I Know Good Archaeological Metal Detecting: Why Should I Bother to Attend an AMDA Class?

In a recent conversation, it became clear that certain professional archaeologists think they are adept at metal detecting and have nothing to learn from attending an AMDA class. In response, AMDA presents the following benefits of attending an AMDA class, even if you are an accomplished detectorist and professional archaeologist.

  • Completion of the class provides you with RPA-continuing education credits for your resume and proposal. This is proof that you are interested in best practices and you are current in the field. There are very few other ways to prove you are current.
  • You will be provided hands-on experience with the latest technology at a full range of cost points. The metal detecting industry is dynamic and has made great advances in the past few years. Our class provides you access to many manufacturers and models in a field situation.
  • You will be exposed to how other professional archaeologists are using metal detecting in their research. We all can learn from what others are doing. Each project , each site type, and each set of field conditions demands a customized approach, and you will benefit from seeing what others are doing.
  • People can develop bad habits without realizing. Our instructors have noted some weaknesses in their own detecting through this class. Everybody can use some brush-up in their approaches. With our corps of 8 instructors and additional manufacturer representatives, we can analyze and fine-tune your detecting methods. We can also point out common errors to look for in your crews. If you choose to bring your own detector, we can assure that you are using the appropriate settings and modes for the tasks at hand.
  • You will be provided more than 60 articles and reports that provide examples of best practices. This bibliographic resource (on CD or thumb drive) is invaluable when writing research designs and reports. This resource is also important when you are training staff.
  • You will become hooked into a network of professional archaeologists who share your commitment to best practices in metal detecting. You can meet possible future employees or employers. You can demonstrate to agency and SHPO attendees your commitment to best practices. AMDA creates connections that last well beyond the end of the class session. Our former students are now providing us new examples for our case study CD.
  • You will create connections with manufacturers’ representatives. This will provide a channel for ongoing communication about new technology and possibly future purchases, rentals, or device loans. For example, one of our former students received the donation of several detectors for her graduate research in Africa.
  • You will engage in a discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of using avocational detectorists in your research. This is a hot topic, and there is a wide range of opinions in our classes. We do not dictate yes or no, but instead provide a full discussion of the subject.
  • You will contribute to archaeological research. Each of our field sessions occurs on archaeological sites where there is a demonstrated need for metal detecting data. While attending, you will be assisting in ongoing research.
  • This can be a mind-expanding experience. With 8 instructors, 4-5 manufacturers’ reps, and 25-30 attendees, this is a full immersion weekend. The class will energize or re-energize, and will broaden the way you think about metal detecting. Many of us work in relative isolation, and this class provides the opportunity to engage with like-minded folks.
  • Your attendance helps support AMDA’s contention that it is important for professional archaeologists to stay abreast of the best practices in metal detecting. Every full class reaffirms our mission, and reinforces the faith that the RPA has placed in this class.
  • Your attendance supports RPA’s contention that there is a need for continuing professional education in professional archaeology.
  • To be considered for addition to the AMDA instructors’ pool, completion of the class is required. If you have the skills and commitment to join us in the teaching of future classes, we request that you first attend a class to see how it is taught.

Why Should I Pay My Money to You and Your Company?

Another misconception that was voiced recently was the belief that our employers or the instructors were somehow making money by teaching this class. None of our employers see any money from this class. The class finances are overseen by the not-for-profit Modern Heritage Foundation, and all income from the class is dedicated to use for that or future classes. The bulk of the very reasonable tuition goes to paying expenses for instructor travel, lodging, and meals. We also often must pay for the classroom use, and we pay for lunches, snacks, and drinks for attendees. Instructors receive a minimal stipend (generally $400 for the entire three-day event and travel time), but put in considerable uncompensated hours preparing to teach the class. The instructors are burning vacation days to teach this class, and are burning evening hours to prepare for the class. Nobody is in this for the money. The benefits listed in the question above outweigh the minor costs of the class. Our tuition remains among the most reasonable for a 16-24 credit class. There are also other possible benefits. At our last class, three of the thirty attendees received free metal detectors. At upcoming classes, up to five students will receive tuition refunds.