Do you have a sedentary job? Would you like a vacation that’s more physically active, but doesn’t (necessarily) involve sports or sightseeing? How about one that puts you in touch with the past – literally? Then it’s time to consider an archaeological vacation.
You don’t have to have training or experience in the field of archeology. You won’t be taking long courses (unless you’re in a college-level program, of course) with papers and exams. What you will be doing is helping with a “dig” – the uncovering of an old – possibly ancient – archaeological site. That’s why these trips are sometimes called “excavation vacations.”
A really popular program is the “Dig for a Day” held at a huge site near Jerusalem. For a small fee you get to spend three hours sifting through dirt and rubble looking for 2,000-year-old artifacts. It can be really exciting to find and hold in your hands an actual piece of the past. And if your family comes from that area, you could even be holding a piece of your own past.
“Dig for a Day” is well-planned and easy enough to be done by children as well as adults. In fact, it’s a great way for all members of the family to participate in the same activity while they’re on vacation. All the tedious steps performed afterwards – the cleaning, examination, and cataloging required of all artifacts – is covered by the fee and done by professionals. This fee, small as it is, helps make this dig one of the few self-supporting sites in the world.
The site in Israel isn’t the only one that allows “civilians” to help with a dig. There are many others scattered around the world, including several in the United States. So you may not have to travel far from home to do your digging.
Plus, these kinds of vacations can be a great way to support a charity. Many excavation sites are non-profit and can’t afford the numbers of people really needed to efficiently work on them, so volunteers are greatly appreciated. Just remember to bring clothes that wash easily!
If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, there are also archaeological vacations that are oriented more toward traditional sightseeing. There are two big differences, though. You’ll be visiting the sites of ancient – instead of modern – civilizations. And instead of tour guides you’ll have scholars – experts in that particular field – giving the presentations.
Archaeological vacations can give you an opportunity to experience up close the way people lived many centuries ago. But more than that, they can be a great way to get in touch with your cultural or religious roots.