What Are the Different Types of Archaeology Internships?

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  • Written By: Amy Rodriguez
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 22 February 2020
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The two main types of archaeology internships are either field or laboratory positions. Each internship type provides a different view of the overall archaeological undergraduate degree, such as finding historical artifacts and categorizing them. It is possible to perform both internships consecutively for a well-rounded educational experience.

Field archaeology internships are the well-known excavation projects that uncover buried bones or other human artifacts, like pots and tools. Interns will learn proper brushing techniques to preserve the artifacts' integrity while slowly removing them from the ground. Along with physical discovery, interns normally take extensive notes and learn to use a camera effectively to record the detailed excavation process from many angles.

One important hands-on duty during field archaeology internships is learning how to use measuring instrumentation, such as a total station. These instruments require a lot of practice to record the angular position and dimensions of the excavated area; the devices are also used to determine the extent of the excavation, such as boundary lines and ground elevations. Experienced archaeologists typically work alongside the interns to ensure that all instrumentation data is correct and accurate.

Laboratory archaeology internships are mainly found at college universities or museums. Much of the historical discovery work is performed in a controlled environment; interns may use specialized cleaning agents to remove impurities from excavated artifacts to observe the object's true exterior surface. Markings and engravings are typically photographed and analyzed for historical purposes.


Computer and database work is common in laboratory archaeology internships; each artifact needs to be labeled and categorized within the facility's main database. Entering extensive amounts of data into the computer requires strict attention to detail to prevent costly mistakes. Some interns may have certain batches of data analyzed before they proceed further to make sure that all the artifacts are correctly entered into the database.

Museum workers normally organize artifacts for public display. A large animal skeleton will need to be pieced together accurately for display purposes; the intern will oversee the skeleton's construction and correct any problematic bone connections. Additionally, interns will verify the historical accuracy of newly created displays within the museum. For example, a historical Mayan pot will not be placed in the Aztecs display; the intern must make sure that artifacts are not displayed in an incorrect manner.

Many college degree programs stipulate that both internships must be completed for graduation requirements. Both laboratory and field work offers prospective graduates a glimpse of possible future career choices. The majority of archaeological employers prefer candidates with both types of internship experiences.


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