Evolution of the Archaeological Toolkit

We did a big purge of the departmental field equipment over break as part of larger renovations going on in our teaching labs this year.  It was a fascinating example of how quickly the tools we use to do our work change (e.g. intro of digital cameras) and also how they stay the same (e.g. shovels, trowels).  We found an old transit, several beautiful old medium format cameras, ancient (well, 40-50 year old) soil testing kits with mysterious vials, etc., and various pieces of equipment that I didn’t even recognize.  Whoa, what is a rapidograph?  Apparently, drafting classes used to be part of the archaeology graduate curriculum in some programs?!


Lettering set for making figures? Comes with funny pen points.

I haven’t been an archaeologist for all that long and in that time the ways that we take photos and record spatial data has completely changed.  Only occasional sketch maps and no more film.   I am even thinking about giving ipads a try to speed up and improve data recording in the field, although I am nervous about how these electronics will hold up in the arctic weather (Matt had good luck though).   Also, one more thing that needs to be charged with our solar panel set up.  Hmmm.

Old transit

Old transit


Old medium format camera – would love to try this one out!

Patrick wrote an interesting post about the evolution of his field camp here.

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