Tomorrow, I’m off to Kent to partake in an archaeological dig and for the past forty-eight hours I’ve been packing and preparing like a maniac. But, lo and behold, the packing list is nowhere near as cool as what you’d expect. We don’t have to pack a whip like Jones, or a pistol like Croft. These things aren’t even on the recommended lists given to us. Instead the reality is far more average.
Equipment is one of the most important things. You need to make sure you have everything you could need as, with the exception of Richard III’s grave, there isn’t going to be a supermarket you can just pop into for supplies. If you miss an essential, you’re in doom. The temple of doom. And you’ll be in big trouble.
You’re going to need bandages. Not because they’re useful for when you get a poison blow-dart shot at your neck (although they probably are) but because there’s a chance you’ll cut your toe off with a mattock. Probably equally as painful, but nowhere near as exciting. These are an essential part of any packing list, with a basic first aid kit for any cuts and bruises, though most of them will only come from the rocks you accidentally hit with your hand and not from sword-fighting with a mobster.
Along similar lines hand cream is one of my essential items, and often if I don’t make a reminder I don’t remember to pack it. Archaeology is manual labour almost all the times and your hands get used constantly. Hand cream, I promise, will save you from a lot of woes.
And while we’re still on the subject of pharmaceuticals, if you’re a woman I urge you to bring some feminine hygiene. Myself, and my sister, can firmly tell you that there is nothing worse than being stuck on a trip with nothing to help. Even if you’re nowhere near that time of month, take some anyway. Just to be safe.
You’re going to want to bring a tent. It’s really only in the movies that the archaeologist get luxury accommodation in a fancy hotel or prince’s palace, and tents aren’t provided for you. You’re lucky if you have the money for a caravan or a room, but generally, a four-man tent for one person is as far as luxury goes.
Also, if you’re going by car and not by public transport I urge you to pack your car with an air mattress, pillows and a duvet. You’re going to be pleased to have a little bit of home and comfort with you after the first couple of nights.
In your tent it’s going to be cold and, if you’re in Britain, it’s probably going to be wet too as it WILL rain and you WILL have to work in it. Pack appropriate clothes. I know, a cagoule is nowhere near as cool as Indiana Jones’ jacket, but you’re going to be grateful. You can have his hat though. You are working outside, after-all and you need to protect your head.
Also, make sure you have more appropriate clothes. I love fashion, and my wardrobe was not prepared for a week in the trenches. Yes, that means basic tee-shirts and shorts, not flashy ball-gowns or beaded dresses. Here’s to looking at you, Willie.
After that, you’ll want to pack a couple of books. Between the hours of six and midnight you’ll need to kill some time and you’ll be on a site with, most likely, zero wifi and nowhere to charge your tablet. Your survival skills will really kick in and, as a general rule, casual human sacrifices are frowned upon. I suggest you bring your favourite book so you don’t mind reading it a few times if need be, and one boring book for if you can’t sleep. Or, make it a community affair and bring ancient plays for your peers to perform.
You’re also going to want a notebook. Why? It’s not because you’re going to want to want to write down all of your epic adventures, but because you’ll want to remember the weather, your co-ordinates and more statistics, and the best way to remember is to write it down. You could write about your adventures, of course, but you will just be writing about how deep your trench is.
More miscellaneous items include loose change and money. Sometimes you need to buy a few things, a bus fare into the village or the fee for laundry and you’re going to want to pay using loose change. You don’t need to bring a gold-bar to bribe bandits with, and you don’t want to be the idiot who has to break in a twenty.
Lastly, you should probably bring some crockery and cutlery, unless the dig has specifically mentioned that they’ll supply it. There’s nothing more barbaric than having to tuck into monkey-skulls without the proper utensils. I’m joking. There are no monkey skulls, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure they’re hardy pieces, metal or plastic, so that they don’t break.
These are, perhaps, the bare-bone essentials of any archaeological dig and it’s any surprise, really that Indiana Jones actually managed for so long. Sure, it’s not as cool as anything he had, but at least you’ll be comfortable.
Note: Whips and pistols are optional.