trowel fodder
 n.— «While many of the technical aspects of archaeology can be learnt in a classroom, there is no substitute for practical experience. If you are really committed to the subject many excavations will offer places to what are commonly known as “trowel fodder”—people who do all the messy, boring jobs such as digging trenches, pushing wheel barrows and standing around all day in the pouring rain holding surveying poles. It might not be glamorous, but it will give you an invaluable grounding in the basic skills of field archaeology.» —“Shortcuts: How to make it as an archaeologist” by Paul Sussman CNN Dec. 11, 2006. (source: Double-Tongued Dictionary)

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