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Lab Activity - Winter

Lab work

What do archaeologists in the Upper Midwest do when temperatures plummet, the snow accumulates over frozen ground, and fieldwork is no longer feasible? One task is to pick through light fraction plant remains recovered from soil samples from the field. Tools like a small brush and tweezers come in handy for sorting through the light fraction under a microscope to find charred archaeological remains like corn kernels and sunflower seeds. Seeds, nutshell, squash rind, and any other plant remains found are recorded on a floral remains data sheet, transferred to glass vials for storage, and analyzed to study the plant resources people were using. For more information on light fraction and how archaeologists use a method called flotation to separate plant remains from soil samples, see MVAC’s Flotation: Step by Step video, especially the Follow-up section at 10:28.