Archaeology is simply the study of past human cultures by analyzing the material remains that they left behind. Here is where we learn all about the life and advancements of the human race, often giving us insight into the way we live in the present time. For tourists, practicing the science is also a fairly common activity and can be done all over the world. Prime locations for archaeologists are the Egypt, Peru, Italy, Greece, and China, with other major sites located throughout Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
By tourists signing up and joining an archaeological expedition, they actually help the digs continue. Without tourism and volunteers the study of archaeology as we know it would be slowed down tremendously. When tourists decide they want to join a dig, usually they are not given the same conditions as the paid archaeologist on a site. Usually they are given far better conditions. It may still be basic, but at times the paying volunteers haven private cabins or bungalows to sleep in, don’t work full days, and are treated with better food. Often the paying tourist on a site comes in a group, digs for just part of their trip and then goes sightseeing for the rest.
Much of the practice involves being in the dirt. They call many archeological sights digs, because that is essentially all that is going on. People are using shovels to tear up the dirt to search for any remains of a civilization such as bones or cooking utensils. When the basic volunteer finds something of interest, they alert a team leader who then decides what to do. Often times you will dig all day and find nothing, while other rare times you might just find something that could completely change the way we look at the world.
Options for beginners
The beginning archaeologist starts his passion for the science by maybe hearing a lecture, taking a class, or visiting an ancient site such as Machu Picchu or the Roman Coliseum. They have always loved history, but for what ever reason, want to become more involved uncovering it. For most it is a hobby. The majority of those you will find on digs are students who will receive college credit and retirees who are looking to find new ways of spending their time. Many come join a dig for just a week or two to get their hands dirt at a dig and see what all the fuss is about. Afterward they will spend a few days seeing the major sites as tourists, and then go home. They are curious of the civilizations and their way of life and are eager to learn. Many become board and tired after their first dig and never come back, but yet many stay on for longer assignments and become regulars.
Options for advanced
The advanced archaeologist is usually working on a degree or studying a certain civilization for a book or similar project. They may even lead an excavation or tour to uncover the remains of an ancient culture. They are willing to spend months or even years on their hands and knees digging through the dirt. These guys and gals can survive the most basic conditions; they can withstand 12 hours a day of digging in a blazing sun; they swat mosquitoes and sand flies by the thousand; and they can accept sleeping in tents and bunk beds for many days at a time. This isn’t your leisure trip, but the advanced archaeologist still loves it.