Brief History

The AMDA class was born in 2011, when archaeologists Patrick Severts and Chris Espenshade recognized the need to teach best practices in metal detecting to professional archaeologists. They saw that professional archaeologists were finally accepting that metal detecting was a valuable tool, but there was no good source for instruction in metal detecting. AMDA began as a conference/class hybrid in October 2011 in Helen, Georgia, underwritten by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Based on the response to the Helen event, and in conjunction with the new RPA program for certifying continuing professional education classes, the founders of AMDA chose to focus solely on instruction. The founders included Sheldon Skaggs, Garrett Silliman, Patrick Severts, Doug Scott, Terry Powis, and Chris Espenshade. After formalization of the instructor corps and course offerings, AMDA was certified by the RPA. We were proud to be the first continuing education course to receive this important certification.

Nature of the Class

The AMDA class recognizes that the three main factors affecting the efficacy of a metal detector investigation are: 1) competency of the operators; 2) appropriateness of the device to the task at hand; and 3) suitability of the research design. The class includes eight hours of classroom instruction, where we present best practices. The class notebooks also include a case study CD with examples of successful research efforts.

We also recognize that professional archaeologists need an opportunity for instructor-monitored, hands-on, practical field experience with a variety of currently available devices. AMDA has created a partnership with several manufacturers and retailers who provide trial models at various price points. Our fieldwork sessions are designed to contribute to the research needs of our local hosts, and we work on real problems on real sites.

Future Classes

The response to our first seven classes demonstrated that there is still sufficient demand to support one-two classes per year for the next several years. The fourth and fifth classes underlined a cost-effective option for firms or agencies with multiple employees needing training. AMDA is evaluating regional demand, and we expect to begin offering the class in other parts of the country. Please monitor the web-site listed below to keep abreast of our next offering:


We continue to update our case study CD. If you have examples of successful application of metal detecting, especially on non-military sites, please send a pdf of the article or report to .

AMDA is also open to adding to our instructor corps. If you are interested in being considered, please send a resume to

Minelab America has committed to offer Minelab Professional Improvement Scholarships to one or more undergraduate/graduate students interested in attending the class. The competitive scholarship will fully cover the tuition costs of the class. Students will be instructed to apply for the Minelab Professional Improvement Scholarship by submitting a statement of not more than 1,500 words, which defines why learning best practices in the application of metal detecting will be important to their proposed research. The entries will be judged by two or more of the AMDA instructors, and the winners will be announced by the AMDA and Minelab. For the recent Harrisburg class, five students received the Minelab Professional Improvement Scholarship.

For further information about AMDA, please contact:

Garrett Silliman at