What’s in your dig bag, Yorke Rowan?

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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: Yorke Rowan
Position: Research Associate at The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
Digging since: 1984
Current Excavations:
Co-director of Galilee Prehistory Project (Marj Rabba), with Morag Kersel
Co-director of Eastern Badia Archaeological Project, Jordan, with Gary Rollefson

Yorke Rowan Dig Bag

(Left) Yorke Rowan at Marj Rabba, putting a sign on the fence posts at the end of the season. (Right) A gift from Rowan’s niece, a stuffed monkey hangs out on the field desk while the dig bag sits on the ground.

What hat do you wear?

I keep changing hats; one year I have a two dollar straw hat purchased at Damascus Gate, and another year I have a bucket hat. Baseball hats don’t cover your ears, a primary location for later skin cancers, so I tend not to wear them in the field.

What trowel do you use?

I use a 4 inch WHS trowel a colleague brought from the UK in the ‘90s. I still have my old Marshalltown around as a spare, but rarely use it because it is just too flexible.

What’s in your bag?

Water bottle: I always have at least a 1.5 liter bottle in the bag. In the eastern desert of Jordan, usually two.

Multitool: A Leatherman; the pliers are particularly handy.

Mini-emergency kit: a small medical bag with aspirin, band-aids, alcohol pads, gauze, and Neosporin.

Beat up dull knife: found on the ground years ago, this is useful for scraping off concretions and other hard materials.

Hand-held GPS: typically unused at Marj Rabba, but usefully for finding our way in Jordan, and for taking GPS position on a new structure or find.

Sun-block. Highest possible SPF!

Cameras: an older small Nikon, often another Canon camera to go aloft on a UAV. The real dig camera has its own bag.

Bandana: primarily to keep the sun off my neck (and usually there, on my neck, not in my bag!).

Compass: don’t really use it much, but it is still there and takes up little room.

Sunglasses: never leave home without them.

North arrow: I often have the North arrow in my pack, but it is Morag Kersel’s arrow. She won it as a prize in the Ethics Bowl.

Local Phone: A necessity to set up appointments, help visitors find our site, coordinate visiting lectures, ask why the port-a-john hasn’t been cleaned – important stuff like that. This doubles as my watch.

Spare pens, mechanical pencil, Sharpies.

Travel mug: attached to the outside of the bag. Keeps me in coffee for much of the morning.


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