Being attached at the NUS lab for the archaeology attachment first hand let me learn and understand what an archaeologist in Singapore does. Unfortunately, our attachment begun after a dig at the national art gallery and so we did not have a chance to witness how an excavation was carried out. So when our attachment begun, the archaeology team was already starting on the follow up, or the lab work and thus we helped out with washing in the first couple of weeks, followed by a bit of sorting. From this experience I learnt how the simple artefacts that we worked with actually play a part in shaping Singapore’s history. Apart from that, the biggest skill I learnt was actually how to sort the artefacts, based on its material, decoration, texture etc.
While washing, the people at work chat and get to know each other better because washing is relatively simple, yet it is a long process especially with the number of units dug out. I cannot say that the washing of artefacts is the extremely interesting, and so chit-chatting to pass time, made the task a bit more meaningful, getting to know the people working in the same team as you.
I think in such an attachment, patience is the most important trait to do well and enjoy work. Archaeology is a long and tedious process and it would take months of sorting and compiling data to get any idea of what the artefacts could even possibly mean. Teamwork and communication is also immensely important whether in the washing or sorting phase because it is essential not to mix up which each tag belongs to which series of artefacts as this can mess up the data analysis and interpretation later on.