What to Pack for Fieldwork

A very wise professor once told me that a good Archaeologist always remembers SHWA. What is SHWA you ask?





While this is not a comprehensive list of what you’ll need to bring into the field, it’s a great place to start! Even if you work in a generally rainy environment as I sometimes do in the Scottish Highlands, there are occasionally sunny days where you will regret not having some sort of protection from the sun. Make sure your hat is wide-brimmed so your neck also gets much needed protection from the rays. I cannot overstate the importance of WATER. Even if you don’t drink much on a regular basis, it is amazing how quickly you can become dehydrated after 8 hours of nonstop fieldwork. Dehydration is no joke and if you don’t prioritize your health and take regular water breaks, then you are a liability for the rest of the team. Attitude seems common sense but after several weeks of backbreaking work, it’s easy to lose your cool or to start grumbling. This is the best way to never get employed as an archaeologist. Archaeology is a very tight-knit community and networking is just as important as your academic credentials. If you are a team-player and are willing to work hard, you are helping yourself in the long-run. Also, no one wants to be stuck in the field with an asshole.

In addition to SHWA, here are some useful items you will want to pack:

  1. COMFORTABLE hiking shoes. You will be walking around a lot so do yourself a favour and bring shoes that won’t kill your feet. (Hint* Comfortable doesn’t always mean expensive).
  2. Waterproof jacket (and trousers for particularly rainy climates)
  3. Pencils and Pens
  4. Clipboard
  5. A USB drive (to back up data)
  6. Phone (make sure to turn of location settings as to not reveal the location of the dig site)
  7. Credit Card (not ATM card) and a small amount of Cash as some sites are pretty remote and you may need a little cash to buy snacks.
  8. Insect repellent
  9. Sunscreen
  10. Driver’s License (if you have one)
  11. Jumper (Sweatshirt for US readers)
  12.  Swimsuit
  13. Clothes for 1 week (don’t overpack if the site is remote as you will need to carry your belongings- check with your PI to ensure there are laundry services. Hint* Don’t forget socks- this is more common than you think!
  14. Sandals or Flip Flops
  15. First Aid Kit. It does not need to be big and bulky. Just include essentials such as gauze, bandaids (inc. butterfly bandaid), bacitracin or neosporin, tweezers, and small manual). You can check with your PI to see if they are bringing one but in my experience it comes in handy to have a small personal first aid kit.
  16. Compass or GPS (if you have)
  17. Notebook
  18. Swiss Army Knife
  19. E-tape (Electrical Tape). You’d be surprised how often this becomes an in-demand items

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