In our “What’s in your dig bag?” series, we asked working field archaeologists what they carry with them out in the field. We wanted to know what gear they love and what items might be unique to them.
Name: Jeff Blakely
Position: Department of Classics and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of Wisconsin- Madison
Digging Since: 1971
Current excavation: Hesi Regional Project
REI Explorer Hat. Similar to this version, but mine is older and has no vents.
Marshalltown Trowel with a wooden handle. I use a 5″ on a mud-brick site like Hesi, but a 4 ½” at a site with more stone.
Ingalls Archaeological Company Hand Pick, Expedition Size: These were designed by Larry Ingalls after his experience at Hesi in 1971, the best digging tool for me. It stays sharp and is light.
Munsell Soil Color Book: If you do not know why, I cannot explain it here.
Staedtler Tradition HB pencils: Staedtler Mars Plastic Erasers, and a sharpener. In the field I check and annotate sections, plans, locus lists, and locus sheets. It is a good pencil for sketching.
Sun glasses: polarized, heavily green tinted, and reflective (or mirror) lenses. In my youth when I used clip-ons I found that brown tinted and grey tinted clip-ons greatly impacted seeing colors between the soil and the Munsell Soil Color Book. With the dark green tint I do not have problems comparing colors, although I do check without my glasses on, too.
US Pennies: A roll of brand new, current year, US pennies. When we bottom out a excavation unit I put a few pennies around the corners and center of the square before we backfill. That way in 20, 200, oryears when someone goes back to re-excavate the site they will find something telling them they are in one of our units.
An old Swiss Army Knife to cut things and to open a beer after a long day in the field.
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