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What Is Involved in Archaeology Training?

Archaeology training involves rigorous academic study and fieldwork. Students learn to excavate, analyze artifacts, and interpret historical data. They also study human culture, biology, and geology. This multidisciplinary approach provides a comprehensive understanding of our past. But how does this training prepare them for real-world archaeological projects?
Angela Farrer
Angela Farrer

Archaeology training typically involves a combination of college classroom learning and practical experience at field sites. Many aspiring archaeologists first get this needed experience assisting seasoned professionals. Archeology jobs typically require at least a four-year undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline, such as anthropology, geology, or history. The exact coursework involved in archaeology training often depends on the specific areas of the field that an archaeology student wishes to study in depth. Archaeologist training at dig sites usually includes instruction in how to recover, preserve, and catalog various types of artifacts.

College degree programs often provide a good foundation for archaeology training. Regardless of the type of archaeology studied, students typically take courses in mathematics, technical writing, biology, and chemistry. Those who plan to study archaeology specialties such as classical or prehistoric archaeology usually need to complete advanced classes in subjects such as ancient history, geology, physical geography, and sociology. Some future archaeologists are interested in recovering and studying artifacts from a particular culture. A significant portion of their archaeology training includes studying that culture's languages, customs, history, and interactions with the rest of the world.

Archaeologists are usually trained in excavation techniques that enable sensitive items, like mummies, to be removed from a site without being damaged.
Archaeologists are usually trained in excavation techniques that enable sensitive items, like mummies, to be removed from a site without being damaged.

Field work is an important part of archaeology training for those who plan to pursue this career field. This type of work is usually open to students who are nearly finished with their degree programs. Practical archaeology field training frequently covers topics such as carbon dating, erosion patterns, and methods of preserving recovered human bones and animal bones. Many advanced archaeology students also learn the technology relevant to the field, including geographic information systems (GIS) and some three-dimensional software programs used to present the details of some artifacts. Thorough archaeology training generally prepares students to be historians as well as scientists.

Megalithic sites like Stonehenge are often used to acquaint archaeology students with prehistory.
Megalithic sites like Stonehenge are often used to acquaint archaeology students with prehistory.

Communication and diplomacy are additional important areas of archaeology training particularly for the study of different cultures. Experienced archaeologists need to be able to excavate certain areas according to the laws of different regions, and this type of field work sometimes requires government permission. Some specialists such as Egyptologists collaborate with one another in several different languages. Any type of archaeologist also learns how to present findings to diverse audiences, so strong written and spoken communication skills in more than one language are often helpful. Depending on their specialty fields, some archaeologists also acquire skills in web design, photography, and image editing in order to create dynamic presentations of their latest found artifacts.

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    • Archaeologists are usually trained in excavation techniques that enable sensitive items, like mummies, to be removed from a site without being damaged.
      By: Tatty
      Archaeologists are usually trained in excavation techniques that enable sensitive items, like mummies, to be removed from a site without being damaged.
    • Megalithic sites like Stonehenge are often used to acquaint archaeology students with prehistory.
      By: Gail Johnson
      Megalithic sites like Stonehenge are often used to acquaint archaeology students with prehistory.
    • Mesoamerican archaeological sites, such as the ruins of Machu Picchu, are often studied by American archaeology programs.
      By: Bryan Busovicki
      Mesoamerican archaeological sites, such as the ruins of Machu Picchu, are often studied by American archaeology programs.
    • Archaeology training might include field training.
      By: Denis Topal
      Archaeology training might include field training.
    • Many universities offer internships in laboratory archaeology.
      By: Paco Ayala
      Many universities offer internships in laboratory archaeology.