The Public Archaeology Lab has officially opened its doors! Staff from the Antiquities Section of the Utah Division of State History poured sweat, blood, and a few tears into polishing up former storage space and creating a functioning archaeological laboratory. During the grand opening, lab staff prepared mocktails for visitors from across the Department of Heritage and Arts, and they explained the lab’s function and vision for the future.
Currently, the Public Archaeology Lab is set up to process and analyze dendroarchaeological samples. Microscopic wood identification will aid archaeologists in positively identifying the kinds of wood used by Utahns across time. This minimally invasive process can aid researchers in understanding patterns in human mobility and resource distribution. The lab can also help researchers record and analyze dendrochronological (tree-ring) samples. Through dendrochronology, archaeologists can more accurately estimate the age of certain structures, or even reconstruct prehistoric environmental conditions. Lab staff are experienced in both of these analytical techniques and can help researchers process their samples.
The Public Archaeology Lab can grow as needed to accommodate the needs of not only Division staff, but local researchers as well. The equipment provided can handle most run-of-the-mill archaeological analyses from microscopic lithic use-wear analysis to limited ceramic petrography. The lab has additional space to grow into, as well as a fume-hood to maintain safe ventilation.
It’s said that for every hour of fieldwork, an archaeologist will spend four hours in the lab and office. While our staff may not get outside as much as we would like, we can make sure to handle our samples responsibly when we do!