Inventory, Databases, and Shell Analysis on the Beach
posted June 11th, 2011
As Graduate Research Assistant for Dr. Jonathan Haas (MacArthur Curator of the Americas) I am responsible for a variety of tasks including compiling research materials, editing presentations, creating a database of all of the radiocarbon dates analyzed in the Norte Chico, retrieving mail while he is away, sorting digital photographs, etc. In other words, I wear many hats.
For the next month I will be staying at the PANC field house in Barranca--a coastal town in the Fortaleza Valley of Peru. I am responsible for the consolidation and organization of the last 10 years worth of data that has been generated by PANC. These include photos, maps, artifact catalogs, pollen analyses, lithic studies, and many other types of analyses. These data are storied in a variety of data types (e.g. pdf, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets) and total well over 80 GB in hard drive space! I have begun tinkering with Microsoft Access and Filemaker Pro as suitable options to create a relational database for researchers to access the data by searching for particular proveniences. It is a gargantuan task, but with plenty of tea, time management, and a comfy pad for my chair, I am up to the challenge.
While working a 40 hour week I hope to begin my own dissertation research in my "spare time." I plan on excavating a possible Mito-style temple at the coastal site of Huaricanga. This particular temple form is defined by its single room structure with a two-level floor and a central hearth. Previously it was believed that Mito temples only existed in the highlands of Peru, but following excavations by PANC in 2007 we've begun to doubt this model. This month I hope to analyze all of the material from the 2007 investigations including the lithics, textiles, shell and botanics. I am currently completing the shell analysis and, believe me, it is NOT easy to differentiate a mussel from a clam! However, I plan on completing a laboratory analysis and write up that will not only become a chapter in my dissertation but also a chapter in Dr. Haas's upcoming monograph on the excavations in the Fortaleza Valley.