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Dartford & District Archaeological Group (DDAG)   -    Rediscovering Dartford - Page 39

17. Post Excavation Work
   One of the most time consuming aspects of the Groupís work takes place very much behind the scenes. During any excavation many finds come to light and each one then has to he made the subject of close examination, washing and perhaps other treatment. Each find is also marked with a code to confirm precisely from where it originally came.
   Some finds such as iron and bones are fragile and therefore require "first-aid". Initial treatment serves to arrest the process of decay. Other finds are so fragile that decay to some degree is inevitable. In those circumstances an x-ray is taken as well as a conventional photograph. The Group is fortunate to have close contact with the County Museum Service through Dartford Borough Museum and in this way it can ensure that objects receive the best and safest form of treatment in the course of conservation.
   Excavations dealing with sites from the Iron Age onwards yield in the most part finds which are predominantly of pottery in its many and varied forms. It is most unusual to discover complete pots. Normally one excavation will reveal hundreds perhaps thousands of individual fragments. Tentersí Hill Field Romano-British villa site alone produced over ten thousand pieces of pottery.
   A careful analysis of the pot sherds from any one site makes it possible to create a picture of domestic life at the time in question. It becomes possible to tell the difference for example between which pots were used in the kitchen area and which were tableware. It is also possible to take the researches further and to obtain a clearer view as to the pots made and traded locally and those coming from further afield. 

   During the Romano-British period (AD43-AD410) some areas producing pottery exported their wares over very wide areas. One such type of pottery was samian ware which was manufactured in the south, central and eastern areas of Gaul (now France). Other centres for the production of such pottery existed in this country and included Oxford, the Farnham area and Peterborough. Examples from all these production centres have been found on our sites
   As examination of the finds from any one site continues, it becomes possible to form a detailed picture of the lives of the people who lived and worked on the sites centuries ago. Other finds which can help considerably in this regard include fragments of bones. By looking at the bones themselves it is possible to determine the animal of origin and to ascertain its age at death and whether it might have been used for food or some other purpose. The bone might for example have come from a six month old lamb or from a three year old sheep. In the former case the lamb was probably slaughtered for food and in the latter the sheep was perhaps kept for its wool producing qualities.
   Just as questions arise as to the area in which the pottery discovered was originally manufactured, similar enquiries are caused by the discovery of some metal objects . Iron, bronze and Lead artifacts are commonly discovered and by tracing the areas in which such metals were mined or quarried, and later worked, further information is obtained as to trade and industry in these products.
   The study of finds and then sorting and cataloguing is an essential step on the way to publication of reports about our excavations. Although time consuming, these researches are in their own right fascinating, providing as they do an insight into the lives of the inhabitants of Dartford over the centuries.

Pottery Drawing at Research Centre

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