DIGS: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
For basic information on Archaeology on this web page, please click here.

1. How can I participate in a dig?

It is essential that you be a member of FOSA to participate in archaeological excavations. Once you express an interest in participating in an excavation, you will be placed on the emailing list for field-work participants for future notification.


2. When, and how long, are digs scheduled for?

FOSA members participate in digs that are usually needed at relatively small sites where there is no money available to pay a contract archaeologist. The urgency of the excavation and the site characteristics determine the amount of time needed at the site to salvage all pertinent information. This could be 1 or more days a week. Hours are generally 9:00AM to 3:00PM.


3. What should I bring with me?   What should I wear?

For starters, figure that you're going to get dirty and sweaty ... since you'll be working outside, probably in the hot sun. Wear stout shoes, and whatever else is appropriate for the time of year and the projected weather. In the fall, you should dress in layers.

As for equipment, bring a 5-inch triangular "Marshalltown" or similar masonry trowel, a shovel of a spade type, a 1- inch paint brush, a metal or plastic dustpan, an English-metric tape measure, a clipboard and pencil, and if possible a line level (one that can be clipped to a string). Having tick spray and insect repellent available is strongly suggested.

Other items would include a regular shovel (long handled would be better than short), a raincoat if there's any chance of rain (just in case), a whisk broom, hand clippers for trimming roots, work gloves, knee pads (esp. for the more mature volunteers), a sweatband for your forehead, and a bucket. A brown fedora is optional; however, a bullwhip is probably unnecessary (this is, after all, Connecticut).

Note that most items you'll need to participate will be available from the dig supervisor on-site. However, it's suggested you bring the things in the first group at a minimum, just in case there isn't enough to go around.

Lastly, you should also consider bringing a folding chair and lunch. And bring plenty of water!


4. OK, what about going potty?

Good question. The location of any given excavation site will vary; meaning that you could find yourself in the middle of a construction site, an abandoned field, on a hill/mountain, or in the woods. Nevertheless, if sanitary facilities are not available on-site, there will be some close by.


5. What about souvenirs?

No souvenirs. No exceptions.


6. Will our site excavation results be available on this FOSA web site?

No. FOSA exists to assist the Office of State Archaeology in its excavation and related activities. However, all information resulting from excavations is filed in the archives of the OSA and the Connecticut Archaeology Center at the University of Connecticut. Artifacts found on private property belong to the owner of the site; and are distributed at their discretion.

Information on collections available on the web can be accessed starting at the CAC web site, by clicking .


7. How many sites are there in Connecticut?   Why can't we more easily get information about them?

Perhaps surprisingly, over 5,000 archaeological sites are listed in the Connecticut site files These sites date from over 11,000 years ago and the first peopling of the state, up to 50 years ago. However, many of them no longer exist: they're now buried under highways or other constructions, excavated away, lost to natural activities (e.g., erosion), and so forth. Others are on private property and are not publicly available.

The OSA does maintain an database of sites in Connecticut; however, while site information is available, sites' locations will often be restricted. Further, depending on the site, some restrictions may be placed on who gets to see various parts of the documentation.

A primary reason for these restrictions is to prevent information getting out to potential site looters. Also, many of these sites are on private property whose owners do not want information to be made available.

That said, a new web site, Digging Into the Past, discusses several Connecticut sites. It's put out by the Institute for American Indian Studies. In this site you'll find information on 9 sites, as well as a number of archaeologically- related topics.

There are a number of archaeological sites in Connecticut which have been designated State Archaeological Preserves. Informational booklets on many of these are available. For a listing of these sites, please access the Connecticut Archaeological Preserves page by clicking ..   If you have specific questions about archaeological sites in your area, it would be best to access the Connecticut Archaeological Center to start your inquiries. You can do so by clicking .


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What Is Archaeology?

Archaeology is the scientific study of peoples of the past: their culture and their relationship with the environment. The purpose of archaeology is to understand how humans in the past interacted with their environment, their material culture (artifacts), and each other; and to preserve this history for the present and the future.


A Summary of What Archaeologists Do


A Summary of What Archaeologists DON'T Do


Where Can I Learn More About Archaeology?

There are a number of reference materials available and suggested in this web site, delineated in the "Research Aids" page of this web site, which you can access by clicking .

Attendance at the Adult Field School and Student Field School will provide an excellent grounding in the basics of archaeology through hands-on work.

Note that Dr. Jones also heads up a Educators Field School, whose contents are geared towards educators teaching history or social science.

Note: As part of the Adult Field School, Dr. Jones will generally present a series of slides which provide the attendees with an introduction to the basics of Archaeology. In February, 2013, these slides were incorporated into the "Special Features" section of this web site, which you can access directly by clicking .

It should be noted, however, that while this web site will provide a (very) high-level overview of Archaeological activities and resources, it should not be looked upon as an introductory "Archaeology 101" source. Rather, if you are interested in gaining a more in-depth understanding of archaeology (outside of a degree program, of course), we encourage you to investigate local community colleges and online course listings for archaeology-related courses and materials.

In addition, FOSA members Gary Nolf and Don Rankin present the "Connecticut Archaeology Road Show" to museums, historical societies and libraries, to promote an understanding and respect for Connecticut archaeology. Talks include the geology of Connecticut and how it impacted Native Americans living there, a history of the activities and methods of the area's hunters and gatherers, and a discussion of Uncas and the Pequot War. To see a half-hour video of Gary and Don discussing the Road Show on an episode of Branford Public Television's "Classroom Connections" show, please click .

Lastly, interested viewers should take advantage of opportunities noted in our Upcoming Events page, for trips and workshops offered by both FOSA and other groups.

An example of the latter occurred in April, 2014, when FOSA members attended a workshop offered by the Museum of Connecticut Glass, in which Museum members gave talks and demonstrations of the glassmaking process in this state from the 17th thru the 19th century. Pictures of this trip can be found on the Glass Museum's website, which can be accessed by clicking .