A Trowels Divides Us

Posted on June 15, 2011


For the most part archaeology practiced in one part of the world is the same as archaeology in another part of the world. Yes, of course there are differences though for the most part these are small differences. Most of the time curiosity and mutual respect for the differences is what occurs, except with trowels.

If you want to start a fight among a group of international archaeologists it is not processual vs. post-processual it’s trowel vs. trowel. In the US the defacto king of trowels is the Marshalltown but in the UK it is the WHS. I remember during my fieldschool everyone who did not have a Marshalltown received a shellacking of non-stop ridicule. At excavations in the UK I have received non-stop bashing on my Marshalltown trowel.

I personally prefer the Marshalltown for sandy soils but the WHS is nice for clay soils. Though for civing hard soils I have a Kohl trowel that is ridiculously heavy and sturdy, perfect for breaking up large chunks of hard dirt. I am not sure I have a preferred trowel.

This view is limited to just the UK-US so if you are from another part of the world what is your experience with trowels? Does your country have a special type of trowel you use?

If your from the UK-US what are your opinions?