Friday, May 15, 2009

The Archaeologist's Tool Box: Patiche

In a blatant rip-off of my friend Casey, who has been entertaining readers with her series on "Squirrel Stuff I Own" and "Casey's Foods," I'm inaugurating a new posting theme revolving around the Archaeologist's Tool Box. As I pack to leave for Israel in a week, I'm coming upon all the random tools and equipment archaeologists use - almost never for their intended purpose.

The other reason is my high excitement at the newest addition to my assemblage. A patiche is unique in archaeology in so far as it is one of the few tools actually designed explicitly for archaeological use. The narrow pointy end of this handpick is useful for knocking away fine dirt from the edges of a rock or chunk of pottery (aka "articulating"), and the wide end is perfect for breaking up larger amounts of dirt and trimming balks (aka the dirt walls created by digging) to be nice and straight. The patiche has so many other uses, I can't even begin to describe or even think of them all. The trowel is often reputed to be the most indispensable tool to an archaeologist, but I find patichim more versatile and generally useful. I have a friend who claims he can perform any archaeological task with only a patiche - perhaps not optimally, or most efficiently, but certainly doable.
My particular, brand new patiche was a graduation present from Rhys that magically showed up on my doorstep this week! (Well, technically the UPS tag showed up stuck to my door, and I had to go pick up the package at the distribution center... but that doesn't sound nearly so romantic.) Apparently I had been hinting that I wanted him to get me one; I thought I was just talking. In the package was not only a patiche, but also a holster, so that I can have my patiche at the ready at all times, in the event of a dirt removal emergency. How handy!

In other news, I'm completely, officially done with all requirements for my Master's degree.


  1. I can already tell this blog series is going to rock.

  2. I love it too. I learned a new word. Also, Rhys is all about having the correct tool(s) at hand. Good choice Rhys. Even though I have no use for it, I kind of want one too.

  3. nice picture, did you take that when you guys were photographing weaving tools?

    also, how tightly does that holster hold? It looks like the strap could be a bit shorter.