We will be living in a field camp for the duration of the field school's eight-week session. For some of you, this will be a new experience, and for most of you, this will be longest camping trip of your life. I have spent nearly four years of my life living in archaeological field camps and have narrowed down my list of field equipment to a set of key items. The list is not intended to be exhaustive, but will cover the basic things I will be bringing to the field this summer. Please note that items in the highlighted portion of the list ARE required.

  • Marshalltown brand masonry trowel (The brand is important, I think, and Marshalltown is the best get a size 5 or 6 diamond-shaped trowel.  These can be purchased at most hardware stores (e.g., Home Depot, ACE), just ask).
  • a metal file (get a "bastard file", yes, it's actually called that) for sharpening your metal trowel (just smile and ignore the hardware store help that tells you that sharpening a masonry trowel is crazy)
  • pencils, pens, eraser, small ruler, plastic protractor
  • wooden sculpting tool for excavating bone, shell, and other fragile items (or, you can just get a pair of wooden chopsticks, or sharpen a wooden dowel or hardwood stick to a point)
  • new (i.e., unused) small synthetic fiber paint brush (1" or 2" width)
  • a pair of work gloves (leather ones are better than the rubber covered cotton gloves)
  • a small case to carry your digging items

Things that will be provided

  • propane refrigerators
  • propane stoves and ovens
  • dish washing station
  • drinking water
  • restroom facilities
  • cooking utensils, pots, pans, etc.
  • garbage station

The Excavation Process: The Tools


  • tent
  • tarp for groundcloth (keeps tent dry and protects against sharp sticks, rocks)
  • tarp for rain cover on tent
  • cordage and bungee cords to secure tent and rain cover
  • sleeping bag and pillow
  • sleeping pad (foam, thermarest, etc.) or cot
  • small light for reading (headlamps work well)
  • small flashlight for walking at night
  • a paperback book or two
  • folding chair (I like the ones that have a drink holder in the arm rest)
  • plastic box with lid (Rubbermaid boxes work well-mark your box for clear identification among others when stacked on the truck)
  • 1 liter water bottle (Nalgene, or metal water bottle)
  • travel mug with lid (for coffee, tea)
  • folding pocket knife with useful items (e.g., blade, can opener, scissors)
  • sun screen (SPF 15-30)
  • lotion for dry skin and soothing sunburn
  • over the counter medicine for stomach and digestion problems
  • asprin or other over the counter pain killer
  • bathroom kit (shampoo, soap, washrag, toothbrush, toothpaste, small mirror, etc.)
  • ear plugs (sometimes, the snoring neighbor keeps me awake)
  • alarm clock
  • small backpack
  • small plastic boxes with lids for lunch (e.g., Tupperware type containers)
  • mess kit for meals: one each plate, bowl, fork, spoon, cup (fewer things to wash)
  • clothes line and clothes pins
  • Solar shower.  Bring a 5 gallon plastic bag-style solar shower for your own use.  We'll provide privacy shelters in which you will use your solar shower.


  • shorts and long pants
  • swim trunks
  • short sleeved and long sleeved shirts (I like the UV resistant thin cloth shirts designed for hot weather)
  • hooded sweatshirt
  • water sandals
  • rain jacket (you never know)
  • large brimmed hat (baseball hats don't prevent sunburn on ears and neck areas very well) and a baseball hat
  • bandana (all purpose use, especially good for covering scorched neck area)
  • I bring two or three shirts and a couple pairs of shorts/pants that will only be worn as work clothes (digging is dirty work, so I will wear these clothes throughout the week and change after work)
  • tennis shoes for working at the site (smooth soled shoes are best)
  • hiking boots (for, well, hiking)
  • sunglasses (I don't buy expensive ones, since they usually get trashed each summer)

For fun

  • frisbee
  • camera
  • running shoes
  • fishing pole (you'll have to get a fishing license)
  • snorkel and mask
  • geology hammer
  • GPS receiver

Things to leave at home

  • fireworks
  • drugs and drug paraphernalia (prescription medications okay with written doctor's note)
  • weapons (e.g., overly large knives, firearms (including handguns))
  • boom boxes
  • metal detectors
  • pets
  • t-shirts, hats, or other clothing with controversial/offensive messages