The Samples: Entry form is for entering new sample numbers into the database. Samples will also appear in the Excavation form, but not until after they are entered here. You should not enter a sample into the database until you have collected a physical sample. While you can change the data in a sample entry if there are necessary changes, you cannot delete a sample entry yourself; rather, you must request that it is deleted in the back end of the database, in which case the number will need to be reused so that there are no gaps. When opening a new context in the field there are some samples that one can assume will be created, including: hand selected ceramics, hand selected bone, sieved ceramics, sieved bone, and a flotation sample. While it is often helpful to write tags for all of these samples when you open a new context, you should be wary of creating entries for them in the database until you have collected physical artifacts that are part of each of these samples.
Also be aware that if a context is open for more than one day, samples will most likely be created simultaneously by people working in the field and in the lab. Therefore, do not assume that the next sample number is available before you have entered a sample into the database, and make sure that the sample number written on the tag and the sample number in the database are the same.
How to Enter a New Sample in the Field #
- First, make sure you are in the correct excavation area and context. You should only need to check the excavation area at the beginning of the day, but note that when you open the Samples: Entry form for the first time, or if you refresh the entire form, it will return to the first context of the first area.
- Advance to the last entry by clicking the “bar and arrow” button at the top of the form. Then, advance to an empty record by clicking the single forward arrow button. The form will be mostly blank.
- Specify the Material:
- Material refers to the overarching material category of the artifact. Most categories for Material are self-explanatory: “Ceramic” refers to ceramics, “Metal” is for metal objects. However, some materials require more specific data.
- “Organic” encompasses all organic material, including bones, shells, and charcoal. For organic materials, select “Organic” for the material, and then select the appropriate label in the Specific Material field.
- You may also need to specify a Category:
- “Soil” generally requires that a Category be included. Most often, the sediment samples you collect are for flotation, and “Flotation” should be selected under Category. You should also specify the Category if you take a sample for sediment chemistry (“Chemistry”).
- “Stone” materials should also have a Category indicated, to specify whether they are “Lithics” (that is, knapped or flaked stone) or “Grinding Stones.”
- For most objects, it is preferable not to indicate a Category. Do not feel that you need to guess whether a metal object is a “Tool” or “Jewelry”; this will be determined in the lab.
- At this point, you also need to specify the Recovery Type. In the field, Recovery Type will always be either “Hand Selected” or “Sieved.”
- Once the Material, Category, and Recovery Type are entered, click Assign Next Sample to create the entry and generate a sample number. Again, if the context has been open for more than one day, it is likely that samples will be created in the lab simultaneously, so you cannot know for sure which sample number has been assigned to an entry until you click this button.
- After assigning the sample number, you should also indicate who recovered the sample and when. In the “Analysis” box in the lower right-hand corner of the form, enter the name of the excavator, “Recovery,” and the current date.
- Finally, there is some other information that is not required, but which you may want to include.
- There is a box for Sample Description; it is not necessary to include anything here unless the object is particularly interesting or identifiable. If a sample is a single artifact that can be easily described (e.g., a metal wire, a spindle whorl, etc.), it can be a good idea to include a brief description in case the object is somehow separated from its tag.
- You may also wish to put in an Analysis Request. If you need a specialist to look at or identify a sample, please indicate so in this box rather than just telling the specialist in person or over Google Chat.
- Before you leave the field, you should check all the samples you collected in the field against the samples in the database in order to make sure that nothing is missing.