Every year, thousands of excavation volunteers travel around the globe to find something new from the ancient world. And every year, those same volunteers return home with a new or rekindled passion for travel, adventure and discovery. They are inevitably met with a host of questions from friends and family, including the incredulous, “You loved a summer digging in the dirt under a hot Mediterranean sun?” The budding archaeologist responds, “Absolutely—it was an incredible experience,” often followed immediately by “I want to go back.”
A volunteer’s first field season promises a taste of discovery, camaraderie and a set of lifelong memories. By the end of the season, these excavators have experienced the thrill of holding the past in their hands and the rewards of their hard labor. For some, the first taste is not enough. Many are drawn back to their excavation season after season, because the deeperthey dig, the more in tune they feel with themselves, their academic goals, their archaeological community and their own sense of exploration.