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VCU Archaeology

Another Side of Archaeology

By Ben Snyder

This was my first time interning at the Virtual Curation Lab. I had signed up for only one credit, which meant I’d only have to do 40 hours’ worth of work for the lab, coming out to about three hours a week. At the beginning of this semester I had just gotten done with a field school at Germanna, getting experience in how to do an archaeological excavation. Having become acquainted with working at the point of discovery, out in the dirt and sun, I was interested in getting to see another side of archaeology.

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A significant amount of my time was spent painting the various 3D printed models. Most of the time they were either bone (from animals, mostly) or projectile points and thus required fairly standard ways to paint them. Sometimes, however, I’d get tasked with slightly more unique jobs that’d require some creativity in choosing how to get it to look like its real life, non-virtual counterpart. Initially with these I was always nervous and wondering how I would not screw up horribly, but I was able to do a solid job on quite a few. Still, painting more detailed models – like some of the ceramics that got beautifully reproduced by others – is something I may need more practice to do.

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Other work involved labeling, sorting/organizing, and cataloging. While many would not see these kinds of menial and repetitive tasks as the most interesting part of archaeology, they’re a vital and necessary part to a discipline that involves hoarding quite a lot of objects. With this in mind I certainly consider it a gain to get more experience doing this kind of work.

I’m glad to have gotten the experiences I did overall at this lab, learning a little bit more about this new technology, getting to look at and handle so many different (3D replicas of) objects from such diverse backgrounds. However there were some things I never really explored. For instance, I never did much editing of the digital models. Thankfully, however, I’ve signed up to do another semester’s internship this spring and will get to dive deeper into this interesting world.

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