As noted in the overview, daily journals are meant to be minimally-edited, stream-of-consciousness accounts about excavation progress. Nonetheless, they should follow a specified format and include at basic info that is specified below.
Setup and Standard Information #
Each note follows a standard format and includes certain standard information (below). It is recommended that you create a template note at the beginning of the season that includes the information below (or space to add it). To do this, simply create a note that is formatted as you wish, and name it “Template”; you can then create each new note by duplicating the template and then renaming it.
When you create a new note, you should first name it. Each note should be named with the area ID, the date, and the day of excavation; for example, “97.541 – 20220706 (Day 29).” Each note should include the following information in the following order at its top:
- Name(s) of area supervisor and area assistants
- Name(s) of workers present (this will help when calculating person-hours for reports)
- Working conditions (e.g., weather conditions, unforeseen problems, visitors, etc.)
- Daily goals (bullet points or check boxes are fine)
- A .jpg of the previous workday’s Day Plan, which should be annotated over the course of the current workday to illustrate the progress of excavation
As above, you should prepare new notes the night before new workdays, including daily goals. This practice enables others to step in to manage your excavation area should you unexpectedly be unable to go to the field the next day (e.g., if you are not feeling well).
Taking Daily Notes #
Over the course of the day, you should add entries to your journal frequently, including text, photos, and annotations. Topics to discuss in text include at least the following:
- Excavation strategies
- Decision-making processes
- Initial interpretations
- List of contexts opened and samples created (very valuable if the internet is unreliable)
- Photobatch information
- Tags for contexts and samples
Refer to EA numbers, context numbers, sample numbers, etc. rather than using colloquial terminology, as this will be easier for other project members or future readers to understand. For example, instead of writing things like “similar to the wall in Alice’s trench” or “the fill in the big pit”, be more specific and accurate by writing “similar to wall 15 in EA 99.526” or “fill 303 in the big pit 298.”
It is also recommended that you add timestamps to your notes to help readers understand how circumstances evolved over the course of the day. Consider the following sample entries:
9:30 – We closed context 45 (the stone rubble) earlier this morning and decided to excavate the fill from the pit in the northwestern corner of the area as context 46. We have completed one pass in fill 46 and have noticed no interesting developments so far. One approximate context (47-grinding stone).
11:00 – After two more passes in fill 46, came down on a layer of rubble containing what might be metal slag; closing 46 and will continue here in a new context asap!
You should also take photos while excavating contexts. These are called progress photos and can be annotated in Evernote to add visual clarity to your textual notes. Annotated photos are particularly valuable for important spatial relationships that might be difficult to describe in words. See the guidelines for progress photos to ensure that your photos are of sufficient quality.
Just as you annotate progress photos, you should also neatly annotated the previous workday’s day plan to show the locations of new contexts, areas or features of interest, the locations of approximate contexts, etc. While many annotations will eventually be replaced by digitized point, line, or polygon illustrations in GIS (read elsewhere about drawing newly exposed features), routinely annotating day plans is extremely useful for excavators and others during and after the excavation season.
You should take the necessary time to make notes while in the field, where you can engage directly with the excavation area. In certain circumstances this may be extremely difficult, however, and you can supplement notes taken in the field with additional or clarifying thoughts in the afternoon. If you find yourself routinely struggling to find time while in the field, please discuss with a supervisor or leadership to find ways to modify in-field workflows or workforce management to enable time for this important recording practice.
Adding Tags #
A final necessary process of daily journaling is tagging. Each note must be tagged with the excavation area ID, as well as with the context keys of all contexts mentioned in the text (spatial, group, approximate, etc.). This enables quick searches for references to particular contexts during and after the season. Tags can be added either in the field or in the lab. When during the day they are entered is less important than that they are entered: they are an essential part of the daily journals.