#69 Shovelbums Guide Part 9.2: Holiday Wish List

Here is the second installment of my Holiday Wish List for new and current archaeologists.  Enjoy.

Clipboard.  There are three different materials clipboards can be made of.  There are the simple wooden ones, simple and enclosed plastic types, and aluminum clip boards.  Companies usually have a few of the simple wooden ones available but for long term use they are less than adequate.  On surveys and on excavations a number of forms are needed and have to be stored.  A clip board that stores a few forms is of great use to any field archaeologist.

The plastic clipboards that have an interior storage compartment are far cheaper than aluminum ones.  They have their ups and downs, though.  The up side is that they are light, cheap, don't freeze in the winter and don't get scorching hot in the summer.  The down sides are that they are more fragile and can break easily.  A lot of people, however, prefer this type of clipboard.

The aluminum clipboard is my prefered type.  I have the side opening type.  There are two other types that I've seen in wide use.  They are the bottom opening and the type with a clipboard on the outside and storage beneath it (my wife prefers that one).  The aluminum clipboards are sturdy and will likely not break any time soon.  However, they can reach severely high temperatures in direct sunlight and freezing cold temperatures in the winter.  They will also leave black stains on your hands, as will most aluminum objects, such as pin flags.  That being said, I just prefer them.  They seem more permanent, more professional, and more sturdy.  To each his own, though.

Munsell Soil Color Book.  This item is for the serious archaeologist.  Munsell soil color books are used throughout the world in identifying soil colors using a standard definition.  I won't get into the problems with the Munsell book.  If you're an archaeologist you're aware of it.  Most of the time you only need a few pages from the Munsell book.  You can buy replacement pages which would be adequate for most people.  However, if you want the entire book it'll cost you.


Orange Vest.  Many archaeology projects take place on active construction sites or in areas that will soon be construction sites.  Orange vests are usually required in these areas.  Sometimes archaeologists, the smart ones, wear vests during hunting season to aviod getting mistaken for a homeless ungulate.  Often, a company will provide you with a vest.  The vest will likely smell pretty foul and not fit.  Having your own vest would be preferable.  Buy a lightweight vest with several pockets.  They'll come in handy.  You don't want a thick, warm vest.  Chances are you will wear the same vest all year round.  In the summer you'd want it to not be too warm.  In the winter you'd want it to be big enough to wear over multiple layers of cold weather gear.



Hard Hat.  Often, a hard hat is required at the same time a vest is.  You're required to wear a hard hat on all active mining sites so if you work in the west, prepare to wear a sweaty, ill-fitting, hard hat provided by your company or by the mine.  Hard hats can be purchased for $6-$80.  The cheap ones are usually just as good as the expensive ones.  Often, the only difference is style and color.  A good fitting hard hat can mean the difference to a miserable survey and a tolerable one.




Dental Picks.  These are used to remove hardened material from artifacts and to excavate delicate items in a solidified matrix, among other things.  Dental picks are the easiest gift to get for the archaeologist in your life.  Often, you can ask your dentist to hang on to the old ones for a while and they will.  Before I went to Africa several years ago I got about 50 of them from my dentists.  They were invaluable.  Dental picks are free and fragile so get a lot of them.  Of course, a field CRM archaeologist can go for an entire career and never need one so know the needs of your archaeologist friend.

If you can think of other items that archaeologists might want leave me a note in the comments.  This post is for you.  Make it better!  Give a link to this post to those that are buying presents for you so you can be assured that you get the appropriate gear for the holidays.

Have a safe winter and I'll see you in the field!