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The tools an archaeologist uses during the progress of an excavation vary, and include everything from a garden trowel to a computer database. This photo essay, called The Tools of the Trade, illustrates many of the tools used by modern archaeologists working in cultural resource management (CRM) projects in the midwestern United States.

Thanks to reader Trevor F. for the suggestion. Photographs of field and laboratory equipment were taken at the Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist, to whom I am deeply grateful.


October 2, 2008 at 1:23 pm
(1) jasdeep says:

How do you dig so far?
What tool do you use?

October 4, 2008 at 8:41 am
(2) Kris Hirst says:

Sometimes excavations are conducted with heavy equipment, like a backhoe or belly-scraper (a road grader), and sometimes we do it by hand. It just depends on what’s above the deposit and whether that needs to be preserved.


February 9, 2009 at 3:21 pm
(3) Shifra says:

Hey, I’m 13, and I need to do an archaeology project for school, can you give me some tips?

February 10, 2009 at 12:16 pm
(4) Kris Hirst says:

Hi Shilfra:

I have four science fair project ideas that might work:

Science Fair projects in Archaeology

March 12, 2009 at 8:57 am
(5) Jessica Lynn Scahefer says:

Hi I’m 13 years and I attend Sells Middle School in Dublin Ohio. I am doing a project in science where I have to pick a science career. I have chosen an archaeologist as my career. In seminar we have to ask 10 questions to a person who actually is a archaeologist.
1. What do dream of finding in the dirt?
2. What is your favorite thing you have found on one of your excavations?
3. Who or what inspired you inspired you to become an archaeologist.
4. What college did you go to, to get your degree?
5. At what age did you pursue your archaeological dream?
6. Do you recommend this job?
7. Where have you traveled to excavate?
8. Is this job dangerous?
9. Do you excavate in a group or alone?
10. Do you enjoy being an archaeologist?
Just reply as soon as possible. It’s part of my grade! Thanks!

March 13, 2009 at 9:00 am
(6) Kris Hirst says:

Here is a page with most of your questions answered:


Good luck with your project!

March 13, 2009 at 9:02 am
(7) jessica lynn schaefer says:


March 17, 2009 at 5:21 pm
(8) patrick says:

Hi Iím doing a project for school and I need to ask an archaeologist so i need to ask these questions. thank you and please try to respond
1. Is the job interesting?
2. What is your favorite part of the job?
3. Do you have a specialty (or special area of interest)?
4. Do you spend time teaching, working at a university, or in the field?
5. If you have worked in the field, have you been to different places for excavations?
6. During an excavation, is there anything in particular you would like to find?
7. Have you ever found something amazing?
8. When do you use technology in the job?
9. Do you work alone or in a group?
10. What is the most important thing that you have learned from being an archaeologist?

March 20, 2009 at 11:35 am
(9) Kris Hirst says:

You, too, Patrick, should see my list of “frequently asked questions” here:


August 15, 2009 at 2:41 am
(10) Tony Galladas says:

can you please give me three archeologist findings in the twentieth century and why they are all different from each other

October 12, 2009 at 5:25 pm
(11) archeology girl says:

what kinds of tools: buckets, transit, tags, trowels, string, shovels, kneeling pads, a scoop, plastic tubs, cameras, north scales, bags, chaining pins, files, flags, rulers, writing utinsels, screens, tarps, tires, tool kits, line levels, paint brush, picks, probes, wheelbarrows, whisk brooms, and wire brushes. but whatis used for breaking up hard ground and soil?????????

January 29, 2010 at 3:58 pm
(12) Steve says:

Im just about to graduate from my community college. I was wondering if you have any colleges that you would recommend that have that have great archaeological programs for a bachelors degree? Also, do you know of any feild work that is relatively inexpensive that I can volunteer for? Thanks

February 13, 2010 at 11:11 pm
(13) Meg says:

hey, am writing a essay on archaeologist, i was just wanting to know what are some of the tools you use when digging.

February 24, 2010 at 8:51 am
(14) Arvind L Sha says:

Hi.. I am giving a seminar on the topic Mechanical engineering in Archaeological activities. Can you please help me by telling me about the latest development in the field mentioned above.

March 3, 2010 at 4:14 am
(15) lisa says:

what do archaeologists use? asin tools.

March 5, 2010 at 7:48 am
(16) Kris Hirst says:

This blog post links to a photo essay describing the tools that archaeologists use: Archaeology Tools of the Trade.

August 18, 2010 at 11:58 am
(17) ashley says:


October 6, 2011 at 6:50 pm
(18) Rosalina Verado says:

I am doing this rsearch for my social studies class in school and i need some facts. Can you help me?

October 15, 2011 at 2:54 am
(19) Myron Collaco says:

I am 7 years old, i have a project for school, can u tell me what tools does an archaeologist use for his job and also do you have to wear any uniform during your work of digging.

December 13, 2012 at 11:16 am
(20) kbugg says:

where do you go to school to learn that stuff????

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