What Do Archaeologists Wear?; Olmec Heads; Pedra Furada, Brazil.

What Do Archaeologists Wear?

Believe it or not, archaeologists do not dress like Indiana Jones – well, not many anyway!

The clothes worn by archaeologists need to be practical, able to get very dirty and wash easily, be suited to the environmental conditions the archaeologist is working in, and be hard wearing.

Cargo pants are ideal as they have many pockets in which to keep a trowel, tape measure, camera, photo scale etc. The are durable, lightweight and easy to clean. Trousers are the best clothing when excavating as archaeologists spend a lot of time on their knees, and the trousers protect them.

Excavating ©Sue Carter
©Sue Carter

A broad hat is ideal for keeping the sun off your head and the back of your neck, especially as you are constantly looking down! But any sort of hat that protects your head in all weathers is good.

Boots are worn when there is a lot of walking to do, as in a survey, or in wet and muddy conditions. Otherwise it is best to wear closed in comfortable shoes when excavating.

Australia ©Sue Carter
©Sue Carter

In hot climates it is important to make sure you cover your arms and legs. A tan is great but not when exposed to the hot sun for up to 10 hours a day! The clothes need to be breathable too.

In cold climates it is essential to wear lightweight, breathable clothes, in layers – you may start off cold but with all the work you do, you can warm up pretty quickly. Layering your clothes means you can adjust to your body’s temperature as the day goes by.


Archaeology Wow!! – Olmec Heads

The Olmec Civilization occupied mesoamerica and are a pre-Columbian people. They are beleived to have lived around 1200 – 400 BC and were referred to by the Aztecs as ‘rubber people’ as they supplied the rubber for the Aztec balls. They were also the first peoples to build large structures and there is evidence of their first writing in 650 BC.

Olmec Head ©AlejandroLinaresGarcia
Olmec Head

The Olmec heads were first discovered in the 19th century and in 1938 Mathew Stirling, an American archaeologist began studying the heads and the Olmec Culture. It was found that the heads were carved before 900 BC and that the stone they were made from, basalt, was transported from great distances.

Scale of Olmec Heads ©Wiki Commons
Scale of Olmec Heads
©Wiki Commons

Altogether 17 heads have been uncovered, and two have been re-carved into thrones. They all depict men with flat noses and eyes which are slightly crossed. The back of the heads are flat. The smallest of the heads weighs 6 tons and the largest one weighs between 40-50 tons.

The heads are beleived to have represented leaders or rulers of the Olmec people.Gives a whole new meaning to leaders being big-headed I guess!!


  • Grimbly. S. 2000. Encyclopedia of the Ancient World. Oxon: Taylor & Francis.
  • Milbrath. S. 1979. A Study of Olmec Sculptural Chronology, Issue 23. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks.
  • Olmec Head – ©AlejandroLinaresGarcia (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons



Archaeological Site Guide – Pedra Furada. Brazil

Pedra Furada is a collection of sites in Brazil which includes some amazing rock art. They were discovered in 1973 by Brazilian archaeologist Niède Guidon who spent over 20 years researching and uncovering the sites.

Pedra Furada III ©Diego Rego Monteiro
Pedra Furada III
©Diego Rego Monteiro

The sites are a collection of rock shelters which have been carbon-dated to 46,00 – 30,000 Bc and one has been calibrated to c.58,000 BC. Some of the rock art has been dated to between 9000 – 3000 BC. This is incredible as it pushed back the settlement of the America’s to before the Clovis Culture, which were beleived to have been the first human settlers in North America.

Pedra Furada Rock Engravings

Excavations at some of the sites produced three cultural phases of occupation

  • Pedra Furada – the oldest remains date to
  • Serra Talhada – 10,000 – 5,000 BC
  • Agreste – last phase

Within the phases were found artefacts which included a spear thrower, knives, flakes, cores, scrapers, and some retouched flakes. Some of the artefacts were made from quartz and quartzite.

Pedra Furada Site © Cleude
Pedra Furada Site
© Cleude

The Pedra Furada sites are truly amazing and show that history is sometimes not what we thought it was, with archaeology giving evidence!!


  • Dillehay. T. D. 2008. The Settlement of the Americas: A New Prehistory. New York: Basic Books.
  • Rudgley. R. 2000. The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age. Cammeray, NSW: Simon & Schuster.
  • Pedra Furada III – © By Diego Rego Monteiro (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Pedra Furada Site – © By Cleude (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.


Great Books to Read…….



Great Web Pages to Look At…….

Activity – Word Search 2 January 2015 docx

One Comment on “What Do Archaeologists Wear?; Olmec Heads; Pedra Furada, Brazil.

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