Kids Dig Archaeology Blog

Underwater Detectives

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

Did you know that archaeologists not only work on land, but underwater as well?  Does it surprise you that underwater archaeological excavation is similar to traditional land archaeology?

MARINE or UNDERWATER ARCHAEOLOGISTS use many of the same tools as those working on land.  Hand trowels, square units, clipboards, pencils, tape measures, compasses, and other hand tools are all used underwater.



Do you know where the statue pictured at the top was found?
Scroll down to find out!


Although many of the tools may be the same, archaeologists also need very specialized tools to work underwater.  Rather than shoveling dirt into a bucket for screening, marine archaeologists use a hose connected to an engine that sucks up ocean sediment like a vacuum cleaner.  The sediment is then deposited on a large floating screen at the water’s surface.

Sometimes they even use EXOSUITS!  These are mechanical suits that allow archaeologists to safely dive deeper underwater.  Check out all the cool features of this high-tech suit here.

SHIPWRECKS are the most common type of underwater site studied.  Other types investigated include flooded land sites and fishing structures.  Read more here about why archaeologists study shipwrecks.




near Alexandria, Egypt

©Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation, photo: Christoph Gerigk

Fun Facts:

Thonis-Heracleion (the Egyptian and Greek names of the city) was probably founded in the 8th century BCE, and after multiple natural catastrophes, sunk in the 8th century CE.  Over 700 ancient anchors from more than 70 shipwrecks were found here.  The picture shows archaeologists Franck Goddio and his team inspecting the large granite statue of a pharaoh before bringing it to the surface.  It measured over 15 feet  and weighed 5.5 tons!

Read and watch more about Thonis-Heracleion  here, here, and here.

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.