Sunday, December 02, 2007

As an Anthropology major I have lived my last two years in Kroeber. I have learned the locations of key classrooms. I have shopped around in the museum store during the ten minutes I have to walk to my next lecture or discussion section. Classes in the department have sent me to the Phoebe Hearst Museum countless times. During the last couple years I have even sat in on final review sessions in the lounge on the second floor. I have spent hours upon hours in the library. I have visited my professors. Like other Anthropology majors, I have made it part of my routine to visit Mary if only so that she can reassure me that I am on track.
But until this semester I had never had the need to go down to the basement of Kroeber. Now that I have spent so many hours in the laboratory, it amuses me to think back to those days when I thought that they were inhabited by artifact specialists. Now I regret not investigating these laboratories further. It has definitely been an experience to go in to the laboratory and handle the remains of the past. My experience has taught me that artifacts are treated with tremendous care. They are washed with care, dried naturally, identified, labeled, and bagged meticulously. With all the care that goes into the recovery and care of artifacts, you would think that specialized tools would be used. But that is not the case; we use worker gloves, picks, shovels, and trowels like various other manual workers. In the laboratory we use wash basins, trays, toothbrushes, nail polish, sharpies, scissors, and Ziploc bags. So it seems that in order to find the tools one needs to recover and maintain artifacts one only needs to know where to look.

Isabel Hernandez


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