Archaeology projects often involve learning about the past through environs and artifacts left by people and civilizations from times long gone. An archaeological dig often involves weeks, months and even years of recovering materials from a site. Archaeological digs usually involve professional archaeologists, archaeology students, staff and volunteers in varying responsibilities. If you are a professional in this field, or if you are interested as an amateur archaeologist, there are actually several opportunities for you to participate in an archaeological dig.
Familiarize yourself with upcoming digs. The first thing you need to know is where and when an archaeological dig will be done. You can usually check with universities if they have planned expeditions, or if they are planning to be involved with a team either locally or abroad.
You can also check online for schedules of major digs. About.com has a list of upcoming and ongoing archaeological expeditions around the world at archaeology.about.com (the current list is for 2010). You can also participate in region and local based projects. For instance, La Sabraneque is in regular need of volunteers for preservation of Mediterranean architecture in Italy and France sabranenque.com. The USDA Forest Service regularly runs a preservation project that requires volunteers.
Get involved in different stages of the project. An archaeological dig involves a lot of work from start to finish. It’s not only in the process of actual digging for artifacts that you can be involved in. You can be part of a surveying team, which involves photographing the site from an aerial point of view and from the ground. You can be involved in the actual excavation. You can help manage the project’s finances. You can also help with cleaning and recovery. Once the items are brought back for identification and cataloging, you can help with clerical work. The possibilities are diverse.
Sign up with a field school. If you are interested in really going out to the field, you can sign up with a field school, which are usually groups organized by universities or government-run archaeological departments that train undergraduate and graduate students in field work. These teams are usually ready to accept volunteers. If you are currently enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student, you might be able to use your experience with field school to merit actual academic credits.
Volunteer. Apart from field schools, some archaeological sites accept volunteer workers. Some might have a budget for allowances, although some digs would even require volunteers to pay a small fee.
Whatever the task you would be doing, be prepared to spend a lot of time in rough territory. You will need supplies like comfortable work clothes, sunblock, a wide-brimmed hat, and the like. Some archaeological digs provide for food and lodging, but you might have to pay for these, or you can also bring your own.
Archaeological expeditions can be fun and exciting. These also involve a lot of hard work. If you imagine yourself to be the next Indiana Jones, though, then go ahead and sign up to be part of an archaeological dig.