Promoting the well-being of disabled veterans transitioning to civilian life through field archaeology.

The Focus of Our Program



American Veterans Archaeological Recovery (AVAR) integrates military veterans with physical or mental disabilities into a community of archaeological researchers that supports their rehabilitation through goal-oriented, team-centered excavations. The social bonding and shared experiences of participants are an important feature of American Veterans Archaeological Recovery. Participants share their new experiences in archaeology with others from the community of veterans, and will make new connections in the community of academic and professional archaeologists working to discover and preserve the physical evidence of our common cultural heritage.


AVAR emphasizes the ability of each participant.  Regardless of service injury (be it physical and/or affecting one’s mental health) participants will be assigned a role that is integral to the success of the archaeological excavation.  This may be conducting initial site surveys, drawing or cataloguing finds, or digging shoulder to shoulder with professional field archaeologists, or interpreting a site for the general public.  The experience provides participants with well–rounded archaeological training and the incentive to pursue higher education or commercial employment in the field.


Excavations are carried out to the highest standards in the field of archaeology, with onsite supervision and training provided by professional archaeologists from major universities.  It might not be readily apparent that archaeology and military service are complimentary, yet many of the founders of modern archaeology were senior military figures, including Lieutenant General Pitt Rivers, Brigadier Mortimer Wheeler, and Colonel T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia).  Many of those responsible for expanding university archaeology programs in the early 20th century learned their skills in uniform.  Field archaeology revolves around a team-oriented mission-driven culture, similar to military service, providing veterans with an environment that is immediately familiar, yet challengingly different.  There is a close correlation between the skills required by the modern soldier and those of the professional archaeologist, including surveying, geophysics (for ordnance recovery or revealing cultural heritage sites), scrutiny of the ground (for improvised explosive devices or artefacts), site and team management, mapping, navigation, and the ability to cope with manual work in often inclement weather.