What do archaeologists find?
Karuna, aged 19, asked:
Can you list all of the objects that archaeologists may find?
Julian Richards answered:
Probably not as it would be a very, very long list! Basically if it has been made then we should be able to find it given the right preservation conditions in the ground. So things like stone and pottery and glass generally survive well, but of the metals only gold comes out of the ground looking like it did when it was buried. Other metals like copper and iron will corrode and may disappear completely in acid soils. It's the same with bone which survives well in chalk (alkaline) but is eaten away by some clays or sands (acidic).
As far as organic remains like wood or leather and textiles, then these will only survive in waterlogged soils or in peat where there are 'anaerobic' conditions in which the things that cause decay can't operate. The exception is when things are burnt, so charcoal (burnt wood) generally survives well. I have actually held a charred 1,000 year old Anglo-Saxon bread roll which was found in Suffolk in the remains of a burnt down house!
My personal finds list goes from A for alembic (medieval pottery distilling vessel) to Y for Y-shaped tool (a small Neolithic flint axe). I have not yet found a buried Zebra!
Check out the images on this page from YAC's friends at Wessex Archaeology. These are examples of some of the objects that archaeologists may find, as discovered by Wessex Archaeology's archaeologists during their many and varied excavations. You can find out more about what the team at Wessex Archaeology have been up to on their brilliant blog.
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