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4 Archaeological Vacations Worth Digging Into

by Tom Bastek, Travel Pulse, Features & Advice

March 06, 2015

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

You can’t wait for Jurassic World to come out. You have watched every Indiana Jones movie with fervor. You get a little excited every time you see a headline about a new tomb discovered in Egypt. You find it very possible that aliens and ancients had a relationship and the proof is still out there, waiting for us to discover.

Well now is your chance to go and find out for yourself. Even if you don’t own a degree in ancient history or anthropology, there is still a way for you to embrace your inner Dr. Jones. Here is how.

Many companies are working with scientific teams around the globe to bring people and history together.  These volunteers help with surveying, documenting the landscape and excavating, as well as sampling, cleaning, and processing finds. There are expeditions that can be taken for weeks at a time or some trips that can be done over a long weekend. Most trips are inclusive of lodging and food, and many times are harder work than you would imagine. Best to do your research thoroughly in advance so that you choose an experience that you can handle.

The Earthwatch Institute is an international environmental charity that brings members of the general public they call "citizen scientists" together with world-class scientists to work for the good of the planet. They promote sustainability understanding and education with a diverse repertoire of expeditions including climate change, ocean health, wildlife and ecosystems, as well as archeology and culture.

They are currently working with dig sites on the Mongolian Steppe, excavating the Roman Empire in Britain, looking at Spanish colonization in the Canary Islands, excavating the ancient seaside city of Populonia in Tuscany, discovering one of Coronado’s trails in New Mexico and more.

From the company that brought the U.K. website comes, giving the U.S. the same opportunity to enjoy travel experiences that benefit communities and conservation.  They have a wide variety of trips available, including archeology, however these tours are definitely a little less hands on.

Tour some of the best archeological sites in Greece, along the Amalfi Coast, Turkey, Italy, and Sint Eustatius in the Caribbean.  Although you won't have the opportunity to get your hands dirty, you will still experience some of the greatest sites the world has to offer. The bonus here is that the company specializes in conservation, recycling, offsetting your carbon footprint and more.

Projects Abroad came about in the early 1990s when students were looking for ways to travel overseas to visit and work during time off from school. Dr. Peter Slowe created the company and has grown it to a 10,000 volunteer and $18,000,000 annual commitment to less developed countries.They have opportunities in everything from teaching and healthcare to human rights and veterinarian medicine.

In terms of archeology they offer sites in Romania, including Alba-Iulia, Bordusani-Popina, Deva, and Harsova.  They also allow you to work on their Inca project in the Huyro and Lucumayo Valley areas of Peru. Expect to have activities in exploration, clearing, preserving, and mapping ruins, excavating, cataloging and registering sites and finds.

If you would like to keep it a little closer to home, the U.S. Forest Service provides you the chance to volunteer working with their Passports in Time program. This program allows you to volunteer for programs that are between two and four days in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico and Washington.

This is a free program that you do have to apply for. Accepted volunteers are responsible for their own travel and accommodations, but USFS will provide camping sites at no charge. Some of their projects are based around clean up and restoration and some others are more involved with archeological analysis, curation prep, and cataloguing.

For more information on other sites around the world that are looking for volunteers, staff positions, or even field schools, check out the Archeological Institute of America’s Fieldwork Opportunities Bulletin.
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