Excavations are mostly fascinating and rewarding experiences - but it is important to be well-prepared. Although some projects are happy to 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. Conditions can and do vary considerably from site to site and participants are advised to check all arrangements carefully with the organiser before accepting a place to dig abroad.
Opportunities for taking part in an archaeological excavation abroad can differ from country to country, depending on a number of factors. Those with well-organised national archaeological services (eg France) are able to offer a wide range of digs every season at minimal cost. Elsewhere (eg Egypt, Greece) 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 volunteers. The political situation can also 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. 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 cover against illness, personal injury or loss and transport cancellation.
The minimum age for participation is normally 18 (for insurance purposes) although some projects can accept younger participants. The minimum length of stay varies from one week to the whole season, but will usually be two weeks. Accommodation and food are often provided, though may be quite basic (eg camping) and involve shared rooms and facilities. On some sites, diggers will be expected to share the shopping and cooking. 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.
Archaeology Abroad is unable to undertake site inspections, but endeavours to publish information only from reputable professional archaeologists and institutions. Although we aim to give as much detail as possible, we can only publish the information provided to us and participants should check all arrangements carefully with the organiser(s) before departure.
For information about training excavations and fieldwork opportunities in the UK, local societies, university courses and careers contact:
Tel: +44 (0) 1904 671417
London W4 2PD
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8819 5580
For the 9-16 age group , contact:
Tel: +44 (0) 1904 671417