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This blog is a behind the scenes look at the Roman Baths in Bath. We hope you enjoy reading our stories about life surrounding the Roman Baths.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

After the trenches are filled…

The Channel Four program Time Team has done wonders to raise the profile of archaeology in Britain. Thanks to Time Team many people now know what an archaeological excavation looks like; indeed some of us may have taken part in an excavation or two!
Excavation of the Sacred Spring 1979
But how many of us know what happens next? What happens after the trenches have been backfilled? How does the archaeology end up in a museum?

Well, it’s rather a long process between excavation and museum storage, excavation is merely the start of a process that often takes years to complete. Once the excavation stage is completed the artefacts have to be cleaned, conserved, analyzed, reported on, published and finally deposited into a museum.

The cleaning, conservation and analysis work of artefacts forms part of what is commonly called post excavation. During post excavation all the significant material is sent to specialists, whose jobs are to look at everything and write reports on what they find. This ranges from working out what an artefact is exactly, how old it is, where it came from and how it was used.

A mix of bone and stone objects
After the specialists have written their reports, and everything that is known about the archaeological site has been written down, all the information is brought together to form one final report. It’s very important that this final report is then published, but why is publishing it so important?

Excavation is a destructive process; once it’s been done you can’t press an undo button and put everything back! So it’s extremely important to publish your findings, even if you didn’t find anything, that way others can learn from it! If you don’t let people know what you found what’s the point of doing the excavation?

Once all the finds have been processed and a final report created the archive (artefacts and records) can be deposited into a museum for permanent storage. Why does everything go to a museum? Well if everything is in a museum, it makes it a lot easier for interested people to find it so they can study it.

So what does this mean for the Roman Baths Museum? Well the Baths happens to be the English Heritage approved repository for archaeological archives in Bath and North East Somerset; this means any archaeological work undertaken in the county will probably end up here.

East Bath Store
So if you are interested, why don’t you come on a tour of our storerooms and see all the archaeology that’s just waiting to be looked at?

Charlotte A

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