Introduction and Use of the Common Tools Used in Archaeological Excavation

Many cultural relics or heritages of human civilization have been hidden under ground over time. Archaeologists from different countries of the world are still struggling to discover these hidden cultural relics or heritages to rebuild and reach the final conclusions of the history. To discover these hidden cultural relics or heritages in a particular method, Archaeological excavation and exploration work is being conducted by Archaeologists. During the conduction of this archeological excavation and exploration work, some tools are used at the field level. In this article, the introduction and use of these tools is discussed in detail.

1. Directional Compass : At the beginning of the archaeological excavation work, a lay-out of the selected archaeological site or mound is to do. It is necessary to determine the direction of the archaeological site during its lay-out plan. It can be easily done with directional compass. Analog and Digital compasses of different brands and models are available in the current market.

Compass, image source: Pinterest.

2. GPS Machine : At the beginning of the archaeological excavation work, it is needed to know the location (geocoordinate) of the selected archaeological site and also needed to prepare the site plan and contour map of the site. To do these works in digital system, the GPS machine is used. GPS machines of different brands and models are available in the current market.

GPS Machine, image source: Pinterest.

3. GPR Machine : At the beginning of the archaeological excavation work, it is tried to know the location of the architectural relics and the artefacts under the surface of the selected archaeological site in the recent time. For this purpose, a modern tool namely GPR machine is used in the selected archaeological site. Scanning with this machine, a locational map of the architectural relics and the artefacts which interred within 2-3 meters from the surface. Observing this map later, archaeological finds can be explored by the archaeological excavation work very easily. GPR machines are available in the current market but very costly.

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GPR Machine, image source: geophysical.com

4. Leveling Machine : During the archaeological excavation work, Leveling machine is used to determine the elemental measurement and the altitude of  the selected archaeological site. Using the altitude values determined by leveling machine, a contour map for the site can be easily prepared. Apart from this, the level of the different layers and the architectural relics explored in the site are also determined by the machine during excavation. leveling machines of different brands and models are available in the current market.

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Leveling machine, image source: twinshardware.co.ke

5. Camera : During the archaeological excavation work, Camera as an important tool is used to capture still images of each work of each day, and the immovable and movable objects uncovered in the excavation field. Apart from this, camera is also used to capture video of the important work and objects in the archaeological excavation field. Cameras of different brands and models are available in the current market.

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Camera, image source: walmartimages.com

6. Measuring Tape : During the archaeological excavation work, measuring tape is used to measure different immovable and movable objects uncovered and different measurements in the excavation field per day.  And the measuring tape of different sizes are needed to do this. In the current market,  Measuring Tapes of different brands and models made of the steel and the plastic are available.

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Measuring Tape, image source: www-konga-com-res.cloudinary.com

7. Wooden Peg : At the beginning of the archaeological excavation work, the selected archaeological site or mound has to be made a plan by arranging layout in several grids. And to do this, Pegs are needed. Pegs are also used for other multiples works including various design drawings. According to the needs of the work, these pegs of different sizes have to be made from wood.

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Wooden Peg, image source: assets.jewson.co.uk

8. Spade : During the archaeological excavation work, Spade is used in different purposes in the excavation field. Spade is mainly used to dress the surface of the excavation field, and to excavate and load the earth into the basket during the excavation. In the market, spades of different sizes are available. However, as per the needs of the work, iron spades of different sizes are made.

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Spade, image source: 5.imimg.com

9. Small Hand Pick : During the archaeological excavation work, small hand pick beside Spade is used in the excavation field. This small pick looking like a spade is mainly used to dress the inner profile of the trench excavated during the excavation. Small hand picks can also be used in other works related to the excavation. In the market, hand picks of different sizes are available. However, as per the needs of the work, iron hand picks of different sizes are made.

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Small Hand Pick, image source: amazon.com

10. Large Hand Pick : During the archaeological excavation work, Large hand pick beside Spade is used in the excavation field. This pick is mainly used to loose the earth in every trench or grid during the excavation. Large hand picks can also be used in other works related to the excavation. In the market, this pick is available. However, as per the needs of the work, iron picks of different sizes are made.

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Large Hand Pick, image source: amazon.com

11. Shovel : During the archaeological excavation work, shovel as one of the necessary tools is used in the excavation field. Using the shovel, earth (soil) is loaded from the trench into the basket or wheelbarrow and the inner profile of the trench is dressed. Shovel can also be used in other works related to the excavation. In the market, this shovel is available. However, as per the needs of the work, shovel of different sizes are made.

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Shovel, image source: cdn.shopify.com

12. Trowel : During the archaeological excavation work, trowel as one of the necessary tools is used in the excavation field. Using the trowel, the works like the observation of the uncovered contexts or strata, cleaning, sampling are done. Trowel can also be used in other works related to the excavation. In the market, this trowel is available. However, as per the needs of the work, trowel of different sizes are made.

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Trowel, image source: ebayimg.com

13. Soil Carrying Wheelbarrow, Baskets ‍and Trays : During the archaeological excavation work, Soil Carrying Wheelbarrow, Bamboo Baskets ‍and Iron Trays are used  to carry the earth (soil) from the trench to the other place. These tools can also be used in other works related to the excavation. In the market, these tools of different sizes and shapes are available. However, as per the needs of the work, these tools are made.

