Delaney and Matt – Pandemic Lab work

Amidst the pandemic, we (Delaney and Matt) have been hard at work in the lab. Due to concerns about the virus, we don’t have any student volunteers in the lab to process artifacts. Following MMDC guidelines has forced us to shift our focus in the lab to projects we can work on while practicing social distancing. Without student volunteers, we’ve been able to work on a variety of special projects in addition to our normal duties. Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to.


One of our most ambitious projects is creating a series of Esri StoryMaps in order to show the public the sites that the Center for Historic Preservation have been involved with. We are both experienced GIS users (Matt is a double major in Historic Preservation and Geography, and we’re both in the GIS certificate program). StoryMaps allows us to create engaging web displays using our GIS maps along with our other records. Similar to the Out of Sight, Out of Mind StoryMap that the city of Fredericksburg produced, these will showcase some of the sites the Center for Historic Preservation has worked on. These StoryMaps will be made available to the public soon, and Matt will be presenting on this work at the upcoming Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference, which will be held online in March 2021.

Delaney converted a hand-drawn site map into GIS polygons.

Site Record Scanning

In our lab we have records of every site that the Center for Historic Preservation has been involved in, stored in filing cabinets. Decades of excavation records, maps, reports, student papers, and even emails are all stored physically in the lab. We’ve been going through and scanning and sorting all these files, so that researchers studying these sites can easily request access to them.

There’s a lot of files

Cataloging the Lab Library

Our lab has a ton of books, articles, journals, and other research resources in our collection. Most of these are hidden away behind our white board so its easy to forget they’re there! One of our goals is to create a list of all of the resources in our collection that is easy to navigate and update on the computer. This will allow us to figure out what resources we might already have when tackling a new project as well as reorganize our library. Delaney and Matt have been working on recording each book in our collection and we’re almost done! Soon, we’ll have an updated sheet that’ll make using our library easier.

Books on books on books!


GIS has become an in-demand skill for archaeologists, and fortunately we are both proficient. Delaney is creating a tutorial on the GIS techniques we use in the lab, and we’ve both been working on GIS maps of our active sites. Hosting this GIS data allows us to easily understand the spatial relations of a site, and allows us to share our spatial data with other archaeologists.

Here’s a map showing which parts of a site the artifacts are concentrated around.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the archaeology lab has managed to remain productive during the pandemic. If you would like to learn more about archaeology, consider signing up for HISP 207 or volunteering in the archaeology lab (open in the near future!).

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