Uncovering the Stories of our Past: What does it Mean to Join an Archaeology Research Project?


The first thing that comes to mind when people think about archaeology is, well let’s be honest, Indiana Jones.  Dig a little deeper and if dinosaurs aren’t mentioned (paleontology = dinosaurs) most will mention digging or excavation– which is just one piece of the project puzzle.

Generally speaking, archaeology research begins with an assessment of what evidence from the past might have survived the elements of time.  At AFAR, each of the four sites of study began with large amounts of historical background research, progressed into excavation, and conclude annually with some sort of report to add to the site’s archaeological record.  AFAR students have the ability to be involved in each of the steps of archaeological research but all participate in the summer excavations where the fun, hard work and stories unfold. And that’s why it’s so important to take our teams of pre-collegiate students to work alongside professional archaeologists in the field every summer to learn what  hands-on field research is all about while contributing to the story of our past.

Whether joining our project in Belize, Spain, Portugal or Greece, here’s what it means for you to join an organization like AFAR and what you’ll take away:

  • You’re an integral part of a professional research team filled with leading scholars from top research universities;

  • You’ll help write the history of the ancient past through our discoveries;

  • You have the opportunity to experience genuine discovery while participating in authentic scientific research;

  • You’ll leave with excellent note taking skills;

  • Your help to uncover monumental architecture and artifacts allow future generations to enjoy;

  • You have the opportunity to attend and present  research at professional conferences as well as contribute  to written publications;

  • You’ll leave with life-changing, ever-lasting memories made with friends and colleagues

  • Lastly, you will walk away with a huge sense of pride and accomplishment for being part of something with such historical impact


When doing field research the lines often blur between work and play.  Because each host country is rich in cultural treasures (and since research is demanding daily work!) we also plan excursions to help broaden each student’s understanding of the history in each country.  

It’s our hope that students leave as global citizen with an appreciation for cultural diversity and ancient cultural heritage experience in research.

ResearchSherri Johnson