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Human remains: any skeleton or mummy of a person who lived in the past.

Kelly Harkens analyzing bones

Bioarchaeologists hunt for disease in skeletons. Click for more detail.

Being an Archaeologist

Why does Indiana Jane like being a bioarchaeologist? Because discovery is exciting. Some archaeologists travel to far-off lands to dig, but many work right in your home town. We need archaeologists everywhere, to protect the land and bones of our ancestors or the things that our ancestors left behind, known as artifacts.

Archaeologists have the power to explore. This is a big responsibility. Archaeologists need years of training and education. They learn how to respect ancient remains and protect them.

Archaeologists must get permission before digging or even picking up an artifact from the ground. The archaeology team’s job is to put together a giant puzzle, piecing together all of the things ancient people left behind. Much of this is now buried underground.


An archaeological team excavates (digs up) a skeleton from the Danish Viking Age. Image by Linea Melchior, Toomas Kivisild, Niels Lynnerup, and Jørgen Dissing.

When the puzzle is complete, we learn fascinating stories about the way people lived.  

Do you know what tools archaeologists use when exploring the past? Find out here

Remember, if you see an artifact when hiking or exploring, the best thing to do is leave it behind. It is not only the law, but taking an artifact is like removing a piece of the archaeologist’s puzzle that will never be found, leaving holes in the story. Everyone has the power to help protect the past and the ancestors who lived before us.

Fully excavated skeleton via Wikimedia Commons by Hamed Saber.

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Bibliographic details:

  • Article: Being an Archaeologist
  • Author(s): Kelly Harkins
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: June 2, 2014
  • Date accessed: July 15, 2024
  • Link:

APA Style

Kelly Harkins. (2014, June 02). Being an Archaeologist. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved July 15, 2024 from

American Psychological Association. For more info, see

Chicago Manual of Style

Kelly Harkins. "Being an Archaeologist". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 02 June, 2014.

MLA 2017 Style

Kelly Harkins. "Being an Archaeologist". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 02 Jun 2014. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 15 Jul 2024.

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see
excavated skeleton

The position of a skeleton can tell archaeologists a lot, but they can learn even more if they can analyze the bones for marks and microbes.

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