The Tools of an Archaeologist

Archaeologists use many different tools in order to perform their digs! Here you will find some information about those tools.

Excavating Tools

A pickax or mattock is useful for loosening hard compressed soil and earth. Shovels and spades allow archaeologists to remove large portions of debris. Other items that are used in large clean up jobs could include hoes, wheelbarrows, rakes and miscellaneous garden tools.

Layout Equipment

Grids assist in descriptive data collection and recording. Fixing squares and string wrapped around one squared meter areas helps archaeologists keep track of where exactly their artifacts are located. Field maps are created with a survey level, compasses, auto levels, weighted measuring lines, spirit levels and spooled measures. Heavy bags of sand are placed around the perimeter of the baulk lines to secure the grid.

Fine Precision Tools

Small, precise surgical tools are used by archaeologists to use exact precision and accuracy when handling and excavating delicate, small artifacts and fossils. The standard toolbox contains one standard short trowel, various shaped trowels, a bob of lead or other heavy material to ensure baulk sides remain vertical, a soft mat for kneeling, measuring tape, paint brushes, calipers, gloves and rubber buckets. Depending on what items are expected to be excavated small tools such as dental picks, scalpels, magnifying glasses and small makeup brushes can also be used.

Recording Apparatus

It is critical for archaeologists to keep detailed recordings throughout the excavation process. Artifacts and architecture is often times drawn or captured with a camera. High resolution cameras, sturdy tripods, adequate lighting and a measurement board are all important components of recording an archaeological dig.

Health and First Aid Kit

Depending on the climate and environmental circumstances of the location being excavated, archaeologists will need to prepare for an array of conditions. Water for hydration, proper clothing, sun protection, insect repellent and first aid supplies are generally carried.

Specialist Paraphernalia

Depending on the specialty, archaeologists will use different specialized tools. For example, for the highly dangerous and challenging underwater archaeology, there are wet suits, oxygen tanks, visibility tools, underwater camera equipment and much more.