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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Archaeological Tools of the Trade

IMG_2030Petya and I are doing another weeklong archaeological field school, this time closer to home, yet still in the middle of nowhere.  So, we drive each day at dawn to the country, park, and take a shuttle to our remote site with porta-pots.  There is a stone farmhouse, fields, and streams nearby.

Although there’s a lot of advanced technology that is used in the field, there are numerous humble instruments employed.  The professionals prefer, for instance, mechanical pencils to IMG_2015the regular kind.  In their field notebooks, nothing is allowed that may smear or run at a later date.

Speaking of field notebooks, archival paper in various bound formats usually turns up.  The date, the weather, the co-workers, along with the excavation square and scientific site tag is noted, along with any to-scale sketches of features of interest.  Needless to say, a pro’s field notebook looks nothing like our haphazard notes of everything under the sun, lest we miss a detail or two.

Most of our work involved painful sifting of heavy buckets, carried up steep IMG_2033inclines, along with shoveling out the first layer in new excavation squares.  We were digging in a plow zone of a corn field, which the farmer delayed planting so that we could continue the past  explorations of the area, revealing a pallisaded (fenced) Native American settlement from the Woodland period.  The undulating ground with itsIMG_2057 furrows made it difficult to hike from one area to another, but hike we did.

Urged to “Stick to the Path!”, professors, students, retirees, and assorted others (guess that would be me), carried tools IMG_2061single-file from their drop-off point to the field site.  Which meant that you looked at a lot of people’s backsides all day long as we walked one behind the other.

And what were jammed in their back pockets?  Trowels, gloves, field notebooks, bottles of water, probably pop-up wheelbarrows and remote sensing equipment if they could fit it.  Naturally, by stuffing all of this stuff into clothing pockets and backpacks, must dust emanated from each person, following them like the cloud of dust enveloping Charlie Brown’s friend, Pigpen.

Let’s just put it this way:  many archaeological students do not wash their clothes at night, only to get them dirty the next day.  You have mud-caked IMG_2054cargoes and jeans, along with boots or sturdy tennis shoes in the same state of disarray.  The dust enters the backpack, the underwear, the inside of the hat, the fieldbook, the camera.

So, for your viewing pleasure, I photographed some of these archaeological tools of the trade.  Please, hold your applause, as we head back into the field again tomorrow….


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