Love it or hate it, it’s that time of year again when you start thinking about what to get the archaeology-lover in your life. Wondering how to pick the right present for someone who loves the past? Worried about how you’re going to satisfy their underground tastes this Christmas?
Then wonder no more because, whether they’re an aspiring amateur or professional mud-lubber, we’ve pulled together yet another perfect list of totally desirable gifts for anyone who digs prehistory.
1. The stocking filler
Dumb cuneiform £14 Got something to say? Say it cuneiform. This is perfect for the archaeology-lover who uses Twitter more than a trowel. Send your 140-character message to the guys at DumbCuneiform and they will carefully transcribe your most ephemeral communications onto a clay tablet that’ll endure forever.
2. The exotic foreign trowel
Bellota Trowel 5902, £12 An archaeologist’s trowel is their most prized possession, and most will feel strongly about whether they prefer the springy American Marshalltown, or the sturdy British WHS. But what about the Bellota? We recently discovered this brand when we were digging in Spain, and we’ve got the feeling they might trump the lot.
3. The toolbox trophy
Spirit-level pen £19.95 Oh my god, have you seen this? James Bond’s pen might shoot darts, but if you had to pick a pen for Indiana Jones, this is the one. It comes with a built-in spirit level, three-way ruler and a screwdriver. And for the ones who use iPads at work, it’s even got a stylus. Seriously, if you’ve got a fieldworking archaeologist in your life, they need this.
4. The tea-lover
Munsell soil colour chart mug £7.50 From multi-purpose tools, to multi-purpose mugs, this is another fieldwork essential. Spot check your soil colours, or use it to make sure your trenchmates know just how you take your tea. Now there’s no excuse for an unsatisfactory brew. Ours is a 7.5YR 7/8 thanks very much.
5. The cushion-hugger
Plush archaeology kit, £17 As winter approaches and we start to get a bit sad about spending spend less time on site, what better way to comfort yourself than to snuggle up with a cuddly trowel and your favourite Time Team box set. It brings a whole new meaning to ‘armchair archaeologist’.
Edit: We’ve just been informed these are actually for toddlers. Nevermind, get some for the sofa anyway.
6. The foodie
Prehistoric pottery replicas, £25 If the recipes from our own Archaeologist’s Cookbook aren’t enough to satisfy your archaeology-lover’s hunger for all things ancient, try one of these. Graham Taylor is an expert potter and experimental archaeologist. His wares are so good you can cook, eat and store food in them. But if cooking’s not your thing, they’ll make an equally good vase for your flowers. Just don’t smash them for extra authenticity.
7. The drinker
Case of Kvasir, £30 For us it’s not so much about being the right age to drink, as drinking something that’s the right age, and DogFish breweries brew stuff that’s really old. Take, for example, Kvasir – a beer they based on residues from a 3,500 year old Danish drinking vessel found in the tomb of a leather‐clad priestess. Ingredients include: wheat, lingonberries, myrica gale, yarrow, honey and birch syrup. We’d love a case of this, but you’re going to have to be determined: you can’t buy direct from the brewer, but you can find a list of their US-based distributors here. Failing that, check out the Orkney Wine company who also produce a drink called Kvasir – a drink inspired by Norse tales of the Mead of Poetry. If it’s good enough for the gods, it’s good enough for us.
8. The bookworm
The Way, The Truth, The Dead by Francis Pryor, £20 Frankly, the phrase bury your nose in a good book couldn’t be more appropriate than when it comes to choosing a good read for archaeology-lovers. There are plenty to choose from, including Time’s Anvil by Richard Morris, Death in the Close by Headland Archaeology and Stonehenge by Mike Parker Pearson, but if there’s one book we’re itching to get our grubby little mitts on this year, it’s the latest installment of crime-fighting archaeologist Alan Cadbury. The suspense is killing us!
9. The fashionista
Iron Age bangle, £50 Archaeologists do have a strong sense of style, and when it comes to retro no-one is going to beat an archaeologist at their own game. When other people stop at the 70s, we take it all the way back to the Iron Age. This stunning bracelet is based on a gold torc found by a metal detectorist in Scotland, which dates back to 300BC. Start by checking out the British Museum shop, or search for some of the other independent jewelers who cast their pieces from real artefacts.
10. The junior archaeologist
DigCamp £85 This year LEGO released a female scientist dig set and we were like ‘woooohoooo’. But as much as we like toys, when it comes to having fun, there’s nothing like playing in the mud. That’s why we love the sound of DigCamp – it’s a real archaeological excavation for kids. Plus, the grown-ups get to come too.
11. The navel-gazer
Geno 2.0 DNA Ancestry Kit, £98 We all like to know where we came from, and if you want to take that literally, then this DNA ancestry testing kit is for you. Yes, it might just be a glorified cotton bud in a box and not actually your own tiny lab, but it’s the results that we want! Remember to take them with a pinch of salt. Ancient DNA is a complicated thing.
12. The Archaeology Gift Certificate
DigVentures Archaeology Gift Certificate, £165+ So the archaeology-lover in your life has been banging on about how much they’d love to try archaeology? Sounds like it’s time to chuck them in at the deep end (of the trench) and see how they get on. You can join the hunt for an Anglo-Saxon chapel, excavate an Iron Age roundhouse or head deep into an Ice Age cave. Pick a day, a week or two weeks and spend it on any DigVentures excavation in 2016. This is a fully immersive, action-packed experience and you’ll be trained by some of the best professional archaeologists around. This isn’t just about releasing your inner Indiana, it’s about coming back like a young Kathleen Kenyon.
13. The Contemporary Neanderthal
Eau d’neandertal, £220 Somewhere in an alternative universe, the Neanderthals are thriving in a modern world of highly aestheticised products, including topshelf perfumes and they’re having to worry about Christmas gifts just like us. Luckily for them, London-based artist Kentaro Yamada has gone and designed a fragrance especially for the contemporary Neanderthal. Even though they don’t exist. Nevertheless, we admire his imagination and are lusting after one of those gorgeous porcelain bottles.
14. The sock and sandal wearer
Coptic socks (priceless) No, archaeology-lovers are NOT all a bunch of sock and sandal-wearing stereotypes. Having said that, doesn’t everyone secretly appreciate a really good pair of socks for Christmas? The problem is that when we looked for some archaeologically-inspired ones, the first thing we came across was the world’s oldest knitted sock and guess what? It was designed for sandal-wearers. Download the pattern for free here or here and knit (or ‘nalbind’) it yourself for a gift that’s absolutely priceless.
Support great archaeology
DigVentures crowdfunds archaeological projects that everyone can be part of, in the UK and overseas. With help from people all over the world, we investigate the past and publish our discoveries online for free. Support one of our digs and you can choose to excavate alongside our team, or watch our discoveries online!