by Vaughn Gaston
Advanced Excavation Techniques: The Future Digger
(A Non-Intentionally Alliterative, Complimentary, Semi-Collaborative Continuation of Mr. Jones’ Previous Blog Entry)
Throughout the history of archaeology, evolved methods have allowed for increases in information acquisition and advancements in archaeological accuracy. We have total stations, digital databases, and chemically literate conservators. However, the lowly laborer attains no newfound skill, performing techniques that just might be as old as archaeology itself. Thankfully, that is all about to change.
Please be cautious in attempting any of the following presented techniques, as many of them require considerable balance, excellent physical coordination, and perhaps a couple of extra handfuls at nut break. Additionally, anyone with a history of cardiac illness, weak lung capacity, or lack of mental fortitude should refrain from the following, or consult a specialist before attempting to engage in any of the activities listed below.
The Flying Sherd:
The name is self-explanatory. An accurate sherd toss into a pottery bucket can save the time and energy one requires to constantly walk back and forth. Plastic buckets are recommended, not metal, in order to reduce impact, and possible sherd damage. Also, this technique should not be used with faunal material, as it is often far more fragile. Lastly, if one is especially concerned with the well-being of airborne material; the “alley-oop” method may be initiated.
The Reverse-Through-The-Legs Dustpan and/or Shovel Disposal:
Once again, the title of this technique is description enough. It is a technique found most useful in tight, awkward spaces, in which zembili placement options are adequate at best.
The Schliemann Shuffle or The Heinrich Hop:
It depends on the region: in Beotia it is referred to as The Schliemann Shuffle, and in Attica, The Heinrich Hop. To perform this technique, simply make a lateral two-step hop to move positions while digging with a pick. The technique is conducted in order to maximize picking efficiency, covering more ground without having to reach, therefore preventing possible muscular injuries.
The Foot-Flick and Catch:
The brilliance of this technique is due to its simplicity. By catching the shaft of ones’ hand-tool with the laces of the shoe, the fall is cushioned, the floor of the trench avoids being marked, and energy is not wasted by bending down to slowly place a tool. Furthermore, the opposite technique may be applied by sliding one’s foot under the shaft of a grounded hand-tool and lifting/flicking the foot; raising the tool in a quick but controlled motion. This technique not only maximizes labor efficiency in terms of speed, but also saves ones’ lumbar region from a possible chronic injury. Plus, it looks cool.
Shirts, Shorts, and Sherds:
Although this next technique is more indirectly related to excavating than the previous listed, a freshly washed, crisp garment can make a 5:00AM rise almost pleasant. However, it can be difficult to find time for doing laundry within the busy schedule of an archaeologist. And of course, properly cleaned archaeological materials are essential to any successful dig. So, this technique is quite straightforward: sherd washing and laundry at the same time.
The Stratigraphy Sommelier:
Few archaeological laborer grunts are savvy with the information one can gain if they are able to recognize things like soil changes, various stratified layers, material inclusions, etcetera. So, this technique allows for even a mindless pawn to notice a subtle, significant event that may occur in his or her trench. To excel at this technique, one need only to lick every bit of earth, rock, fauna, flora, and ceramic available in the surrounding environment, constantly. Eventually, one will acquire the skill to distinguish different types of stone based on their texture against the tongue, or even, taste a date.
Although it is safe to say that the field of archaeology will never be the same, the provided examples serve merely to scratch the surface of archaeological technique advancement. Lastly, It is important to note that many of these techniques may be combined in several ways with the groundbreaking tool technologies presented in Mr. Jones’ earlier blog entry.