Have you ever dreamed of participating in an Archeological excavation? If so, then an Archeological Vacation might be the vacation for you.
Programs are offered by several states during the summer months to train the average individual in excavation techniques, along with record keeping and surveying procedures. You do not have to be an expert in the field of Archeology to participate. Most people who attend these field workshops are interested in archeology or history but have never had the opportunity to explore this area.
Archeology is not limited to the study of things prehistoric-pertaining to
the time before recorded history. Historic archeology is another popular field
that deals with the not-so-distant past. Programs offered by the states listed
are for both prehistoric and historic Archeology.
Texas Archeological Society
The Texas Archeological Society sponsors an archeological excavation/field
school to train individuals in the proper techniques of excavating, recording
and the preservation of finds. Each year the dig is located in a different part
of the state during one of the summer months and lasts for eight days. During
the excavation/field school individuals stay in tents or RV’s that are located
close to the excavation site. The principle focus of the dig is for the average
individual to be able to participate in a professionally run archeological
excavation. Participants can choose from several different jobs at the dig:
Helping with the actual
excavating-Participants learn proper use of a trowel along with other
methods for excavating.
Help with surveying new
sites-Individuals learn the proper techniques needed to locate and
document new historic and prehistoric sites.
Individuals can help with lab
procedures-The cleaning and recording of artifacts such as pottery shards,
The field school is held from 7am
to 1pm the rest of the day is free to
explore, rest, and attend workshops. Some of the workshops offered at the field
An evening program is also offered that focuses on archeology and the
history of the area where the dig is taking place.
School Held During the Excavation
Children are offered many opportunities to participate in activities at the
excavation. They learn various methods and procedures. Some of the activities
that were offered at past field schools are:
Children learned how to properly layout excavation units and also how to
dig properly with a trowel.
Learned how to properly record artifacts and findings.
Youngsters also learned how
to collect artifacts in a manner that preserves the provenience of the
find. (Provenience being the original location in which the artifact was
found and any important information concerning the artifact)
Children were also taught the
various techniques that Native American’s used to start fires and also the
use of boiling stones.
The 2003 and 2004 field
schools taught children how Spanish Colonial soldiers lived and worked at
the Presidio San Saba site.
Some of the children learned
how Archeologists use tree ring dating at an excavation.
Along with learning
procedures and methods, children were also able to participate in a play
which was a reenactment of the history of the Presidio San Saba.
The 2003 and 2004 excavation/field schools were held at the Presidio San
Saba site located in Menard, TX.
This was the site of a fort that was occupied until 1770. The excavation
yielded many interesting finds such as pottery, tools and even an intact piece
of fabric, which is extremely rare due to the fact that cloth decomposes
rapidly. The Texas Archeological Society’s excavation/field school for the
years 2003 and 2004 was a success due in large part to the many volunteers that
assisted the archeologists.
Oregon Archeological Society
The OAS Training Program provides basic and advanced educational training
opportunities for volunteers.
The Basic Archeology training series is given in the spring of each year.
This program teaches beginners the basic knowledge of archeology and excavation
but also enables them to be able to understand procedures and what is expected
of them at the dig site or in the lab. Lectures and workshops are given by
professionals in the field of Archeology. The workshops provide training in
Field methods- Excavating and
documenting artifacts and finds.
Laboratory analysis- The
cleaning and preparing of artifacts for preservation and storage.
Survey methods and
techniques- The surveying and documenting of possible future excavation
The OAS Basic Training Series also offers the individual knowledge about
Northwest archeology, artifacts, and also mapping techniques. Individuals must
be 18 years old to participate in this field school. Unfortunately, there is no
field school for children or young adults. After completing the basic training
session you will be qualified for to help with these activities:
The Alabama Archaeological
While this organization does not offer a summer dig it does allow members
numerous fieldtrips to excavation sites along with being able to help with the
cleaning and cataloging of artifacts that are held at the Erskine Ramsay
Archaeological Repository located in Moundville,
The Archaeological Society of South Carolina
This group offers a spring workshop. The workshop provides members a chance
to learn from others. This informal setting provides knowledge, skills, information
and techniques within the field of archeology. The workshop takes place in
April and is held for one day. This comprehensive workshop offers participants
a number of activities:
Tanning hide techniques
South Carolina also hosts an
Archeology Discovery Weekend each year. This is a three-day event usually held
at a state park. Children are allowed to participate in the Discovery Weekend.
This event provides numerous workshops along with those listed above, such as:
Prehistoric pottery firing
Black powder weapons
Archeology skills for
Plus, many other activities
This organization offers activities throughout the year. Divers are also encouraged
to participate in the Sport Divers Archeology Management Program as well as
The Maine Archaeological
The Damariscotta River
Association- A local chapter of the Maine Archaeological Society offers
individuals the chance to participate several excavations both prehistoric
and historic. Past excavation sites have included the Glidden Midden, a
site located on the upper Damariscotta
River and also the excavation
of the Bryant-Barker Tavern (historic site) from the 1800’s era.
Friends of the Maine
State Museum- A local chapter of the MAS, which offers members a two week
field school. This field school is held in the summer and provides members
with an understanding of Maine
from the last Ice Age, 12,000 years ago to the present. One other topic
covered by the field school is European settlements in the 17th century.
Museum Archaeological field
school- Participants are provided the opportunity to work with staff
archeologists at an on-going research site. This is a week long program
which includes field techniques, Wabanaki history, lab analysis, and also
The Arkansas Archaeological Society hosts one of the most intensive training
programs in the country for amateur archeologists. The program is held each
summer for 2 weeks. Participants in the program gain experience in all phases
of archeological excavation, site surveying, and lab procedures under the
supervision of professionals. Children are also allowed and encouraged to take
part in every aspect of the program.
The program was started in 1964. Society members participate as much or as
little as they want during the field session. Everyone is required to attend an
orientation lecture before beginning work. Members gain valuable knowledge on
excavation techniques, lab processes, record keeping plus surveying techniques.
Each topic is discussed in a class-room setting except for those that relating
directly to excavating; those are held in the field at the site. All classes
are held close to the dig location.
Society Certification Program
The Arkansas Archaeological Society also offers a certification program.
This program was started in 1972 and provides a means of formal training in
various aspects of archaeology outside of an academic degree. This program
takes up to four years to complete since most of the hands-on work required can
only be done during the summer training program. Some of the courses offered
for this program are:
Basic site surveying
Basic excavation techniques
Basic lab techniques
Ceramic description and
Lithic description and
Plus, various other courses
Individuals who complete the certification programs are qualified to assist
archeologist through out the year on various projects plus they are qualified
to lead there own research for the State of Arkansas.
Many have been offered employment with the forest service and private
businesses such as logging companies, who are required to have an archeologist
in the field during logging operations.
Pack Your Trowel
So pack your trowel and join the many other volunteers participating at
these digs for a memorable summer vacation packed full of discovery and