THE GUIDE TO ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIELDWORK OPPORTUNITIES OUTSIDE THE UK
ARCHAEOLOGY ABROAD regrets to announce that it will cease operation at the end of 2014. After more than 40 years providing students and all those interested in archaeology with information about fieldwork opportunities outside the UK, it is no longer viable for us to compete with information freely available on the internet, provided mostly by much larger organisations for which posting details of archaeological field schools, excavations, specialist courses, workshops and tours on their websites is one of many activities. From 1 October 2014, information regarding Archaeology Abroad will be gradually withdrawn, amended or updated, wherever it currently appears.
Below is some basic information and advice for those starting out on the journey of finding out about archaeology and joining an excavation abroad or for those with some digging experience who are seeking to expand their excavation knowledge. This is followed by an alphabetical list of websites that list dig opportunities both in the UK and around the world.
Joining an excavation or field school in another country is an exciting prospect, but it is essential to be well-prepared! Whilst many projects readily accept participants with little or no previous archaeological training or experience, it is strongly recommended to learn some basic archaeological techniques at home before venturing abroad.
The opportunities for taking part in an archaeological excavation abroad differ from country to country, depending on a number of factors. Those with well-organised national archaeological services (eg France) offer a wide range of digs every season at minimal cost; elsewhere (eg Egypt), the openings may be far more limited. Permits to undertake archaeological investigations can be very difficult to obtain and places on those projects are most often reserved for qualified members of existing fieldwork teams. In some countries, local labour is used for non-specialist tasks thus reducing the need for dig volunteers. The political situation can severely limit archaeological activity and language can also be a barrier.
Many archaeological projects run wholly or in part as training courses or field schools. Fees for this type of project can be substantial but will generally include food, accommodation, tuition, field trips and all other costs, except travel to and from the country/project location. Archaeological fieldwork normally involves fairly strenuous physical labour, so participants need to be fit and healthy and enjoy working as part of a team. Anti-tetanus vaccination is strongly advised and it is essential that participants have their own insurance to cover travel cancellation, illness, personal injury or loss.
For insurance purposes, the minimum age for participation is normally 18, although some projects can accept younger participants. The minimum length of stay may be from just one week to the whole season, but will usually be two weeks. Accommodation and food are often provided, though may be quite basic (eg if camping) and will mostly involve shared rooms and facilities. On some sites, diggers will be expected to share the shopping, cooking and other communal tasks. There are frequently different arrangements at weekends or on days off. Fares will not normally be paid and if meeting arrangements are not in place, participants may need to find their own way to the excavation site or dig headquarters.
Finally, conditions can and do vary considerably from site to site and participants should check all arrangements carefully with the organiser before accepting a place to dig abroad.
EXCAVATION AND TRAINING IN THE UK
The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) provides information about archaeological excavations and field schools in the UK, together with details of training and degree courses, career options, local archaeological groups and societies. For further information, visit their website at http://www.archaeologyuk.org/ or contact the CBA at Beatrice de Cardi House, 66 Bootham, York YO30 7BZ, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1904-671417. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIELDWORK OPPORTUNITIES AROUND THE WORLD
Archaeological Institute of America
Biblical Archaeology Society
Council for British Archaeology - Briefing (UK digs)
Current Archaeology - Go Diggings (UK digs)
French Ministry of Culture - Excavation Listings
Israel Antiquities Authority
Past Horizons - World Projects, News and Equipment
Shovelbums - Guide to Archaeology and Anthropology Field Schools