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We are in the process of cataloguing artifacts that were excavated from Washington’s whiskey distillery. An archaeological catalogue has two main purposes: 1) to identify, classify, and record attributes of all materials collected from an excavation and 2) to serve as the primary collections management tool. The catalogue should identify and help to organize material from an archaeological site and aid in the successful curation, or long-term storage, of a collection.
The distillery assemblage is currently housed in approximately 420 boxes. These boxes are filled with washed and labeled artifacts. Additionally, the boxes also contain soil, pollen, and phytolith samples, 1/16” water screen artifacts, and light fraction artifacts from flotation. This is not all of the distillery collection, however. Because the distillery was a large building and we excavated more than 75% of the site, we have lots of architectural material (such as rocks and brick) that are too big for boxes. We also have some wooden fence posts and other building-related wooden artifacts that are currently undergoing conservation.
The primary distillery excavation spanned 56-10x10’ units. Every artifact we catalogue gets a record entered into Re:discovery, our cataloguing database. An archaeological site’s collection includes not only the artifacts and various samples, but also the paper and digital records of the actual excavation itself. We have boxes of photographs, files of digital images, and paper excavation records. These records include maps and provenience cards (which record aspects of each layer that was excavated). We enter provenience cards into our database and have so far entered cards from 31 of the 56 units. There are 887 layers currently in the system.
The distillery assemblage is dominated by architectural material (i.e. brick, mortar, sandstone), but there are also domestic and distilling-related artifacts. Below are some highlights of the collection that we have catalogued this far.