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How long are archaeology and paleontology digs and where do I stay?

Updated: Sep 27, 2022

Paleontology and archaeology digs vary in length and accommodation options. Each scientist and researcher running excavations has their own requirements and ways of doing things.

This means that the number of days that paid volunteers are asked to work in the field, the minimum age of participants, and the access to accommodations varies from site to site.

Number of days you'll work on a paleontology or archaeology dig

The scientists themselves usually spend weeks and even months out in the field working to collect material to study and understand. However, most scientists only expect volunteers to come for a few days or a week. That’s because most travelers and volunteers have neither the time nor the desire to work for weeks on end in what can be hard circumstances. There are some 1-day dig options to allow you to experience what a day in the life of a paleontologist or archaeologist is really like. Some kid-friendly digs allow paid participants to go out for as little as an hour or half a day.

Other sites require a 3 to 7 day commitment which will give you the chance to experience the full array of different tasks needed to find, excavate, collect, clean and catalog material. But really, there are all different dig lengths for whatever your interest level.

Accommodations on paleontology digs and archaeology digs

If you're considering going on a multi-day dig, you’re probably wondering where you'll be staying. This varies widely from site to site with each having different options ranging from:

1. Hotels and motels—Some sites have hotels and motels close by. But check pricing closely since accommodations may or may not be included in the costs.

2. Dormitories, trailers or cabins—You are housed within four walls, with other people. These options range from group dormitories to air-conditioned trailers and everything in between. You still might need to bring your own bedding, towels, etc.

3. Camping—Camping comes in a few varieties. Some locations are really rustic and require that you bring your own tent, sleeping bag and towels. There are some camping options where the dig site provides you with a tent and sleeping bag. Campsites are usually right at the dig site or fairly close by so that you can walk or be driven there. Food, water and snacks are usually provided with camping options, since it’s hard to haul your own food into camping locations. Access to showers and bathroom facilities at campsites is not guaranteed.

A note about bathrooms during the workday

Working out in the field on an archaeology or paleontology dig usually means you are at a location that is not close enough to running water and shelter. If you are lucky, some sites arrange for port-a-potties or camping toilets, but usually, the great outdoors is your only option.

Food, snacks and water

Almost without fail, any dig experience that is over three hours in length will provide you with food, snacks and water. For digs of longer durations, like 3-5 days, you may even get all meals included, so always check what the costs cover. You’ll find an array of options including:

1. All food, snacks and water provided in the cost

2. Some meals and snacks provided. This could mean daily lunch is provided, but you’re on your own for breakfast and dinner

3. Bring your own

Interested in experiencing your first archaeology dig or paleontology dig? Dig into the adventure this year!

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