What Is A Spoil Heap?; Earliest Stone Spears?; Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

What Is A Spoil Heap?

A spoil heap is the material that has been taken from a trench while it is being excavated. The dirt, soil, and rubble- all the waste material.

Where you place the spoil heap is very important. It cannot be too close to the trench that the soil starts to fall back in, or makes the wall of the trench collapse. So no closer than 1-2 m. Large excavations need someone to manage the spoil heap and ensure that not only does the soil get placed there properly, but also it is safe for the workers and is easy to access.

The spoil heap needs to be located where it is down wind – you do not want it blowing back into your trench or across the dig, as this can mess up the stratigraphy and interpretation. It also needs to be out of the line of photography, so when important photos are being taken the spoil heap cannot be seen.

Some digs hire a metal detectors to go over the spoil heap to see if there are any finds that have been missed by the diggers. At other sites, all the spoil coming out of the trenches is sieved. This is especially the case in America and Australia, where sites from colonial settlement have really small finds like pins, needles, gun shot, flint lock’s from guns and clay pipe pieces.

Spoil Heap ©Sue T Carter 2014
Spoil Heap
©Sue T Carter 2014


Archaeology Wow!!- ; Earliest Stone Spears?

Between 1992 – 1997 palaeoanthropologists Sileshi Semaw and John WK Harris excavated around 2,600 flakes, cores and waste flake material at the site of Gademotta in Ethiopia, Africa.

The tools were made from Obsidian, a volcanic glass found near the site. No human remains have been found them though, but the remains of animals were found at the site.

Stone Spears Analysis ©Daily Mail 2014
Stone Spears Analysis
©Daily Mail 2014

The spears have been dated to 280,000 years ago and this puts them in the time of Homo heidelbergensis, an archaic Homo sapien.

Homo heidelbergensis ©Wiki Commons
Homo heidelbergensis
©Wiki Commons

Homo heidelbergensis was a hominid that butchered animals and made tools for this job. The spears show that he had developed the intelligence to not only thrust and stab at animals, but had developed the spear for throwing from a distance. This also suggests that there may have been bigger populations living together that shared their ideas.


  • Campbell. B. G. 2009. Human Evolution: An Introduction to Man’s Adaptions. Jersey, USA: Transaction Publishers.
  • Fagan. B. M. 1998. People of the Earth: An Introduction to World Prehistory. Ninth Edition. Harlow, England: Longman.
  • Feder. K. L. 2007. The Past in Perspective: An Introduction to Human Prehistory. London: McGraw Hill.
  • Daily Mail – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2516257/The-worlds-oldest-javelins-Stone-spears-280-000-years-ago-provides-clue-humanity-evolved.html


Archaeological Site Guide – Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Angkor Wat, the Temple City, or City of Temples, is an archaeological site in Cambodia dating from the 9th – 15th centuries which has amazing Khmer architecture. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Angkor Wat Aerial ©Wiki Commons
Angkor Wat Aerial
©Wiki Commons

It was built on a former site by the Khmer king Suryavarman II and completed by king Jayavarman VII.  The site was the capital of the Khmer empire.

The site sits inside an artificial moat and covers 400m2.  There are large stone towers, temples and galleries. It has inner and outer enclosures and the walls are decorated in geometric forms.

Plan of Angkor Wat ©Wiki Commons
Plan of Angkor Wat
©Wiki Commons

The site was first a Buddhist temple but later converted to Hindu and dedicated to the God Vishnu. It represented Mount Meru, home of the divas in Hindu mythology and was the emperor’s  religious centre.

Facade of Angkor Wat ©Wiki Commons
Facade of Angkor Wat
©Wiki Commons

The site was noted in 1586 by a Portuguese priest, Antonio de Magdalena, but was not explored fully until 1860 when French explorer and scientist Henri Mouhot came across it. Local people told him it had always been there and it is not known why the site was abandoned.

An amazing place to visit and explore, Angkor Wat is a real Cambodian gem!


  • Behnke. A. 2008. Angkor Wat. Minneapolis, NM: Twenty-First Century Books.
  • Murray. T. 2007. Milestones in Archaeology: A Chronological Encyclopaedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
  •  Facade of Angkor Wat – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Facade_of_Angkor_Wat.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Facade_of_Angkor_Wat.jpg
  • Plan of Angkor Wat – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Angkor_Wat_M3.gif#mediaviewer/File:Angkor_Wat_M3.gif
  • Angkor Wat Aerial – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Angkor-Wat-from-the-air.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Angkor-Wat-from-the-air.JPG

Great Books to Read…….

Great Web Pages to Look At…….

 Activity –  

2 Comments on “What Is A Spoil Heap?; Earliest Stone Spears?; Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

  1. Pingback: What is an Open Area Excavation? – Basse Yutz Bronze Wine Flagons, Moselle, France – Hacilar, Turkey | The Young Archaeologist

  2. I am really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see
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