Kids Dig Archaeology Blog

It’s a Crime!

Dr. Arty Fax’s Archy Facts is a weekly blog introducing kids (currently stuck at home) to the exciting world of archaeology!

As summer approaches, many of us may find ourselves out and about in nature.  Do you love camping and hiking?  I sure do!  There are many ways to enjoy the outdoors and most people know the principles of Leave No Trace.  These include not leaving our trash, staying on marked trails, not picking flowers, and respecting wildlife.  However, did you know that this applies to archaeological finds as well?

What should you do if you come across an artifact while on a hike?


Do you know what archaeological site is pictured at the top?
Scroll down to find out!


LOOTING is the illegal destruction of archaeological sites through the non-scientific removal of artifacts, or simply stealing artifacts. Thieves of history have been looting artifacts from archaeological site around the world for thousands of years.  Even in the United States, people dig in national parks and elsewhere to steal artifacts like stone tools and pottery to sell illegally.  There are international laws against looting, but they can be difficult to enforce.

These artifacts are irreplaceable, and even more importantly, provide clues to the histories of many cultures.  Taking even ONE artifact from a site can be very destructive.  Archaeology depends on context to tell the story of the past.  CONTEXT is the relationship of all artifacts to each other and to the site where they are found.



Think of artifacts and context like a puzzle.

If you have one puzzle piece, can you tell what the picture is? Does it mean anything by itself? No and No.  It’s just a puzzle piece.  That is just like, for example, an arrowhead that is collected along a hike. A single artifact alone loses much of its meaning without context



All the other artifacts at a site are like the other pieces that complete the puzzle. You may not see all of them when you are out walking, but by removing just one, you ruin the puzzle



So what should you do if you find an artifact? LEAVE IT IN PLACE.  If you are in a park or other public land, you can tell a ranger or other responsible adult.

In short, should you keep artifacts?  NO!

Artifacts can be found in many places in San Diego, in canyons, mountains, and even the city. If you keep an artifact you find, an important piece of San Diego’s history will be lost forever. Archaeologists need to know exactly where an artifact was found to understand everything about it. They can’t use an artifact that came out of your pocket.

If you find an artifact, look at it, enjoy it, but don’t move or disturb it. Leave it exactly where you found it. You can take a picture of it too, and then you’ll have it to look at later. If you find paintings or etchings on rocks, never touch them or add paint to them. Never disturb Native American places or historic spots. Tell a park ranger or another official about the artifact you saw. They may want to protect it further.

Archy Facts @ HOME ACTIVITYDecipher this Secret Code

Moai Stone Statues
Easter Island

Fun Facts:
The are about 1,000 Moai statues located mostly along the coast and were carved between 1250 and 1500 CE.  Although commonly referred to as “heads,” many have full bodies.  The average Moai stands about 13 feet high and weighs almost 14 tons!

Read more about the Moai here and here.

Want to learn more?

Check out:

Volunteers work in the Center’s Research Library, cataloguing materials and organizing on a computer-based system.

Marketing and Administrative Volunteers assist the Development Office or Administration Office with data entry, updating marketing materials and clerical tasks. Computer experience is a plus.

Docents welcome visitors and answer general questions regarding the Center and exhibits. Docents staff the gift shop and help out with administrative and curatorial tasks.

Volunteers support event activities at the Center, such as the Annual BBQ, lectures, workshops, and fundraising events. Be a part of the party!

Volunteer provide support for K-12 programs offered at the Center. These are fun, hands-on programs that kids really enjoy. Teaching experience is a plus, but not required. Background checks are required.


With the assistance of Center staff, the intern will use photogrammetry to prepare one or more archaeological collections for digital preservation, as well as create a virtual museum exhibit for our Public Archaeology department. Per approval, special projects of the intern’s choosing are also available. During the research and planning, the intern will receive guidance as appropriate to their selected project. Prospective interns should already be familiar with photogrammetric procedures, and Agisoft Metashape.

Collections Management

With the assistance of Center staff, the intern will prepare one or more archaeological collections for curation. During the course of the internship, the intern will learn to identify artifacts and ecofacts common to the San Diego region, including lithics, ceramics, historical objects, and faunal, botanical, and mineral specimens. Center staff will instruct the intern on archaeological laboratory procedures such as basic artifact analysis, manual and computer cataloguing, storage requirements, and preventative conservation. In addition, the intern will become familiar with historical trends in archaeological practice in the San Diego area and will be introduced to current legal and ethical issues in archaeological curation as well as the concerns and rights of culturally affiliated groups with regard to archaeological materials.

Development and Marketing

Under the direction of Center staff, the intern will support the department in various activities, including, but not limited to, fundraising and grant research; e-newsletter development; social media marketing; and website maintenance. This internship will give the intern valuable, real-world experience in non-profit fundraising and marketing.

Geographical Information Systems in Archaeology

Prospective Interns must have completed three courses: Introduction to GIS, GIS Database Management, and Intermediate/Advanced Methods in GIS. The intern will be assigned a project where they will create shapefiles and maps for curated archaeological collections, museum exhibits, and/or public outreach using ArcGIS 10.6. Center staff will instruct the intern on archaeological GIS laboratory procedures such as computer cataloguing, storage requirements, and database management.

Library Science

With the assistance of Center staff, the intern will arrange and catalog materials in the Center’s library. During the course of the internship, the intern will take a leading role in the cataloging, sorting and storing of research files and creating user guides for these collections. Center staff will instruct the intern on archival procedures, computer cataloging, storage requirements, and preventative conservation.

Public Archaeology

Harness your passion for Public Archaeology and gain hands-on experience with K-12 museum field trips, lectures, and public outreach. Additional projects may include creating virtual museum exhibits and activities, assisting in the development and implementation of K-12 curricula programs, planning and presenting public facing content, or educational field trip content of your own design. Must be able to pass a Live Scan.