Winter 2004 class participants in CASA 103/203: Laboratory Methods in Archaeology

2004 is the second year that we have convened a laboratory methods course so that students can participate directly in Stanford’s research on the Market Street Chinatown collection. During our first week, we discussed the importance of laboratory studies in archaeological research and the history of the Market Street Chinatown collection. A Friday laboratory orientation introduced students to the cataloging procedures.

Teaching Assistant Bryn Williams demonstrating how to enter artifact catalog information into the project database

Now that we have been working with the Market Street Chinatown collection for a year, we have started to identify clear priorities for cataloging and research. This winter, we are going to focus our efforts on three features from the Market Street Chinatown: Feature 86-36:5, Feature 85-31:18, and Feature 85-31:20. We selected these features for two reasons. First, they are among the largest assemblages in the collection, and thus contain an abundant number of artifacts. This will eventually facilitate statistical analyses that could not be done on smaller segments of the collection. Second, we have found relatively strong excavation records for these three features, which will also support analysis and interpretation of the materials.

Featured Artifact

Chinese drinking bowls, decorated in the "Four Flowers" style. Left to right: #86-36:5-602; #85-31:2-10

On Friday, we used these two ceramic drinking bowls to teach the class participants how to use the project catalog system. Both are imported Chinese porcelains decorated with the “Four Flowers” motif. This beautiful decorative style uses multi-colored enamel to depict flowers representing each season. The larger drinking bowl (#85-31:2-10) would have probably been used to serve tea or broth. The smaller bowl (#86-36:5-602), which holds only about one tablespoon of liquid, was often used in drinking Ng-Ga-Py, a potent rice liquor.


  1. Nice to see the class going again. Your latest page refers to the small Chinese drinking cups, one for tea and one for “wine.” In our discussions with Chinese Americans it has been generally stated that the small “wine” cups were not generally used, the larger tea cups were normally used to drink wine, since the smaller cups “do not hold enough.” Most people apparently did not use the small cups.

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