• Name: Paul McLerran
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Saturday, February 19, 2005


Perhaps, like many of us, the closest you have come to actually being on a dig was watching Indiana Jones do it in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or watching one of those well-scripted documentaries by National Geographic. In case you are thinking about it, here are 10 good reasons to try it first-hand:

1. If you want to go somewhere “foreign”, it is a good excuse to take that unusual vacation to an exotic location and really have something to “write home about” and share with friends and family. You have one mortal life on this planet. Do something exciting.

2. There is something to be said for making new, lasting friendships with people who have a common interest. The strong group and teamwork aspect of a dig makes it difficult to avoid this. You won’t take your house or your car with you when you leave this world, but friendships and memories go with you.

3. It is satisfying to know that you are part of something larger than yourself, and that your contribution is making some difference. Digging, sorting and processing finds, and recording data leaves your mark on the effort.

4. Education is a lifelong endeavor. An archaeological excavation offers the opportunity for everyone to learn and gain new skills, regardless of age or station in life. You don’t need a Ph.D. to be a dig volunteer – only a willingness to learn and work with others as a team….and you get to hob-nob with the professors and dig directors.

5. You have the chance to help develop a cultural resource that will benefit a surrounding community and enrich the lives of the local population, both in terms of the tourism it could bring and the employment it could generate. Not a bad way to give back to the world community.

6. Being a part of a scientific expedition distills a sense of importance that can't be matched by a traditional vacation.

7. It is just plain fun, in addition to the “meat and potatoes” work of the day, to experience the interesting evening lectures, field trips, and the many cultural and recreational amenities that the host country or community has to offer. This is another memory builder.

8. For most of us, an archaeological dig will be an “out of the box” experience. It will broaden the mind a little more.

9. If you are out on the dig long enough, you will no doubt learn some things about yourself that you didn’t know before. This will be different for each person.

10. Finally, it is the next best thing to time travel. There is a pure thrill about holding something in your hand or touching an ancient wall that was left in place long ago. It has a story to tell about the person or group who left it there. The context of the find will say something, but the rest is still a mystery. In a very real way, you are making or amending history.

Read what an
excavation director has to say about why diggers dig.

Read what a volunteer has to say about her own experience on a dig.

Here is a HUGE listing of Dig and Tour Opportunities for 2005


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