Passport in Time
August 13, 2003 8:30 AM   Subscribe

Passport in Time is a volunteer program of the USDA Forest Service where you can be a real-life archaeologist for a week or just a weekend. There are projects located around the country, around the calendar. With no previous experience, you can help professional archaeologists survey and excavate sites ranging in age from the early 1900s back to the paleolithic. Myself, I helped excavate Pueblo de la Mesa, a pre-Columbian Anasazi site atop a lonely mesa in New Mexico.
posted by ewagoner (12 comments total)
Oh sure, you get to do the back-breaking labour part of being a real-life archaeologist. What about the nazis, the fedoras, the bullwhips?

I'd be willing to do this though if my rapidly failing company didn't use up all my vacation time in forced time offs (which they admitted don't really save the company any money)
posted by substrate at 8:38 AM on August 13, 2003

There really is no end to American Archaeology. Both continents are filled to the brim with thousands of years of information, a giant question mark looming over it all. From immense ancient cities, like Tikal in Guatemala, to excavating enormous wars, such as the unnamed one that resulted in what is now almost the entire State of Kentucky being declared a "neutral zone" between northern and southern warring tribes.
The 100+ year old excavation at Chaco Canyon, NM, the Chicago of a the year 1000, the midpoint of a trading route from New England and Florida to South America.
Genetic traces of the ancient Japanese(!) among the Zuni Indians of New Mexico.

When the conquistadores met the Incas and commented on their magnificent cities made of thousand-pound blocks of stone, and asked them how on earth they built such magnificent edifices, the Incas just laughed. "We didn't build them, we just found them."

There are known to be entire buried cities that can't be excavated for want of money and labor.
posted by kablam at 8:50 AM on August 13, 2003

COOL! Thanks, ewagoner. I've never heard of this program, and it sounds fascinating.

If I do go on one of these digs, I'm definitely bringing my Einstein plushie.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:01 AM on August 13, 2003

As a card-carrying archaeologist in Nevada, I can report that all the "cool" stuff about doing archaeology, ie, bullwhips, car chases, and Evil Nazis, is pretty overrated. The fact is, only circus performers can use a bullwhip without taking an ear off (usually ones own), not everyone looks good in a fedora, and Evil Nazis are, well, EVIL.. and mean too!

Frivolity aside, Passport in Time is a great program and worth checking out, even if us professional archaeologists wince every time people inevitably ask us how many dinosaurs we've excavated. : - )
posted by elendil71 at 9:41 AM on August 13, 2003

BTW, Sidhedevil, if you're gonna hang with archaeologists, you need to bring your Cthulhu plushie...... way more apropos.
posted by elendil71 at 9:54 AM on August 13, 2003

Ia! Cthulhu fthagn!

I would be afraid to get even a plushie Cthulhu that close to an Archeological Site of Great Power, for fear it would come to life and Walk Among Us.

That's when the bullwhips come in handy.

Einstein, on the other hand, is good to cuddle with when it's dark and scary out.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:04 AM on August 13, 2003

I second elendil's praise of PIT. I spent an evening with a PIT crew working at a site near Lake Tahoe, and it was insanely interesting. They did a good job of providing lectures and tours in the evenings and off-hours, on the history and context of the what was being excavated.
posted by claxton6 at 10:29 AM on August 13, 2003

Hehehe. Never fear, Sidhedevil, most of us Archs are pretty competent sorcerers when we're not too drunk.

As it turns out, most of the Great Old Ones can be appeased through the judicious ritual sacrifice of Irish whiskey. Cthulhu himself , I understand, prefers Scotch, which he would doubtless seek if he Awoke in the Form of my Plushie Avatar.

Ok, enuff topic derailing....
posted by elendil71 at 10:33 AM on August 13, 2003

"Archeologists: be don't get benefits, we get drunk."
posted by Hackworth at 10:36 AM on August 13, 2003

Cthulhu? When I was a young undergrad on the path towards becoming an archaeologist, there was a lot more Old Style at archy events than there were Old Ones.

I didn't fulfill that path though. I loved fieldwork but the ship of my archaeological career foundered upon the dreaded LAB WORK.
posted by ursus_comiter at 11:12 AM on August 13, 2003

But now I'm going to beg my partner to come with me to a PIT project.
posted by ursus_comiter at 11:13 AM on August 13, 2003

hmm, kablam inches closer to his yaqui confessions:

Still, the pertinent G. C. Edmondson questions await...

*fingertips drumming on tabletop*
posted by y2karl at 9:34 PM on August 13, 2003

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