Archaeologists examine ancient remains of human habitation, soil and various artifacts in order to create a clearer view of generations lived and worked. The work involves excavation and registration of archeological remains as well as writing and dissemination. Archaeologists’ research has focused on ruins, tombs, human remains, rubbish dumps, tools, weapons, and jewelry in order to provide clues and information on the practical knowledge, trade, religion, health, diet and social status of the inhabitants of the past.

As an archaeologist, you could work on a variety of projects; performing on-site work such as excavation and registration, or indoor work such as interpreting, processing, teaching or disseminating research results.

Main tasks

• researching historical sources and aerial photographs in search of evidence of ancient settlements
• registering archaeological remains on-site
• excavating archaeological remains, describing them, drawing them and measuring them
• analyzing samples, for example with regard to insects, pollen or plant residues
• analysing human and animal bones and artifacts
• processing of research data and reporting

Competence requirements

The work of an archaeologist requires great precision and patience. Planning and organizational skills are beneficial. An archaeologist needs to show initiative in their work and independent work methods, but also the ability to work as a part of a team. The work uses shovels and trowels for excavation, as well as various measuring instruments.


Studies in archeology are offered at the Faculty of History and Philosophy at the University of Iceland, both as three-year undergraduate studies for a BA degree and as postgraduate studies.

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