Your archaeological vacation

anthro1.jpgIf you find the science of human origins fascinating and you’re not afraid of hard, dirty, tedious work, signing on to work as an archaeological volunteer in the field could be a great travel experience.

The Archeological Institute of America is the premier source of info about volunteer field work around the world. In Africa, you can help out with a dig in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania with Earthwatch; join a field school in South Africa or Egypt; or conduct research in Rwanda.

Lots of other fieldwork opportunities are available, if you want to try something closer to home before heading off to Africa. In the U.S., the National Park Service suggests lots of opportunities to work with archaeologists. And the AIA site will take you to opportunities in any part of the world, not just Africa. Earthwatch also has projects all over.

When I was a student at Rhode Island College, the geography and anthropology departments were combined, so several of my professors were anthropologists. Once I went along on a weekend dig in a local forest, looking for evidence of early settlements. The work will teach you patience, for sure. It involves a lot of mapping, and digging, and extremely precise record-keeping. But it’s also a lot of fun to be outdoors all day, engaged in a really worthwhile endeavor in search of new discoveries, among good company. One of the better ways I can think of to spend your time on the planet.