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What’s What: If you love watching Indiana Jones movies or are intrigued by ancient civilizations, think about volunteering on an archaeology dig!

Amava Take: Always wished you had taken an archaeology class in college? Are you drawn to artifacts from ancient cultures when you visit a museum? Not sure how to spend next summer? Believe it or not, you can help excavate a Roman villa or a medieval cemetery in Transylvania. Closer to home you could work on unearthing Colorado’s Pueblo community. How? By volunteering on an excavation run by an archaeology professor.

From the Front Lines:

What kinds of candidates are you looking for to fill these jobs?

People who are interested in learning about archaeology and willing to roll up their sleeves and get trained to do fieldwork.

Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?

Bring old clothes to work in, along with an extra hat and pair of sunglasses. Check out the Archaeological Institute of America’s Preparing for a Dig page for more tips.

What’s a typical day like?

Since there are excavations all over the world in different countries, there isn’t really a “typical” day. That said, many digs take place in the summer so it can be very hot. The work can be painstaking and sometimes monotonous, but can also be incredibly exciting when you discover a treasure.

From the Trenches:

What’s the most satisfying part of the job?

Getting to participate on a professional excavation with archaeology professors and meeting people from all over the world. Learning about the history of a site can be fascinating.

What are the hard parts of the job?

Working on a dig is not glamorous. You can get really dirty and sweaty out in the field.  Also, many times you are housed in a dormitory in a room with one or more people.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering on a dig?

Archaeological digs are quite different from what is seen in the movies. The work can be slow and painstaking and you need to have attention to detail. Also, the housing for volunteers is generally not luxurious. If you want privacy, and can afford it, look into booking your own accommodations.

Special Requirements: There are sometimes special requirements, such as having taken certain classes or having previous archaeology experience. But many programs don’t have any special requirements and will train volunteers of all ages.

Related Classes: Introduction to Journaling, Photographing Nature with Your Digital Camera

Finding a Position: Visit the Archaeological Institute of America’s Fieldwork Opportunities Bulletin to learn more and sign up. You can search by country or keyword to find what works for your interests and schedule. There are opportunities in the United States and throughout the world. Earth Watch matches volunteers with digs and this article in USA Today offers some tips about how to join a dig.