I want to go on a dig. How do I volunteer? What archaeological opportunities are there in my area?
Dr. dig responds:
If you live in the United States, check out our State-by-State Guide to Archaeology for more details about archaeology and archaeological opportunities in your area.
There are many archaeological sites all over the world, but only qualified archaeologists are given permission to excavate a site. Volunteers are often needed to help archaeologists in the field, and this is how you can become involved in a real archaeological excavation.
You might want to contact some of the larger organizations to see what opportunities are available to work on such field programs. The minimum age for most archaeology camps and field schools is usually 14 - 16 years of age. A very few will take younger children, who must be accompanied by an adult. There are lots of other archaeological experiences you can also enjoy, such as visiting historic sites, going on guided fossil hunts, and taking classes at your local museum.
Check out the following websites and addresses for further information:
Archaeological Fieldwork Opportunities Bulletin
Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company
4050 Westmark Drive
Dubuque, Iowa 52002
The Archaeological Fieldwork Opportunities Bulletin, published each year, aims to be a complete list of fieldwork and educational opportunities that are available in the United States and worldwide. Each entry in the bulletin provides useful information about the excavation or program, who to contact for further information, and the cost for participation, if any. Although most fieldwork opportunities have a minimum age requirement, these vary greatly from site to site and many programs do not require any previous archaeological experience. Cost: $14.00 for members of the Archaeological Institute of America; $16.00 to non-members.
Archaeological Institute of America
656 Beacon Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02215-2006
The AIA is mainly an adult organization that has local societies (clubs) all over the United States. Some of these local societies run great programs for kids. Contact the Archaeological Institute of America to find out more about possible youth programs near you.
31-34 Gordon Square
London WC1H OPY
A listing by the Institute of Archaeology at the University College of London for volunteers on a wide variety of projects of all periods in diverse locations worldwide.
3 Clock Tower Place, Suite 100
Maynard, MA 01754
1-800-776-0188 or 978-461-0081
Earthwatch is a non-profit organization that supports archaeological research worldwide. Volunteers, known as EarthCorps, join research expeditions and work side by side with the experts. Expeditions usually last about two weeks and are scheduled year-round.
National Association of State Archaeologists:
Most states now have an Archaeology Week, when families and other folks can get hands-on experience doing the stuff archaeologists do. For information about sites and field schools, contact your state archaeologist. You will find a list of State Archaeologists at www.uiowa.edu/~osa/nasa.
Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
23390 Country Road K
Cortez, CO 81321
Special programs at Crow Canyon include a month-long high school field school where students from around the country can join the staff at Crow Canyon and learn real archaeological techniques (minimum age 14).
National Forest Service
Passport in Time (PIT)
P.O. Box 31315
Tuscon, AZ 85751-1315
PIT provides opportunities for the public to work with professional archaeologists on national forests across the country. Many of the projects accept volunteers under 18 with a responsible adult. You can call to get a free catalog, or you may subscribe to the PIT Traveler (Passport in Time Clearinghouse, P. O. Box 31315, Tucson, AZ 85751-1315, (520) 722-2716, (800) 281-9176), a newsletter that describes their program in which volunteers work with archaeologists in the National Forest Service on a variety of projects.
Archaeological Fieldwork Server:
On the internet, a number of projects seeking students and volunteers are listed at www.cincpac.com/afs/testpit.html.