The Quiet Rush

The lights are on, but the office feels dark because the sky’s so overcast. It’s not raining, but that really doesn’t matter; the crew isn’t working today. It’s Friday and the crew works four ten-hour days, Monday through Thursday.

The lab techs have that schedul too, so they’re also not around. There are a couple of people from the natural resources side of the firm and one other archaeologist comes in for a few hours to work on a report. For the most part, though, I’m alone in the office.

This is my favorite time to be at work. There are few distractions and the schedule is relaxed and easy-going. I have a large list of duties that need to get done, so even a relaxed Friday keeps me busy.

The first order of business is also one of the most important. Timesheets. I sign, scan, and submit the timesheets for the hourly employees. I also enter the number of hours from those timesheets into a tracking spreadsheet. This allows me to keep track of both the budget and the workload.

After that, I respond to any emails that might be sitting in my inbox. There’s usually only one or two and they don’t usually take too long to address. I then fill out the rest of the morning by backing up the field cameras and field notebooks, as well as pulling newly-recorded data from the GPS unit and entering it into our project’s geodatabase. I’ve automated a lot of this last task, but I still look through the data to make sure that everything that needed to be recorded was and that the data looks accurate.

The afternoon is mostly spent looking at how the field teams are going and planning on where they’ll be for the following week. I work on getting the necessary land access permissions to the locations they’ll be working at, as well as submitting digger’s hotline locate requests for where the teams will go later in the week.

Finally, I look at the workload spreadsheet that shows how the field crews are going. I calculate the number of excavation units that they’ve excavated in the past week, the total over the year, the estimated remaining number of excavation units for the project, and the average number of units per week for this project. I write an email to the client that includes this spreadsheet and add a few paragraphs that discuss specifically what sites the field teams have been working on and where they’re planning on going next week. It’s kind of a boring topic, so I also try to add some color by discussing what the teams have been finding at these sites and any significance that those artifacts might have.

Some of the above duties are done on other days as well, but that’s my typical Friday. The above duties are more clerical than what you might think an archaeologist does, but it allows the field teams to do their job and also allows us to turn all of that fieldwork into a usable product.