Analyzing the Effects of Screening Methods on Artifact Collection at Kanaka Village during the Hudson’s Bay Company Occupation of Fort Vancouver
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Types and quantities of material evidence collected from archaeological sites are primary sources of information for archaeologists to base interpretations and provide evidence to answer posed research questions. Artifact collection rates depend on the collection and screening methods used. Screening methods that use smaller mesh screens tend to result in greater quantities of artifacts collected and greater quantities create increased opportunities for rare or underrepresented artifacts to be collected. This study used domestic materials, beads, ceramics and glass, collected during excavations in the Village area of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site during the 2013 Public Archaeology Field School. The benefits of wet screening using 1 mm mesh screens were examined in comparison with dry screening assemblages collected using a nested ¼ in. mesh screen inside of a 1/8in. mesh screen. Measures for artifact density supported the hypothesis that wet screening did produce greater densities of the domestic materials examined. However, multiple diversity indices did not support the hypothesis that wet screening samples would be more diverse than samples collected using dry screening. Overall, the evidence supports the use of small mesh screening methods when applicable to the proposed research question.