July 07, 2010

Archaeological Fun in the Sun: Wet Screening

It’s finally a beautiful sunny Seattle summer day and what better way to spend your time if you’re an archaeologist working at a natural history museum than conducting an outdoor “wet screening.” Wet screening is a process used by archaeologists to separate archaeological material, such as bone, shells, or stone tools, from dirt and other non-archaeological sediment. This is what a wet screening station can look like:

This afternoon, the Burke archaeology team set up a wet screening station outside the museum in order to begin processing material excavated by the Burke’s director (herself an archaeologist) Dr. Julie Stein at English Camp on San Juan Island in the early 1990s. The material has been housed at a National Park Service repository since then and is being processed now and will be held-in-trust at the Burke Museum and made available to researchers who wish to analyze it in the future.

The wet screening will occur throughout the next few weeks, so if you’re wandering outside by the museum in the next few weeks, look for our archaeologists!