5 Things You’re Likely to Get Interested in on an Archaeological Dig

On an archaeological dig, you often find yourself face to face with new things that you want to find out more about. Some of the things that I’ve found myself becoming interested in are:

1. Osteology/ Biological Archaeology

We find so many bones, or pieces of them, as we are going through material that it would be very interesting to know what we were looking at. To be able to tell the difference between a leg bone or an arm bone and from what animal that the bone likely came from would be a really cool thing to know.

2. Geology

It is hard to ignore the many “pretty stones” we find in our trenches. I would love to learn more about them and how to differentiate between their types. You can tell what a few of them are just by looking at them, such as sandstone, but others are much more difficult identify.

Rock For blog post
A pretty piece of geology that I think is sandstone


3. Numismatics

Occasionally, coins are found at Vindolanda. This is not unusual, but they are favorites for a reason. They’re totally relatable, easily identifiable and sometimes quite shiny. They also get even more interesting when you get into them. You can find out what the words around the edge of a coin mean, what the figures on the back are, and how the coins were made. They can then tell you a lot about the lives of the people who used them.

4. Historical Consolidation

At Vindolanda many of the buildings we excavate are preserved for visitors to see. In order to do this the buildings have to be made safe without changing them, so that visitors see them just as we found them. Jeff and Kenny do this work at Vindolanda.  They use a special type of mortar that can be removed relatively easily, but that is still very strong and durable, and sometimes they have to replace “rotten” stones. It would be interesting to learn more about this process and to be able to help them.

Historical consolodation
A beautiful wall and the replica towers

5. Entomology

There are a lot of bugs in the dirt! I would love to know about the creepy crawlies that share our trench. We see many different beetles, worms, and flying insects. When we are not being swarmed by biting midges it’s super interesting.



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