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Participate in an Archeology Dig or Restoration Project

by Katherine Noyes
The Challenge

Archaeology relies on countless hours of effort for every discovery. But time is a luxury in short supply for many archaeology efforts, because archaeological sites throughout the world are in danger of being destroyed by uncontrolled development, looting and the illicit trade in antiquities. By spending your next vacation helping in an archaeology dig or restoration project, you can help speed up new discoveries about the past — before it's too late.

Typical archaeology projects include:

  • excavating a fossil site to help understand how and why dinosaurs and mammals first appeared
  • restoring and reconstructing ancient structures, using original building techniques
  • digging for clues to a culture's environmental ruin
  • using ethno-botany and garden archaeology to clarify Roman religion
  • investigating a Roman military site to reveal the extent of cultural interchange
  • exploring cave systems to reconstruct their entire human history

The types of tasks archaeology volunteers are asked to do can vary widely, but may include excavating and testing sediment on an excavation site; washing and sorting artifacts in a laboratory; cleaning prehistoric cave art that has been vandalized; or stone masonry and tiling in a restoration project.

Volunteer opportunities abound in archaeology for those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get a little dirty. Without your help, lessons from the past may never be uncovered.

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  • La Sabranenque coordinates one week or longer work projects in southern France to help restore the medieval site of St Victor la Coste from May through September. Volunteers are taught to use the original construction techniques, including stone masonry, stone cutting, and paving. Meals and accommodations in traditional housing are included. 
  • The USDA Forest Service offers archaeology volunteer opportunities from 2 days to 2 weeks or longer through its Passports in Time program. There are no costs to participate, but volunteers are responsible for their own travel.
  • Projects Abroad offers the opportunity to do assignments in excavation work at a number of different archaeological sites in Romania, including Alba-Iulia, Bordusani-Popina, Deva, and Harsova. Volunteers assist with excavation, cleaning and reconstructing pottery pieces and other found items, and learning about the history of the area. 
  • Enjoy an Inca archaeology project in Peru where you can help excavate new sites, clean and preserve pre-Inca walls and terracing systems, map the ruins, and register finds. Volunteers stay in community houses and can excavate from April through October. Stays of less than one month are available.
  • Archaeolink and Archaeologyfieldwork.com both list a wide variety of assorted archaeology volunteer opportunities and archaeology vacations.

Bon voyage!

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