Contribution starting at $3,400
Exported from Streamline App (
7+ days (avg. $486 a day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
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Discovering Ancient Societies in Portugal

Muge, Salvaterra de Magos, Santarém, Portugal Map it
Lead Scientist
Activity Level
Very Easy
Dinner at local restaurants
Special diets accommodated
Bone remains discovered in Portugal
Earthwatch volunteers excavating in Portugal
Volunteers working together in the field
Volunteers conducting participating in a hands-on archaeological dig
Volunteers comparing their archaeological discoveries in Portugal
Volunteers sorting artifacts in Portugal
Scenic view of Portugal's Tagus river
Bone remains discovered in Portugal
Earthwatch volunteers excavating in Portugal
Volunteers working together in the field
Volunteers conducting participating in a hands-on archaeological dig
Volunteers comparing their archaeological discoveries in Portugal
Volunteers sorting artifacts in Portugal
Scenic view of Portugal's Tagus river

Contribute to conserving one of Portugal’s National Monuments while finding clues about the transition from hunter-gatherer to farming populations. A better understanding of the past will give us an improved understanding of our cultural societies today.

Archaeology in Portuguese VineyardAround 8,000 years ago, Central Portugal underwent a dramatic shift in lifestyles from hunting and gathering to farming and herding. This transition, known as the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition, remains one of the most controversial issues in prehistory archaeology, attracting significant archaeological debate and extensive research. The common-held belief is that hunter-gatherers disappeared from Central Portugal around 7,000 years ago, and later, farmers and herders settled in the area. But now, archaeologists are uncovering clues contradicting this.

By analyzing bone tools, shells, ornaments, and human remains, researchers will trace the transition between these periods to better understand the complex changes not only in technology and subsistence but also in how people thought about themselves and the world around them, as well as the nature of their social interactions.

Join researchers in Tagus Valley, Portugal, one of the most important regions, to study this transitional phase and help discover the answers to establish a timeline. You’ll excavate, sifting for tools and other evidence of human activity while working to preserve part of Portugal’s natural and cultural heritage.



A Typical Itinerary

  • Day 1: Meet and travel to the field site.
  • Days 2–6: Excavate at the field site, analyze artifacts, and process findings in the lab.
  • Day 7: Departure

You also have the option of joining a 13-day team.




When you arrive, the researchers will conduct an orientation and brief you on the work you’ll be doing and its importance for preserving cultural heritage. Fieldwork will begin on Day 2, where you will rotate between:


Volunteers excavating muge mesolithic shell mounds

You will assist researchers in excavation at the site by helping record data, operate software, screen sediment, and collect archaeological samples.

Volunteer processing finds from the field

In the lab, you will wash and dry-brush artifacts, sort and label archaeological findings, and assist with examining plant and animal remains that are clues to the diet of those who lived there. You might have an opportunity to help analyze human remains, should they be discovered on site.


Field conditions and research needs can change the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.





6 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Marjorie Talbot |
This experience far exceeded all of my expectations. I was very impressed with the level of knowledge of every one of the scientists. They all clearly enjoyed their work and always shared their knowledge with the volunteers. I learned so much. In addition, all of these people were very caring and compassionate. They made sure everyone's needs were met and made sure that everyone was comfortable with activities, food, accommodations, etc. I could not have asked to be around better people for this experience.
Carilyn Anderson |
This was a wonderful project in a beautiful place. The archaeology staff was golden: kind, patient, fun, funny, good sense of humor, knowledgeable--I can't say enough good things about them all. It was a bonus that I have "eagle eye" close-up vision (besides decades of proofreading experience and attention to detail) and was promoted to not having to have my sieving checked anymore at the end of the first week. Célia showed me how to brush carefully on the first day and I was able to turn up some exceptional items that excited the staff. I was lucky in the spot I was working! In the briefing for this project, the temperature range was on the low side for the high (95°), as one day reached 109°. Most days were probably in the 90s or low 100s. The tent cover protected us from the sun; a breeze usually came up before we were finished for the morning; sieving was done in the shade of a cork tree. Work at the lab, around the corner from us, was interesting and varied. We had breaks during the day, but not so long that I felt that I was under-utilized. The dinners at the restaurant were delicious. Having the contessa (we stayed in her palace) at the Wednesday night pizza meals--on her patio--was delightful. Several members of the staff urged me to come back. It's food for thought because I was really good at this work; of course, good finds during one project don't mean that they would be as exciting at another time. If I returned, however, it wouldn't be in August.
Annette Gardin |
When I started looking into going on an archeological dig I imagined sleeping in a tent or maybe glamping and eating beans out of a can over a campfire. That is not what happened here. Our accommodation, a beautiful old palace with a central garden. Our rooms, I romantically believe, were possibly the servants' quarters. Double or single rooms with shared bathrooms and a small but well stocked kitchen. Dinner was mostly eaten out at an authentic Portuguese family style restaurant with delicious dishes made with fresh ingredients. The dig itself, although work, taught me that nothing needs to happen immediately, we can slow down, there is no rush. We found fascinating large and small items, and the scientists were pleasant and enthusiastic to teach us. I would give the whole experience a 10 out of 10. I loved it.

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