fortunately, the fauna was kept protected well enough because there is no evidence of severe damage. Furthermore, given the large quantity of fauna specimens managing to keep an up-to-date inventory log has been difficult. The major effect of the lack of an inventory has led to some fauna to not be accounted for. After the reorganization and inventorying of the fauna collection, the chance of fauna being damaged would decrease and the knowledge of the over 500,000 fauna specimens should improve.
I was able to successfully reorganize the fauna collection and condensed the storage from five full drawer racks to four and a half. Also, the drawers were organized in lot numerical order and used to optimum and safe storage capacity. The extra room formed by the new condensed storage has provided room for the collection to grow as excavation continues. More importantly, the new organization of the collection has proven to be easily accessible and more protective from damaging effects.
The time I spent at GSAR has taught me many things about myself and archaeology. I learned that archaeological research is greatly affected by the accessibility of the collection. I also learned that if a collection is not properly cared for then the artifacts could be damaged and useless for future research. Most of all, the GSAR has helped me realize that I want a career in archaeological collections management. Therefore, after I graduate from my undergraduate college I will go on to achieve an MA in Museum Studies, MBA in Business Administration, and a Ph. D in Archaeology.