The Colorado Coalfield War Project conducted seven years of excavations at the Ludlow Tent Colony and Berwind sites.  Click here to read more about the project.

A variety of archaeological methods were used at the Ludlow Tent Colony and Berwind sites.  This page includes brief summaries of each of these methods.

Historical Archaeology
The term ‘historical archaeology’ describes the archaeology of the period from about AD 1500 through the present.  It is generally considered the study of archeological sites that were formed during the time of written history.  Historical archaeologists make use of primary source documents such as photographs, land deeds, and oral accounts in their research of archeological sites.  

Surface Survey
Archaeologists use surface survey to determine the location of the site, the size and shape of the site, and to map exposed features of the site for potential excavation and testing.  Surface survey is often conducted by field walking or pedestrian survey, which entails a group of people walking in a line making note of any features or artifacts that are visible on the surface of the site.

Photographic Overlay
Photographic overlay is a technique used in historical archaeology to determine the location of features at a site.  A historical photograph is used in conjunction with a photograph of the archaeological site.  The photographs are merged in order for archaeologists to locate buildings and other features of interest.  

In the case of the Ludlow Tent Colony site, photographic overlay was used to determine the layout of the tent colony.  Archaeologists used this information about the layout of the colony, in part, to determine where to place their excavation units.  

Ground Penetrating Radar
Ground Penetrative Radar, or GPR, is a non-invasive geophysical method for determining what is underground at a site.  An antenna, which emits high-frequency radar pulses, is moved across the site on a grid and records buried features or soil anomalies.  These features are then mapped and used to determine the location of buried materials at a site.  

For more information on GPR:

Metal Detection
Metal detectors are particularly useful on historical archaeological sites where there are an abundance of metal artifacts present.  They help determine the locations of features and other areas of interest on a site.  

Magnetometer                                                                                                                                                     Magnetometers measure variations in soil magnetism and help archaeologists locate buried features at a site.  They are particularly helpful when burned material is present.  Researchers used a magnetometer (a Proton Procession Magnetometer) to find buried features at the Ludlow Tent Colony site, and it helped them locate two tent cellars and one pit feature.  

Archaeologists sample certain areas of a site to determine information about what is underground.  Sampling is conducted in order to cause as little damage to the site as possible.  Archeologists cut trenches and use hand augers and shovels to sample parts of a site they might want to excavate in the future.  

Excavation is the actual removal of physical objects from the ground.  Excavation units are placed in areas of interest to the researchers.  Excavation only occurs in response to specific research questions produced by archaeologists.  Each object is carefully excavated and archaeologists record the information about that object by site number, locus, unit, feature, stratum, and level.

Lab Methods
Lab work is a crucial component of any archaeological excavation.  Artifacts are washed or dry brushed and bagged for cataloguing and analysis.  

In the case of the Ludlow and Berwind sites, the artifacts produced from the excavations were identified and entered into a database.  

To view the complete catalog (Microsoft Excel file) of excavated materials from the Ludlow Tent Colony Site, click here.

For more information about some of the terms used in the catalog, click here

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