Does the thought of unearthing a piece of world history with your bare hands attract you? If you are working toward a career in archaeology, anthropology, or international studies, interested in history and discovery, and want to find a meaningful way to spend time abroad, then consider volunteering abroad in archaeology. From such an amazing prospect, you should expect to get dirty while working as a part of a team in order to uncover portions of history all the while adding to your resume.
Why Volunteer Abroad in Archaeology
Archaeology volunteering abroad, widely known as “digging”, is a unique opportunity to experience a culture in a dynamic way by living and working amidst the local population and discovering parts of its history. Not only does participating in a volunteer abroad program demonstrate that you have spent time in the field, but the prospect of international work is an added bonus when it comes time for employment consideration or admission to graduate school.
This type of volunteerism demands consideration of culture and tradition of the native population on and off the job, a part of the experience that will surely provide you with an enlightened global perspective.
While archaeological dig sites exist across the Middle East, Europe, South America and elsewhere, these are just three of the most popular places to consider for archaeology volunteering programs abroad.
Israel is a hot spot for archaeology digs as well as a great resource for those without experience looking to volunteer abroad on a budget. Due to its plethora of dig sites, extensive funding, and relatively Western lifestyle, volunteers usually find Israel to be a great country to begin digging. Those with a personal interest in Biblical and/or Islamic history tend to flock to Israel, due to its extensive list of archaeology sites. Those who volunteer in Israel can choose from uncovering early Roman to Islamic history in Tiberius, joining the The Tel Bet Yerah Archaeology Project in search of Early Bronze Age relics, or digging around at Mount Zion located in the old city of Jerusalem, among others.
Romania. Known for its classical and medieval archaeological sites, Romania is a terrific place for volunteers looking to get hands on experience by participating in a dig. The best season for archaeology volunteering in Romania is generally around April to September, and dig locations may include Deva, Sarmizegetusa Cluj, as well as the Alba Museums.
Peru. Those interested in Incan history and archaeology gravitate to the Huyro, Lucumayo Valley in Peru. Archaeology volunteer programs in Peru typically accept volunteers with no experience who have a desire to learn about the ancient Incan civilization. Volunteers are expected to hike into most sites and share accommodation with locals in most programs, and every volunteer will have the chance to learn how the Inca civilization continues to influence modern day Peruvians.
Archaeology Volunteering Abroad
Archaeology volunteers often carry out required project tasks that would not otherwise be possible for local staff to complete, due to time constraints or heavy work loads. The tasks of every archaeology volunteer abroad will vary widely, since archaeology projects also vary widely. Archaeology volunteering programs abroad may entail working on construction projects, agricultural development, nature conservation, renovation of historical monuments, or assistance with archaeological research.
A good number of archaeology projects abroad run entirely or in part as field schools or courses designed for training future archaeologists. Therefore, some digs, or projects, can be rather exclusive, expensive, or have very strict requirements. It is important to do research in advance of prospective digs you might want to volunteer with and note the requirements they require for participation. Individuals can volunteer abroad in archaeology for anywhere from one week to multiple months, often the length of the program is dependent on the specifics of the dig and the time span of the project. Factors such as political situations, language barriers, permits, and weather may limit or greatly impact the quality or timing of a specific dig or archaeology volunteer program.
Full Circle Experience. Joining an excavation or field school abroad is an exciting opportunity which can be beneficial personally, professionally, and academically. Volunteers cultivate skills in communication, attention to detail, cultural sensitivity; they practice working within a team environment, as well as learn some archaeological techniques necessary to gain entrance into a field school or graduate program.
- Labor Intensive. Volunteers are encouraged to come prepared before embarking on their journey by learning basic archaeological techniques, acquire a rudimentary knowledge of the culture and language in where you wish to work, vaccination against tetanus, and being capable of withstanding manual labor in extreme weather conditions. Digging involves considerable strenuous physical labor and thus participants need to prove themselves fit enough to be a beneficial member of the team.