Archaeology Field Kit Update

So I’m moving out of my storage unit in three hours, trying to finish a presentation for my department, and jet lagged beyond belief…why not blog? In light of John’s nice post about his broken trowel (psst, get a WHS next time) and Terry Brock’s love of kit nerdery, I thought I’d update a bit about the tools of the trade. Sorry for the bad photos–I was in a hurry to pack everything in England.

This past year in Qatar I made a few needed adjustments. My old field boots died after many years of service and I wanted a pair of boots that would last just as long as the last pair. It’s just wasteful to get disposable shoes that you have to replace all the time. On Michael Smith’s excellent advice, I bought a pair of Red Wing chukkas for the field. I have a pair of steel-toed work boots that I use on commercial sites, but the Red Wings are nice to wear in the desert and are okay for walking around in as well. There is a substantial downside though–they have to be regularly oiled and polished.  An added bonus for archaeology is that they have virtually no tread and so you can sneak in and out of a clean trench without leaving a trace. They still seem to have a decent amount of grip though–I was hiking on exposed rock ridges in the Rocky Mountains and they didn’t let me down. I bought a size too small and they’ve stretched out nicely.

While most archaeologists will tell you that it’s a good idea to wear sunscreen, I don’t really hear much about another piece of vital protection: a good “real” pair of sunglasses. I love cheap thrift store sunglasses, but they are actually a very bad idea if you are out in the sun for any length of time. While price is not always an indicator of how well the sunglasses will protect you, try to go for sunglasses that are made for skiing or snowboarding with 100% UV filter and polarizing lenses. These Von Zipper sunglasses have both of those and are “impact resistant”–they’ve fallen off my head many times and have endured a lot of general abuse. They were also big enough to serve as goggles during sandstorms–at least until I managed to get my real goggles on my head.

My old stationery bag was also on the way out. The zipper had started to rust and rip free of the metal mesh. I find that metal mesh bags work the best for stationery. You can see through them and the dirt just falls through. They are a bit of an oddity though–my last bag came with a package of pantyhose and my new bag on the right (given to me by my wonderful in-laws) had Body Shop shampoo in it. After all of this product placement I think I should get sponsored or something. Too bad I’m too lazy to set up affiliate links.

Sadly I left my trowel on the top of a wall in Qatar–the second one I’ve lost this year.  Nothing like showing up to excavations with a shiny new trowel to make you look like a noob. Oh well.

New Kit!


I’m always on the lookout for new additions to my archaeology kit bag, and I got these from 99 Ranch, a local Asian supermarket.  The ruler is particularly exciting, as it makes a great ratcheting noise when opening and has holes so you can mark precisely at each centimeter.  I did a lot of drawing this summer, but didn’t bring any of my own supplies so I was using the side of a plastic compass for a straight-edge, which was wholly unsatisfying.

And they’re pink with horrible pandas, which will surely bring groans from fellow archaeologists.  Yaaay! All of this for about $3.  Not bad.

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