Cataloging the Market Street Collection – Spring 2011

Meghan cataloging a Bamboo bowl.

Hello, my name is Meghan Gewerth, and I am one of the interns currently working on the project. I am a sophomore archaeology student here at Stanford. My interest in archaeology lays in museums and collections, but I have done fieldwork in Chavin de Huantar, Peru and am going to be participating in the Binchester, England field school this summer. I have not had a lot of experience in historical archaeology, but have enjoyed working with the Market Street collection.

A teapot lid

I began working with a box of miscellaneous objects – those that had been removed from their original boxes and sorted by the original archaeologists. I ended up working with ceramics from the collection, specifically porcelain tableware from 86-36. These artifacts are important because they are more useful in dating than some of the other artifacts from the collection. I have cataloged a few bamboo bowls, double happiness bowls, four-season decorated bowls, and some exciting teapots and teasets. These include decanters, teapots, teapot lids, and teacups (the ones I’ve been working on are very small teacups)! We found a set of artifacts that we couldn’t identify at first, but then later figured out were lids to teapots. They were unusual in that only part of the underside was glazed, and residue was left on them. We have also come across a few types of decorations that haven’t been encountered yet, something that is always exciting.

Featured Artifact

Our mystery object!

This is a ceramic piece whose function is still unknown. It is a flat oval object with a raised lip around the edge. It also has perforations going through the object and a central hole. What is very unusual about it is that although the two parts clearly mend and are part of the same object, they came from two different features, Feature 5 and Feature 17. Our best guess is that this piece may have been a soap dish or possible a strainer; however, research has not yet unveiled any clues as to the function of this piece.

Public Archaeology at History San Jose

One of the mock excavation units developed by History San Jose for visitors.

This past Sunday, May 15, we participated in a special celebration at History San Jose. This kick-off event for the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Chinese American Museum is the first of several events to come in 2011. Big thanks to all the Stanford students who volunteered at the all-day event!




Stanford PhD student Tim Wilcox helps one of the visitors screen soil for artifacts.

Despite the unseasonal rain, wind, and hail, there were several intrepid young archaeologists who joined us in a mock excavation, including a screening station and artifact reconstruction. Using unprovenienced artifacts from the Market Street Chinatown, visitors were able to re-discover pieces of San Jose’s Chinese immigrant history.



Lion dance by members of the Asian Cultural Dance Troupe, with fan dancers in the background.

The Chinese American Museum was open to visitors with docents from Chinese Historical and Cultural Project. We were also joined by the Asian Cultural Dance Troupe of San Jose who brought historic lion dances and fan dances to life.

Working with Project Records

Hello, I am Megan Kane, a research assistant working with the Market Street Chinatown collection.

After a long break, the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project is ready for a website update! My name is Megan Kane, and I am a research assistant working with the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project. I first started working with the MSCAP collection four years ago. At the time, I was in awe of the Market Street Chinatown collection and the sophisticated questions that archaeologists could ask of a historical site. Well, that awe never left and now I am working in historical archaeology. I am constantly amazed by the Market Street Chinatown collection and the potential it holds for further research, and that potential has never been more apparent than right now.



Have a look at our beautifully organized file cabinet and the wealth of documentation that we have for the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project!

Over the last several months, I have been working with the documentation from the original excavations and analysis at Market Street Chinatown. Up to now, the documents were stored in boxes in no particular order. Starting last December I began working with the documents, organizing them, scanning them and analyzing them. I created a database just for the Market Street documents that includes a PDF of each one, so we can search and read documents right from the computer without having to handle the originals. All of that is great, but the really exciting thing to come out of this project is the new understanding of just how much information we do have about the original excavations! Far more information has been preserved about the original excavations than any of us ever imagined. This is tremendously exciting as we plan further research with the collection. We will be able to address far more sophisticated questions about the Market Street Chinatown now that we can analyze the artifact assemblage in conjunction with the documents. Stay tuned as we explore this very exciting collection!


Featured Artifact

A true workhorse of the lab! This batch scanner has allowed me to digitize and organize all of the documents related to the Market Street excavations.

Our artifact for the week is a little unusual, but this object has made my life so much easier over the last several months as I have scanned and analyzed documents that it is worth highlighting. Meet our batch scanner! This scanner will take a stack of 50 pages and turn them into a PDF automatically. It has allowed me to scan thousands of pages of field records, lab records and reports and to make them available electronically. It has revolutionized the way that we work with the documents and with the collection. As we plow ahead with our analysis of the Market Street Chinatown archaeology collection, we will owe many thanks to this machine.