Tansy Digs


Tansy is a very experienced archaeologist, and spent a good chunk of her summer on an archaeological project with her favourite photographer. She demonstrated excellent knowledge and ability of the tools and techniques of the job. Here she is sitting in the quarter-inch mesh screen prior to sifting the backdirt…


…and here she is screening the dirt in the eighth-inch screen. Her co-corkers appreciated her keen eye and small hands, and she was responsible for spotting several important artifacts, like this large quartz crystal flake.

Backdirt pile

This is the backdirt pile – all sifted through, and ready to be shoveled back into the pit when the digging is finished.

North Arrow

Here Tansy demonstrates two other pieces of important equipment. A colour chart is always used to record layers, and was essential this summer since the smoky air made the daylight appear very yellow. The black and white squares at one side of this little chart also act as a measuring key.

And the ubiquitous archaeologists trowel – did you know that in a prepared documentary photograph, the trowel acts as a North Arrow?

Level and Depth

More important recording stuff – the pink line has a plumb bob on it to make sure the side walls of the excavation are straight.   “Plumb” is from the word “lead” in Latin, which is also where the word plumber comes from.

The line level also helps with straightening vertical and horizontal planes, and the tape measure also helps get accurate readings.

Edge boards

The graduated edge boards are useful for rough measurements, and also protect the pit sides and edges from crumbling as the archaeologists get in and out of the deepening pit and.

The tin bucket is for lifting dirt out, for sitting on while deep in the pit, and for standing on to get out when the pit is between the “step” out” stage and the “ladder climbing” stage.



How straight is that! Tansy was proud to help with digging this beautiful pit!


Tansy kept track of the bags – each containing a significant artifact, labeled in the field with location coordinates.  She also kept track of the radio listening out for the second field crew, not far away, but not visible either in the dense forest.



Both crews reunited in the evenings, and Tansy was gratified that the camp equipment included chairs with doll-holders!


16 thoughts on “Tansy Digs

  1. I loved reading about Tansy’s summer project. I learned several new things about archeology, wonderful! What a fascinating adventure, thank you for sharing it with us.

  2. It’s like being part of it! I for one had never been on an archeological excursion!!! Thank you Tansy for sharing this adventure. You are quite the little teacher!!!!

  3. It’s quite obvious that Tansy was a key figure in this past summer’s archaeological dig. She’s a top notch co-worker and appears to have a no nonsense attitude about her. Thank you for the step by step narrative today….so interesting.

  4. I just loved this post…as someone who was ‘going to be an archaeologist when I grew up’ child, who never fulfilled that goal, this is just a brilliant post indeed. Thank you, I found it fascinating. Love Tansy’s chair – we have one of these as well.

  5. What a great and informative story. Tansy should teach a class…she would make a wonderful teacher. Her class would be filled up with eager student’s ready to learn from her and hoping that some field trips would be included in the curriculum. I would love to attend!!!!!

    • Tansy has never been on an Archaeology Field School, but the students do tend to have fun and learn lots!! Let us know if you ever make it to the west coast of Canada, we’ll see what we can do to show you some of the fun. Meanwhile here is a link for a video of this year’s Field School on the other side of Vancouver Island from where Tansy was digging, taught by one of her friends:

  6. Goodness what a wonderful education into some of the intricacies of a “dig” ..I always enjoy seeing Tansy in action attired in her practical “dig” clothing. Happy to see her in the field!

    • Tansy loves dressing in practical clothing…it is sometimes hard to get her out of it at the end of a project! We are glad you enjoyed the blog post today – stay tuned for more Archaeology!

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