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Managing an Archaeology Field Crew: Effective Time and Personnel Management for CRM Projects

Using the proper resources and getting to know co-workers is essential in effective crew management. While often overlooked and undervalued, the following tips are useful, and will help Crew Chiefs and Field Directors manage both field crews and field work in a professional manner.

Maps are Worth a Thousand Words

Maps are essential in archaeology. At the very least, a state gazetteer and topographical maps of the project area are needed. If possible, obtain aerial photos as well. The client or research department at the CRM firm will often be able to supply these. In addition, the company’s graphics department will often make series of project maps that show the project details in one glance. Ask for these if not immediately provided.

Keep Detailed Archaeological Records

Keep track of what has been surveyed by using multiple formats. Typically, the best way to indicate where survey has been conducted or where a site has been identified is by marking it on a topographical map or aerial photo. Computerized spreadsheets are also a great way to stay organized, especially if the project has been subdivided into sections. In addition, keeping a field notebook in the field is an ideal way to note anything that may need to be referred to later.

Get to Know the Field Crew

Try to obtain phone numbers from all field crew members, and give them several contact numbers. Inform the crew of the project scope, goals, and requirements. If very specific or unusual requirements are necessary, make a list and hand it out to the crew. Soil identification guides and state regulations are also good sources of information to which crew members may need to refer.

Don’t be afraid to give precise instructions. Crew management can sometimes be difficult in the field, so be a specific as possible. And, on occasion, reward the crew with treats at the end of a hard work day. They will return the favor in kind.


Set Daily Goals

Before leaving for the field each day, set a daily goal. For example, if a linear survey is being conducted, set a goal of surveying at least half a mile for that day (again, depending on client requirements). Let the crew know what is expected of them each day. Additionally, allocate time for in the evenings for paperwork so that the workload does not become overwhelming.

Applying Archaeology Management Skills

Managing a field crew in archaeology can be challenging, but with adequate preparation and efficient time and personnel management, the work will become much more enjoyable. Try to view co-workers and clients as partners; and as a team, work together to get the job done.

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