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.
I Did This!
- La Sabranenque coordinates 2-3 week work projects in France and Italy from April to October, to preserve and restore rural, Medieval Mediterranean architecture. Volunteers are taught to use the original construction techniques, including: stone masonry, stone cutting, tiling, paving, and drystone walling.
- 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.
- The Foundation for Latin American Anthropological Research (FLAAR) offers opportunities to assist on research in Maya art and archaeology in Guatemala City. Rather than excavation, most of the work involves digital photography and large format printing of rollout photographs of Maya vases.
- The Western Sahara Projects has ongoing need for both amateur and experienced volunteers to help with survey and excavation work on the Sahara Desert in March/April and October/November.
- Projects Abroad offers the opportunity to do two-week assignments in excavation work at an archaeology site in Romania.
- Archaeolink and Archaeologyfieldwork.com both list a wide variety of assorted archaeology volunteer opportunities and archaeology vacations.