The Role of Augering in Archaeology

Archaeology is incredibly important to mankind.  By determining how mankind lived in the past it is possible to prevent problems in the future.  Archaeologists are also able to create a snapshot into what life was like for our ancestors.  This glimpse into the past makes it easier to determine how mankind has evolved over time.  It also helps economists learn about trade, scientists learn about medicine, and potentially could lead to new discoveries and inventions based upon old practices.  If for no other reason archaeologists allow mankind to better understand where everyone came from so that the difficult questions of life and evolution can be answered. 

One of the greatest challenges faces archaeologists is the discovery of locations that existed thousands of years ago.  Since many of these locations have been built over and buried over time they are rarely clearly visible to the naked eye.  This means that archaeologists must attempt to recreate a map of where ancient civilizations and people lived so that they can at least have a general idea of where to start looking.  Once a map is created and key spots are identified an archaeologist has to find a way to look within the ground for these ancient peoples. 

How augers are used in archaeology

With a lack of true technology that simply identifies the location of good dig sites archaeologists rely on a variety of tools that were never made specifically for the purpose of finding ancient peoples.  This means using metal detectors to find precious metals that may have been used by past civilizations but in many cases the earth is simply too deep to pick up a metal signature.  For this reason other methods need to be employed.  This is where augering comes into play. 

Augering is used to in order to pull out samples of the earth.  Since the auger can pull long cylinders of earth out of the ground with relative ease it is much easier than attempting to dig in numerous areas.  The auger also captures the many different layers as they occur in the ground allowing researchers to pinpoint how far down they would have to dig if something were found in the auger samples.  When the auger comes back from the ground the researchers are quick to examine it for evidences of human existence.  This could be pottery, weapons, clothing, or even human remains.  The goal is to quickly find areas that have the potential for human existence.

Once human existence is discovered the augers will be used to attempt to gauge how far the settlement area spans.  By doing this researchers are able to flag off an area for further excavation.  It will also allow them to better determine the scope of the permitting that will be required to dig up the area and do the excavation.  Since the augers will have allowed the researchers to get a better idea where the first remnants are going to appear they know how carefully they must dig and at what levels.  For example machinery may be used for excavation for the first few feet of digging but after that hand shovels would be required to preserve the remains as much as possible.

By using augering researchers are able to pinpoint with a little more accuracy where they are most likely to find remains.  It also helps them to avoid the costs of digging needlessly throughout an area without any potential for success.  Since many of the sites can be buried under several feet of dirt and grass it can be incredibly time consuming to manually dig deep enough to discover anything worthwhile.  The auger provides a faster remains of discovery while keeping soil levels intact as they exist within the ground proving a great instrument for researchers to know what depths they should expect to find discoveries. 

It is also important to note that in areas where vegetation is heavy augering is virtually the only method that an archaeologist could reasonably use to pull core samples.  Trying to get through heavy vegetation prior to digging would create such a time burden that financing digs would simply cost considerably more.  Through use of the auger digs are able to be done with a much smaller budget allowing for more archeologists to complete digs around the world with less money than needed to do so in the past.  This advance in archaeology has made it possible for the discovery of more variety and quantity than would have been discovered through traditional methods of hand shoveling areas.