Burke Museum Home

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How can I become an archaeologist?
A: There are many opportunities available to those interested in pursuing archaeology professionally or just to find out more about the discipline.

Summer Archaeology Camp: The Burke Museum offers a week-long summer class on archaeology for middle school students. Come learn the skills used by archaeologists in the field and laboratory.

Field Schools: The Archaeology Department provides information on how to apply for a field school, where you will be able to participate in a real archaeological dig. Field schools are typically open to college students, but there are some available to high school students. This is a great in-depth way to discover the world of archaeology. There are several field school listings available, including one organized by the Archaeological Institute of America.

Job Shadows: Junior and senior high school students learn what an archaeologist does at the Burke Museum by spending a morning or afternoon with us. You tour the Burke Museum Archaeology Department with an archaeologist and learn hands-on how to work with artifacts. Please call at least three weeks in advance to arrange your job shadow. Contact us at 206-685-3849 or archy@u.washington.edu.

Other Public Programs: The U.S. National Forest Service offers opportunities for all ages to participate in archaeology and cultural resource projects through their Passport In Time program. Projects range from restoring historic buildings to excavation of pre-contact and historic archaeological sites. In the summer of 2005 you can even apply to participate in an excavation in the Abruzzo Region of Italy!


Q: What are the Burke Museum Archaeology Collections?
A: For over a century, the Burke Museum has preserved cultural materials from the Pacific Rim, with an emphasis on the Pacific Northwest Coast of the Americas. The Archaeology Department has particular strengths in collections from Native American sites in Washington State, but also has collections from other parts of the Northwest United States and Alaska, the Pacific, the Middle East, and Mexico. We also have an extensive library and archives, access to Washington State site geographic databases and other information.


Q: What goes on in the Burke Museum Archaeology Department?
A: Curation: Our collections now contain more than one million artifacts plus related documents, photographs, and maps. Our mission is to preserve these collections for future generations through documentation, cataloging, and careful storage. We also provide archaeological curation and research services for government agencies, Native American Tribes and cultural resource companies, and prepare materials for exhibition.

Research: With more than a million artifacts, ranging from soil samples to Clovis points, only a small percentage are ever displayed. However, Burke Museum archaeological collections are known worldwide, and they are used by researchers from within and outside of the University to investigate past Pacific Rim cultures. Our staff can help guide you through our collections; contact us for details.

Public Education: Our staff teaches courses on archaeological curation, and we offer research assistantships and internships to graduate and undergraduate students at UW. We also work with the Burke Education Department to offer a wide variety of K-12 educational activities (tours, summer camps, traveling study collections, and job shadows) and public programs (lectures, public excavations, and volunteer opportunities).


Q: What resources do you have for teachers?
A: We have developed a series of kits that assist educators in the challenge of teaching archaeology to elementary, middle, and high school students. Each kit contains hands-on curricula, teaching materials, and background information. They can be rented on a weekly basis for a small fee by contacting the Education Department at 206-543-5591 or e-mail at burked@u.washington.edu. The following kits are now available:

  • What is Archaeology?
  • Peopling of the Americas
  • Archaeology of the West Point Site
  • Ancient Writing
  • Lewis and Clark at Fort Clatsop