It’s an inherent part of human nature that people love to hear about discoveries. Finding the sunken Titanic after 70 years. Uncovering Tutankhamen’s tomb hidden in plain sight in the Valley of Kings for 4,000 years. Franklin, Watson and Crick’s discovery of DNA. Even finding your lost car keys! Each of these brings a thrill in their own way.
This curiosity and wonder that resides in each of us—and the desire to share that incredible feeling—is what sparked the creation of Ancient Odysseys. The great fun of it is, that the concept behind Ancient Odysseys is different and instantly gets people curious. After all, it’s not every day that a company gets to talk about dinosaurs and the lost city of Atlantis with a straight face (and huge smiles!)
It started with a dinosaur dig
Really. After searching the internet for an exciting new adventure, we found the chance to go on a dinosaur dig in Wyoming. That first year was a Triceratops. Then Hadrosaurs followed. Toss in a mammoth tusk from a construction site and stir with the found club tail of an Ankylosaur. It’s hard NOT to talk about these fun discoveries and projects at dinner parties. Heads inevitably swiveled our way and we heard the same comment over and over, “I never knew you could go on a dinosaur dig without being a scientist.” Well, yes, yes you can.
Yes, you can go on a dinosaur dig (and fossil digs and archaeology digs too)
The interest in this unique form of citizen science got us thinking. Instead of just sharing our stories, why not share the fun by finding a way to tell people how to experience this type of discovery themselves? So, we created Ancient Odysseys as a web portal that allows travelers to find active paleontological and archaeological digs on which to participate. We also decided to partner with travel companies to offer unique itineraries to complement each dig location.
“Sounds like a cool project! I like the idea of having a portal that brings together volunteers with scientific excavations, as opposed to commercial digs.” Associate Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology
Helping the researchers
Our efforts to share how to go on exciting discoveries had another goal as well. The fields of archaeology and paleontology are not well-funded. When you read news about dinosaurs selling for millions of dollars, that money doesn’t go to the scientists, but to commercial dinosaur hunters who are out for a profit. The majority of researchers struggle for funding, so connecting paying travelers with digs and excavations can be a lifeline. That means that paying participants help paleontologists and archaeologists get more access to assistance and another way to fund for their work.
It's a win-win for travelers and researchers
How do travelers benefit?
Hands-on, active learning experiences
Citizen science, accompanied by scientists
Coolest vacation ever
How do researchers benefit?
Additional hands-on assistance
Funds to cover current and future research
Opportunity to extend fieldwork season when not relying on college summer vacation months
We’ve introduced new options to scientists
As Ancient Odysseys began “unearthing” different excavations, we discovered something interesting. Accepting paid volunteers is a pretty new concept to many researchers, but a welcome one. Most rely on students and other researchers to man their expeditions and they have the infrastructure in place to accommodate people. That means they also have food, tools and sometimes accommodations for other people as well. Once realization kicks in, so does the creativity.
A movement is born
We are hoping our efforts lead to a positive impact on the fields of paleontology and archaeology. More volunteers could mean more digs. More digs would need more hands. And, suddenly, we all have the ability to help discover new artifacts and new species, which in turn will help us learn more about those the preceded us on this planet, and maybe a little something about ourselves too.
Ancient Odysseys is just beginning
Movements take time and effort, but we are on a mission to encourage travelers to participate in citizen science while bringing meaningful change to the fields of archaeology and paleontology.
We hope you will help us spread the word
Please encourage others to join our mailing list to hear about new excavations and projects, many of which will be available for the first time on our website. And if you know any researchers who are looking for assistance, please refer them to us. After all, the more citizen-science minded travelers we can match up with research-based digs around the world, the more we all benefit and nourish our desire to discover. Let’s all “dig into the adventure” together!