Advanced Metal Detecting for Archaeologists

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As the use of metal detectors has become generally accepted in historical archaeology, it has become clear that many professional archaeologists have not received training in how best to maximize their metal detecting experience. The key question has evolved from "Should I use a metal detector?" to "How can I best use a metal detector?" Although a few university programs and field schools have begun to include metal detecting in their training of undergraduate and graduate students, there remain only a limited number of professional archaeologists with detailed knowledge, expertise, and experience to teach this subject. Many of the current archaeologist were educated at a time when the metal detector was considered "satan's tool," and these archaeologist have not had the benefit of formal training. In addition, many professionals are not aware of the advancements in metal detector technology, and many are unfortunately using outdated models. The training of the personnel and the appropriateness of the metal detecting device are the twin elements of a successful research effort using metal detectors. AMDA will provide an opportunity for archaeologist to update and expand their knowledge and practical skills, while also being exposed to the current technology.


The specific objectives of AMDA are for the students to do the following:

  • Gain an understanding of how metal detecting works
  • Learn through case studies the range of resource types that can be effectively examined through metal detecting
  • Learn how to maximize the data return from metal detecting efforts
  • Gain a familiarity with the various devices available, their strengths and weaknesses, and their cost points, such that RPAs can make knowledgeable rental or purchase decisions as needs arise
  • Gain experience using a variety of today's metal detectors in a field situation
  • Take away a resource book and product literature for future reference when a metal detecting need arises
  • The success in mastery of the subject will be self-evaluated by the RPAs in attendance.
  • Long-term, the success should be reflected in the increased quality of the research