Monday, 7 July 2014

London Archaeological Archives and Research Center

Museum of London Archaeology

Monday was our next class period.  We visited the London Archaeological Archives and Research Center (LAARC) to see how they archive and process artifacts, and to see their archive rooms.  The LAARC is the third building of the Museum of London group, and is mainly a storage area for the artifacts that will eventually end up being displayed in the Museum.  There are 10 kilometers of shelving in the building, and millions of individual artifacts being stored. There is a total of over 200,000 boxes which each will have 50-100 individual bits of archaeology within them.

The LAARC does not organize its artifacts by a certain system, but rather stores it by the year of the archaeology project. We walked through the storage area and the shelves just keep going and going.

What I found most interesting about the archaeology projects was that every time a new building is going to be erected in London, archaeologists are called in to excavate the area for any finds. They have to sample the soil and look for any artifacts in the area. It can cause the building process to take quite a bit longer, but the results can be truly fascinating. 

Our guide showed us a few artifacts to give us a glimpse into what might be found on an excavation. Many of the objects he showed us were very old and our guide told us that most of the time the archaeologists and archivists don't actually know the use for much of the things they find.  They can guess and interpret by looking at the time period and the things found with each object, but most interpretations are just that.  Our guide also told us how they can determine diet, wealth, culture, and industry just by examining bones. 

After he showed us some specific artifacts, our guide took us into a few storage rooms to show just how many objects they have stored in the LAARC. We had a peek inside the ceramics and pottery store room, as well as the toys and household store room. We were able to take pictures inside the ceramics and pottery room, as you will see below, but not in the toy room. 

Our guide definitely saved the best for last. The toy and house room was just amazing. They had one of what seemed liked every game ever made. We were able to see games and toys that we had when we were kids, as well as some that were much much older than all of us.  They also had household objects from historic and non-historic houses in the room, including toilets, sinks, televisions, and almost any other object you could think of related to a house.  The best object in the room was the old switchboard from Buckingham Palace. Here's a picture I found online:
Buckingham Palace Switchboard - Flickr

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