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So, You Want to Go on an Archaeological Dig?

Archaeological dig trowel

So, you want to go on an archaeological dig. It sounds exciting and adventurous. But, you have no experience with archaeology or excavation. What do you do? Well, you attend an archaeology field school! Archaeological field schools are programs that give you hands-on training in archaeological excavation techniques. So, you get to learn and take part in a dig at the same time! While each field school program is different, many times applications are due in the late winter and early spring for the following summer’s program. So you will want to start preparing now if you want to take part next summer!

Where to Attend?

One decision you need to make is whether to attend a field school in your own country or if you want to go to an international site instead. You’ll need more time to prepare for an international field school, since you will probably need to get a passport, arrange for a plane ticket, and get vaccinations, among other things.

So, how do you find out about field schools? Well, of course, you can start off by doing a Google search for “archaeology field school.” This will bring up millions of results that you can sift through. But, you can also check some archaeology websites that list field school opportunities. Here are just a few examples.

The AIA (Archaeological Institute of America) has an interactive map on its website that shows many field schools. Check out this website to learn more. You can also view this AIA list of fieldwork opportunities as well. Another good resource is the AAA’s (American Anthropological Association) website. They offer a searchable database of some field school opportunities. Check out this webpage. In addition, many colleges and universities that have Anthropology and/or Archaeology degree programs also offer field schools. So, be sure to check out any nearby educational institutions to see if there are any field school opportunities.

What Type of Field School?

Another decision you need to make is what type of field school you want to attend. For example, do you want to learn about Prehistoric Archaeology, or Classical Archaeology, or maybe Biblical Archaeology? Or are you interested in Underwater Archaeology? There are several types of archaeology, so make sure you choose one that interests you. The Institute for Field Research lists fieldwork opportunities by specialization, so visit this link to see the categories and available programs.

What are the Details?

The next thing you need to do is read the information on each field school program very carefully. Every field school is different, and you will want to know what you are getting into. Most field schools charge tuition, so be sure to check out the price and what it includes. Also, your sleeping accommodations will differ by program, so be sure to find out what to expect. Many times your meals will be included in the program fee, so if you have dietary restrictions, be sure to look into what food is provided.

archaeological dig

What Equipment Do I Need?

You should also find out what you are expected to bring with you to the field school. Every program is different, so be sure to get a packing list for your specific program. Here are some examples of things you may need to bring:

  • camping tent
  • sleeping bag
  • flashlight and batteries
  • travel alarm clock
  • sunscreen
  • bug spray
  • wide brimmed hat
  • sunglasses
  • journal and writing instruments
  • water bottle
  • first aid kit
  • pocketknife
  • backpack
  • toiletries
  • towels
  • clothing
  • sturdy hiking boots
  • things to pass the time, such as books, cards, games, etc.

Some field schools provide all the archaeology equipment you will need, and others require that you purchase your own. Here are some examples of equipment you may need to buy:

  • masonry trowel
  • line level
  • metric measuring tape
  • 2 inch paintbrush
  • whisk broom
  • forceps
  • hand lens (small magnifying glass)
  • clipboard
  • pencils
  • tool box
  • work gloves

Learn More

To learn more about what to bring to an archaeological field school, check out this link from Dig it With Raven and this link from Kinkella’s Archaeology website.

Thanks for reading!