Wheelbarrow Png, Transparent Png - kindpng
Wheelbarrow, image source: kindpng.com

14. Soil Color Chart : One of the essential ingredients of archaeological excavation is Soil Color Chart. During the excavation, this color chart is used to determine the soil color of the uncovered contexts or strata in the trench. The soil color determined from the uncovered contexts or strata is used to analysis data or stratify different strata during the report preparation on archaeological excavation. 

Munsell Soil Color Charts Book
Soil Color Chart, image source: torso.de

15. Scale : Scale is an essential tool of the archaeological excavation. Using scales of various shapes during the excavation, the movable and movable objects explored in the excavation trench are measured and drawn.

Triangular Architect Scale Ruler, 12" | ARTEZA
Scale, image source: arteza.com

16. Twine : During the archaeological excavation, the thick-thin twine is used as an essential element to bind in different types of bindings. The twine of the high quality and different brands is available in the current market.

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Twine, image source: imimg.com

17. Knife : During archaeological excavation, knives of different types as an essential element are used for cutting. Knives of different brands and sizes are available in the current market.

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18. Directional Arrow : By placing the directional arrow on or beside the objects or layers, photographs are captured during archaeological excavation. Directing the arrow to north, the photographs are usually captured. In this way, photographs with the directional arrow help a reporter to analyze and describe in a report after archaeological excavation.

North Arrow 23cm
Directional Arrow, image source: cdn3.volusion.com

19. Antique Baskets and Bags : During the archaeological excavation, ancient artefacts from different archaeological layers are exposed. Bamboo or plastic baskets / crates are used to carry, clean and preserve these artefacts. At present, Baskets of many sizes and high quality are available in the market.

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Crates, image source: exportersindia.com

20. Sample Bag : During archaeological excavation, paper or plastic and cloth’s bags are used to carry and preserve samples and artefacts exposed from different layers. Currently, there are multiple bags with grip seal bags of different brands and sizes in the market.

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Grip Seal Bags, image source: amazon.com

21. Foil Paper : During the archaeological excavation, foil paper is used to preserve and carry samples collected from different layers. Currently, the high quality foil paper of different brands is available in the market.

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Foil Paper, image source: labtexbd.com

22. Documentation Form : During the archaeological excavation, the documentation form is used as an essential element to write with illustration about layers or context and architectural relics exposed in the trench. It is better to prepare this form conveniently.

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Documentation Form, image source: archaeologydataservice.ac.uk

23. Field Notebook : During the archaeological excavation, the field notebook is used as an essential element to write with illustration about artefacts, layers or context and architectural relics exposed in the trench and also excavation site history. Currently, notebook of different types is available in the market. It is better to prepare this field notebook conveniently.

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Field Note, image source: opensourcegeomicro.files.wordpress.com

24. Graph Sheet : During the archaeological excavation, the graph sheet is used as an essential element to draw artefacts, layers or context and architectural relics exposed in the trench. In the current market, graph sheet in different scales (inches / cm.) is available .

Documentation - Process of Archaeology | UW-La Crosse
Graph Sheet, image source: uwlax.edu

25. Clipboard : During the archaeological excavation, the clip board is used to write down on the documentation form, field notebook and graph sheet keeping on it. Currently, clipboards of different brands are available in the market.

Storage Clipboard with Calculator - Orange S-20583O - Uline
Clipboard, image source: uline.com

26. Pen : During the archaeological excavation, pen is used to write down on the documentation form, field notebook and graph sheet. Currently, pens of different brands are available in the market.

27 Pencil : During the archaeological excavation, pencil is also used to write and draw the features on the documentation form, field notebook and graph sheet. Currently, pencils of different brands are available in the market.

28. Marker Pen : During the archaeological excavation, marker pen is used to write down on sample begs and baskets carrying samples and artefacts. Apart from this, marker pen is also used in the works related to the excavation. Currently, marker pens of different brands are available in the market.

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Pen, Pencil and Marker Pen, image source: freepik.com

29. Identification Tag : During the archaeological excavation, sample and artefacts uncovered from different layers and trenches are kept in foil papers, different sample bags, common bags and baskets, and identification tags are added with them. So that it can easily be identified any sample and any artefact during hand over and take over including report writing.

Artifact Identification Tags | TALAS
Identification Tag, image source: talasonline.com

30. Geometry Box : During the archaeological excavation, various geometric tools including small scale, set square, compass etc. are used to draw artefacts, layers or context and architectural relics in the documentation form and graph sheet. So geometric box including various geometric tools are used as one of the essential elements in archaeological excavation.

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Geometry Box, image source: amazon.com

31. Bag Pack : During the archaeological excavation, Bag Pack for the excavation team members is needed to carry their necessary things namely pen, pencils, notebooks, geometry boxes, identification tags, samples bags, knives, trowel, graph sheet etc.

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Bag Pack, image source: alicdn.com

Beside these above mentioned tools, Computer (desktop / laptop), Ladder, Potter Gauge, Masking Tapes, Magnifying Glass including different types of accessories, chairs, tables etc. are needed during archaeological excavation. However, a Field Director with his necessary tools according to his experienced knowledge starts an archaeological excavation at the field level. [Md. Shahin Alam]


Introduction and Use of the Common Tools Used in Archaeological Excavation


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