Tool Minutiae

It’s become a somewhat sad fact of life that I don’t sit still very well. In addition to the class that I’m helping teach two days a week, I started a second job working on a CRM project three days a week–the time that I’m really supposed to be working on my own research.

I couldn’t resist though, and it’s been gratifying to get my hands back in the dirt for pay. Like Jlowe (, I can’t really talk about it all that much, but I am digging burials and it’s been fascinating to see the politics and skill set involved.

It’s also introduced me to my new favorite tool: the Peach Pitter! A peach pitter is an elongated spoon with sharp edges and is just perfect for precision digging compacted clay. It also doubles as a regular spoon, so you can remove small amounts of dirt from tiny areas without too much trouble.

Also, to my horror, I’ve been using the WHS trowel more often. Marshalltowns cut through stratigraphy (which is important sometimes) but WHSs are blunt and you seem to be able to feel the dirt a bit better using them.

So, my toolkit for this job is:

Trusty rock axe
WHS trowel
Marshalltown pointer trowel (some undergraduate stole my square trowel)
Wooden sculpting tools
Sculpting tool with metal loop (for shaving off small amounts of dirt at one time)
Small paintbrush
Small whisk
Leaf trowel
Bamboo skewers
Peach pitter

This weekend I really want to find a puffer and maybe a couple more brushes.

Author: colleenmorgan

Dr. Colleen Morgan (ORCID 0000-0001-6907-5535) is the Lecturer in Digital Archaeology and Heritage in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. She conducts research on digital media and archaeology, with a special focus on embodiment, avatars, genetics and bioarchaeology. She is interested in building archaeological narratives with emerging technology, including photography, video, mobile and locative devices. Through archaeological making she explores past lifeways and our current understanding of heritage, especially regarding issues of authority, authenticity, and identity.

2 thoughts on “Tool Minutiae”

  1. I also like a grapefruit knife…seriated on both sides, slighthly curved…very good in similar circumstances to the peach pitter and good for getting around objects (when the bamboo is not required)…

    Of course, my favorite tool is a very sharp flat blade shovel….but maybe I’m a bit coarse.

  2. There’s nothing like a sharp, long-handled, square-nose, flat shovel. I could move earth in my sleep with one of those. They’re a little bit hard to find though, know a good source?

    Thanks for the tip on the grapefruit knife!

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