I Can Munsell That (Part 2)

Welcome everyone, it’s time for another edition of my personal favorite posting series, “I Can Munsell That.”  Today we have a special guest, Mr. Bonejangles!  Mr. Bonejangles, do you have anything to say to our wonderful audience?  Oh, I guess you can’t really talk without lips or a tongue or lungs or some form of Re-Animator fluid…  You know what Mr. Bonejangles, we’ll get to work on that as soon as this post is finished.

I don’t know if that’s what it’s called.  It’s a nutcracker that’s been sitting in this office for I don’t know how long.  It looks a little spooky, so I’m just going to assume he’d be a spooky bloke with some wise guy sense of humor, chattering his teeth at jokes or in between some skeletal pun.

As I’m sure you can see, Mr. Bonejangles is a very photogenic skeleton/nutcracker.  However, he does not fit well with a Munsell Soil Color Book.  His colors are a little too glossy to truly match so a few are as close as I could reasonably match.  Bonejangles has five main colors that seem relatively consistent throughout, though there may be some variance in shading, lighting, thickness of paint, or my eyes playing tricks on me.  Mr. B. has two shades of white that I matched closely with colors on the White Page (who would’ve guessed).  The white used for his skeleton minus the skull looked to be 9.5/N (white) and the white of his skull 8/N (white).  Then there is the shiny black which I matched closest on Gley 1 with 2.5/N (black).  I do think his color could be better matched, however I did not have access to a page devoted to the differences between dark black and slightly darker black.  Bonejangles also has these brilliant green highlights along his skull which matched almost perfectly (in my eye) with 10Y 6/4 (pale olive).  Finally, the final color that makes his spookiness pop, bright red eyes, which look like 10R 3/6 (dark red) or at least that’s the closest color I could find.  I admit his eyes are a bit too bright but I must work with what I have.

I would like to leave you on a side note, IUP Anthropology Department is hosting an Open House for International Archaeology Day on Oct. 20th from 12:00-3:00pm on the ground floor of McElhaney Hall.  We are displaying artifacts, faunal specimens, student research, flintknapping and atlatl demonstrations outside (weather permitting).  We hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

IUP Anthropology Department

I Can Munsell That?

By Zachary Fischer

Today I wanted to bring back an old favorite of the blog, the old field school game, Can You Munsell That?  At the beginning of the week, our cohort Janee brought in a few loaves of pumpkin bread that were just lovely.  As the week went on hungry grad students nibbled on the bread.  This left us with the final slice of a slightly crumbly, but still delicious, pumpkin bread.  So, as I was deciding on what to write, bringing up the Munsell idea, Janee joked that I could Munsell the bread.  I thought to myself, “You know what? I will.”

A chunk of pumpkin bread.

 

A well loved copy that has served its time in the department.

So what is this Munsell thing that I keep jabbering about?  I’ll give you a quick background.  The Munsell color system was produced by Dr. Albert H. Munsell (1858-1918) who was known as an artist and inventor. He created this system to provide a descriptive and systematic form to communicate color.  We as archaeologists, and archaeologists in training, use this system to describe the color of soil layers in a profile.  Normally, you take a sample, pack it down, and place it under the color chip on the chart.  Be careful to avoid touching the color chips as colors can fade and these books aren’t known to be cheap.  I would love to talk more about the Munsell system itself but I honestly don’t know all that much about it.  This was something of a refresher for me and a learning experience for myself and a few cohorts.

I attempted to do this alone, going from page to page, comparing the color of the bread and those in the charts.  Frankly, I couldn’t get a perfect match but had a thought on the closest color.  I was thinking something along the lines of 10YR 4/6 (dark yellowish brown), truthfully it is a bit more yellow than any of my pages show. Unsure, I did what all good social scientists should do and found new perspectives.  By found I mean left my office to see Janee and Heather who were nibbling away at their own lunches.  Both could see where I was coming from and partially agreed.  There was the suggestion of 7.5YR 5/8 and this interests me.  We may have this standard system but we do not all see the exact same shade or hue.  What I think belongs on 10YR, someone else might think goes on 7.5YR.  However, there is one piece I overlooked and that was the crust.  After consulting the physically closest cohorts, a few of us agree that it’s 10YR 3/6 (dark yellowish brown).  Again, I find it interesting that some colors we see may look the same or completely different.  This makes me wonder how effective the Munsell system will be in the future of archaeology but that’s a thought for another day.  Maybe if I get to do a Part 2 I’ll ramble on the topic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can learn more about the Munsell Color System at Munsell.com.

IUP Department of Anthropology