No picture can do justice to the grand view from Mt. Ebal, the highest summit in northern Samaria. No text can set the pulse racing the way the discovery of a new destruction layer can. And no scholarly argument alone can be as convincing as seeing a site for yourself. By volunteering to dig at an archaeological excavation, however, you can behold the views, experience the thrill and satisfaction of discovery and learn about the evidence at firsthand.
But there is a price to pay, and it costs more than dollars. No, you will not face the romanticized dangers of an Indiana Jones, but rather the real-life, meticulous, physical labor required by a modern excavation. You may wield a pick, sift the earth, wash potsherds or do any number of other tasks, all of them important to the success of a dig. The amenities include living in a tent (or perhaps in a dormitory, a youth hostel or, in a few cases, a hotel), eating camp food, getting covered with dust every day, starting work early in the morning to beat the sun and stopping work when the sun’s heat finally wins.
Yet hundreds of volunteers, from college students to vigorous retirees—all kinds of people from all over the world—pay this price every year. Whatever their occupations, they become, for a short but precious time, archaeologists. They think it a small price to pay to fulfill a dream. If you harbor the same dream, why not join them? All you need is an interest in Biblical archaeology, good physical condition and a willingness to work.