Kids Dig Archaeology Blog

Seeing Underground

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

This week we are going to look at different ways that archaeologists can see underground in order to have some idea of where sites are located and where they should EXCAVATE if needed.  Excavation is just a big, fancy word for digging in a very organized manner, recording everything along the way.  Next post we will learn more about excavation.


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


There are many ways archaeologists can decide where to dig.  Sometimes, there are obvious remains like artifacts, structural features, or even a whole building that can be seen on the surface of the ground.  You can’t miss those ancient Egyptian pyramids!  Other times, farmers, builders or even animals may accidentally uncover remains from the past.

But when the past really is buried, archaeologists must search for clues like unusual mounds, ditches, or soil marks that would indicate there is something under the surface in need of investigation.

Did you know that crops will grow taller over a ditch, and shorter over a mound?







These types of features may be spotted using aerial photography from DRONES, or looking at old photos, books, and maps of the land.  Or they be identified in person when conducting a pedestrian survey.  A PEDESTRIAN SURVEY is a way archaeologists will map an area by walking a grid looking for exposed artifacts and other features.


Ground penetrating radar (GPR) is used to locate artifacts and features hidden below the surface. That’s like having superhero x-ray vision!

So how do some archaeological sites get buried in the first place?  Things left on the ground get buried over time, leaves can fall on it, dust and debris blow onto it, and rain can cause dirt to cover it.  Sometimes larger natural forces and disasters can cause this to happen quickly instead of over many years.  Just think – after thousands of years, items left behind can be deep in the ground.


Read a bit more about Seeing Underground. Can you decide where to dig?

Wiltshire, England

Fun Facts:
The main circle at Stonehenge was built around 2500 BC, however the first monuments date to 5,000 years ago.  Two types of stones are used, smaller bluestones and larger sarsens.  The larger sarsen stones weigh over 48,000 pounds! Can you believe it? No wonder there is an old myth that Stonehenge was built by giants.

Read more about Stonehenge here and here.

Want to learn more?

Check out:

Dig Deeper: How Do Archaeologists Know Where to Dig?
Archaeology 101 Exhibit

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.