Agora Excavation Volunteers

ASCSA Response to COVID-19

 

The American School of Classical Studies at Athens conducts a program for volunteers wishing to participate in the archaeological excavations of the Athenian Agora during the summer.  Approximately thirty-five volunteers are chosen on the basis of academic qualifications and previous archaeological field experience.  Undergraduate applications are welcome, although priority is given to graduate students preparing for professional careers in classical archaeology and those willing to work the entire season.

Deadline: December 15, 2021

Work of the Volunteer Staff

The Volunteer Staff will participate in all aspects of the archaeological fieldwork under the supervision of a staff of field archaeologists and technical experts, all of whom have extensive field experience and advanced academic training in classical archaeology.  Volunteers will be trained in the basic techniques of excavation: working with pick, trowel, shovel, and wheelbarrow; cleaning and investigating stratigraphy; delicate cleaning of artifacts in the ground; sifting of excavated earth and techniques of flotation; washing and basic conservation of pottery and other objects; clerical work involved in the keeping of excavation records.  Tasks will be assigned in rotation, and volunteers are expected to participate in all of them.  Room and a modest allowance for board are provided for the time volunteers are working at the excavations. Travel arrangements to and from Greece are the responsibility of each volunteer.

The Summer Season

The excavations are planned for eight weeks beginning early June and continuing until early August.  Fieldwork is in progress five days a week, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a 30-minute break at midmorning.  Volunteers are expected to be on the site during these hours and to work at the excavations for a minimum of six weeks. As noted above, preference is given to those applicants who can work the full eight weeks.

The Volunteer Staff will participate in all aspects of the archaeological fieldwork under the supervision of a staff of field archaeologists and technical experts, all of whom have extensive field experience and advanced academic training in Classical Archaeology.  Volunteers will be trained in the basic techniques of excavation:  working with pick, trowel, shovel, and wheelbarrow; cleaning and investigating stratigraphy; delicate cleaning of artifacts in the ground; sifting of excavated earth and techniques of flotation; washing and basic conservation of pottery and other objects; clerical work involved in the keeping of excavation records.  Tasks will be assigned in rotation, and volunteers are expected to participate in all of them.  Fieldwork is in progress five days a week, Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with a 30-minute break at midmorning.  Volunteers should be on the site during these hours.

Living Accommodations

Members of the Volunteer Staff will be provided with living accommodations in Athens at no cost during the time they are working for the excavations.  Small groups of volunteers will share rented apartments in the Pangrati district of Athens, a short distance from the American School, approximately a 30-minute walk from the excavations.  No provisions can be made for spouses or roommates unless they are also accepted as volunteers in their own right.

In addition, a modest expense allowance, consisting of the Euro equivalent of approximately $120 per week, will be paid to each volunteer in order to cover the cost of meals.

Those persons who are already resident in their own accommodations in Athens are welcome to apply for the program and will receive the same expense allowance as other volunteers, although no rebate for their housing is possible.

Applicants chosen to participate in the program will be expected to make their own travel arrangements between the USA and Greece. 

Health Considerations

Archaeological excavation can be physically difficult and it is important to be aware of conditions that may factor into your planning. Dust, pollution, and smoke from wildfires may aggravate allergies and/or lung conditions. Temperatures are regularly in the 90s or low 100s Fahrenheit and there is limited or no access to shade during working hours. Work includes heavy lifting and repetitive muscular exertion. The typical excavation posture is squatting or bending. It is rare for excavation contexts to permit sitting or lying down while working. Trenches are typically accessed by stairs and/or ladders and some additionally require navigating narrow wooden walkways. Tools used during excavation include both small and large pickaxes, trowels, brooms and dustpans, and shovels. Excavated soil is removed by means of large rubber buckets. Excavation contexts can be narrow and enclosed. Because of the location of the excavation in a tourist district in Athens, loud noises, crowded streets, and a variety of smells are common. Bathroom facilities and access to drinking water are located in the Stoa of Atalos, approximately 500m (0.3 miles) from most areas of excavation.


Volunteers typically walk to and from work (distances up to 1.5 miles) and excavate from 7:00am until 2:00pm, with up to 1 hour of additional light work after excavation ends. There is a 30-minute break at midmorning for lunch (food not provided by the excavation) and a short break around 1:00pm. Volunteers are encouraged to bring water bottles to the excavation area, and these can be refilled through the day. 

General Information

Members are reminded that collecting antiquities, however small, is strictly forbidden by Greek law. Never pick up anything at any archaeological site, not even a single sherd. Violations will result in expulsion from the School.

The School is committed to providing a safe, secure working and living environment for its students, staff, and researchers. Any discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, age, sex, sexual orientation, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, or disability will not be tolerated. Such action should be reported immediately to the Director of the Agora Excavations or to the Director of the School.

APPLICATION

A complete application should consist of the following parts:

  1. The attached application form should be fully completed.

  2. Two letters of recommendation should be requested by the applicant from persons familiar with their academic studies or archaeological fieldwork.  These letters should be forwarded directly by their writers to the address given below.

  3. Personal statement.  Please attach a personal statement explaining your interest in the Agora Excavations.  Please discuss more fully your qualifications, previous excavation experience, career goals and interests, and any other relevant information. This essay should not exceed one side on one 8 1/2 x 11 page.

  4. Personal interview.  Applicants are urged, if at all possible, to arrange for a personal interview with the Director of the Agora Excavations either in the USA or in Athens.  Appointments can be made during the months of November and December.  In order to arrange interviews, applicants should contact Professor Camp at jcamp@agathe.gr.

  5. Acknowledgement of health considerations. Check the box on the application form to acknowledge that you have read and understood the “Health Considerations.”
     

Further inquiries, and completed applications, should be directed to:
Professor John McK. Camp II
American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Department of Classics
Randolph-Macon College
Ashland, VA 23005
jcamp@agathe.gr

Applicants can expect to receive notification after February 15.


The American School of Classical Studies at Athens does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, genetic information, national or ethnic origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation when considering admission to any form of membership or application for employment.

For further information about the program or application contact:

Professor John Camp at jcamp@agathe.gr

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