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.

Archaeology Lab Positions

Volunteers will prepare one or more archaeological collections for curation. Center staff will instruct the volunteer on archaeological laboratory procedures such as basic artifact analysis, manual and computer cataloging, storage requirements, and preventative conservation.

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.

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.