The objects that I’m examining at the moment, all from the Baker’s Flat site, are mainly metal. Before I start cataloguing and researching them, I clean them up a bit, but just a bit. Using a soft dry toothbrush, each artefact is brushed gently to remove any loose soil and dirt. It’s important not to brush too hard, to avoid damage. And when examining metal, water is on the banned list, so no washing.
Archaeologists have to work in all sorts of conditions, for example, having to use one’s elbow to stave off the attentions of an inquisitive west highland terrier.
The picture below shows a batch of artefacts that have been cleaned. They include an 8 ounce troy lead weight, a cupboard door handle, crayfish ornament, an old and rusty heel protector, two lead stamps, a pepper cellar lid, a spur, a mystery ball (which is not metal), and the bust of an unknown man.