What Certain Words Mean To Normal People vs. What They Mean To Archaeologists/Anthropologists

Inspired by similar posts on BuzzFeed, here are What Certain Words Mean To Normal People vs. What They Mean To Archaeologists/Anthropologists.

Clay

What It Means To Normal People: Something that comes from the earth, used for masks/creams/lotions or in pottery class.

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists (Maybe more archaeologists): That stuff that gets everywhere. Bane of our existence when it’s hard and packed in the ground. Of which it is a lot in San Diego. Excavating here can be a nightmare sometimes. Better bring your heavy bars.

Bathtub/Shower

What It Means To Normal People: Places to bathe in order to get clean or just relax and soak achy muscles.

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists: A place to soak achy muscles. Also: That place you go to wash off the dirt, clay, pollen, tree sap, pollution from the air, ash, spit from that random llama from the neighboring plot that the owner swore never spit, blood (stuff happens in the field and in the lab), the dust from several artifacts that may or may not have something deadly in it, pond/lake water gunk, and several more. Also: That thing we turn weird colors like dark grey , black, and mutant green.

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Trowel

What It Means To Normal People: A tool, usually with a wooden handle and metal body, squared off or triangular (usually), used for several things such as gardening, masonry, and other things, such as archaeology.

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists: Dig bag must. Best friend. That thing you manage to lose an alarming amount, usually at the bottom of a unit. That thing you need to sharpen a LOT if you work somewhere with compact dirt/clay. Or:

“F*** I FORGOT MY TROWEL WAS THERE AND I SLICED MY HAND OPEN!”

*sits down, freezes, gets back up, feels sting on butt* “Annnd I forgot my trowel was in my back pocket.”

Line Level

What It Means To Normal People: The thing you use to make sure the level for putting anything up, from shelves to fences, is straight and sturdy.

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists: That piece of s*** you lose every. Single. Season. At the bottom of a unit or in a bucket, or accidentally taken/stolen by someone else on the project.

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North

What It Means To Normal People: A direction pointing towards the Arctic/North Pole.

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists: The thing your unit mates/unit supervisors/everyone will argue about for  a solid hour before you set up unit boundaries because TRUE NORTH OR MAGNETIC NORTH?! LET US DISCUSS!

Dirt/Soil

What It Means To Normal People: The stuff on the ground. Used to make mud sometimes. To plant things. Can be bought. (Maybe more if you are a geologist.)

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists: The reason we had to buy a $150 book on colors. Key part of dating artifacts (To an extent.). Stratigraphic layers for days. The OTHER stuff that gets everywhere. Seriously. Just like clay/clay dust you will find it everywhere on your stuff and you, even in places you could swear there was NO WAY it could get there.

Rock

What It Means To Normal People: A solid mass made in the ground from sediments.

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists: It’s everywhere and everything. Seriously. Rock weapons. Rock scrapers/tool. Rock utensils. Rock bowls. All rock everything all the time.

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Beer/Alcohol

What It Means To Normal People: A beverage with alcoholic content which can make a person drunk if consumed quite a lot.

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists: Every afternoon after we get back from the field.

Backpack

What It Means To Normal People: A sack with two straps that holds your stuff when you are out and about, you carry it on your back.

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists: A sack with two straps that holds your stuff when you are out and about, you carry it on your back. ALSO: That place we hide the flask. (JK. Sorta.) The place we put allll our survey/excavation gear. Trowels, compasses, maps, pens, pencils, field book, knifes, rope, duct tape…wait what?

Personal Space

What It Means To Normal People: An invisible boundary many people have of which they wish others to respect and stay around due to personal reasons.

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists: That invisible boundary thing you sort of remember but of which got crushed the moment you started on your first away survey/excavation. Warning To Those Who Are Just Starting With Your Studies: You will know way too much about your colleagues by the end of your first away survey/ excavation. Have fun!

Shells

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“No, no comment. Donax me these questions.”

What It Means To Normal People:

1.Hard outer covering of an animal (Paraphrased from Merriam Webster.)

2. Outer layer of several ocean creatures, including clams, mussels, etc.

3. Ariel’s top.

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists: That stuff you will spend hours and hours and hours in the field and lab with, digging up, cleaning, doing MNI counts on, and speciating. You will eventually, against your will, develop a respect and grudging love of them, even if that love is super close to hate.

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Really just an excuse to plug this quote from Stardust. I LOVE that movie. And this quote. This is my favorite quote from the movie actually. Don’t judge me.

The History Channel

What It Means To Normal People: A channel on the television that shows programs such as Vikings, Roots, and Pawn Stars.

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists: The television channel that used to have programs that were actually just about history, like the title of the channel suggests, but then sold out to the peer pressure of reality TV shows and now has almost nothing that actually makes it a ‘history’ channel anymore. (Although admittedly Craig Ferguson’s new show, Join Or Die, looks pretty good. I wouldn’t mind checking that out.)

 

Gophers (Possibly US specific)

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What It Means To Normal People:

1.A small-ish rodent that burrows, found in Central and North America.

2. That rodent either your dog or cat will kill and leave on your doorstep as a ‘present’ and not understand when you either scream or toss it in the trash in disgust.

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists: The little demons from Hell that can completely wreck the stratification of a unit.

Rain

What It Means To Normal People: Water that falls from the sky.

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists:

  1. Water that falls from the sky.
  2. That wet stuff that can turn your unit into a little pond if you aren’t careful. (Let’s face it, even if you ARE careful sometimes.)
  3. The wet stuff that falls from the sky and ruins artifacts or other potentially important finds after or before discovery.

Excessive Heat

What It Means To Normal People: Abnormally high heat that lasts an excessive amount of time, often dangerous.

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists: Another Wednesday. (If you work in hot climates.)

Obsidian

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What It Means To Normal People: A very hard rock, glass like in smoothness and opaqueness. Usually black in color but can be found in other colors. Extremely sharp. Often used for surgical tools as the cut is so sharp, incisions heal faster.

What It Means To Archaeologists/Anthropologists:

  1. A very hard rock, glass like in smoothness and opaqueness. Usually black in color but can be found in other colors. Extremely sharp.
  2. That rock whose shards you always manage to cut yourself on when doing experimental archaeology and flint knapping.

“F***! S***! DAMMIT!”

“Did you cut yourself on an obsidian shard?”

“Yeah.”

“We got our first bleeder of the day!”

 

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