6 Hobbies that Will Make You Feel Like Indiana Jones

Jungle ruins, ancient silver, Egyptian papyrus fragments, museum vaults, wartime documents–sounds like adventures for everyone’s favorite treasure hunter (though he could seriously use some education on best practices for archaeologists.) The truth is that these are all things you can include in your own life. Just don’t smash up any medieval churches along the way.

Papyrus fragment of the book of Amos. Copied by a scribe around the year 550 CE.  Unearthed at Oxyrhynchus around 1900. Image from: UPenn Library
Papyrus fragment of the book of Amos. Copied by a scribe around the year 550 CE. Unearthed at Oxyrhynchus around 1900. Image from: UPenn Library

Transcribe Egyptian Papyrus Fragments

The year is 1897. Members of the Egyptian Exploration Fund are exploring the ruins of Oxrhynchus, the City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish. In the desert sands, the explorers find a treasure trove. It’s not gold or gemstones. They found cache of papyrus documents–ancient Greek poetry, early christian writings, letters, wills, and much more. Over the next decade, they unearthed half a million fragments. Flash-forward to today. Many fragments remain untranslated and unorganized. This is where you come in. Ancient Lives provides a website for measuring and transliterating the ancient documents.

Search hand-written collections from The Great War

With 1.5 million pages of hand-written diaries, the National Archives of the United Kingdom is calling on citizen historians to classify the contents. Visit Operation War Diary and select from the diaries of a machine gun brigade, field veterinarian, cavalry units and many more.

Discover Secrets from the Smithsonian Vault

Want to pore over the field notes from an expedition into the Amazon or the diaries and sketches of an artist? The Smithsonian Transcription Center is a peek deep into their historic vaults. Topics include world cultures, the American Civil War, biodiversity, and mysteries of the universe.

Help Identify Copies of Famous Artworks

Perhaps you’re more interested in international collaboration–well, really competition in the spirit of collaboration. ARTigo is for you. The website pairs you against another player. You compete for points by tagging artwork with simple descriptions like portrait, sketch, landscape, drawing, sculpture. The tags are used to group copies of related artworks together. The database includes over 25,000 images assembled by the Institute for Art History at the University of Munich.

Greek Tetradrachm. A silver coin used in Athens from 510 to 38 BCE. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen
Greek Tetradrachm. A silver coin used in Athens from 510 to 38 BCE. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen

Collect, Clean and Research Ancient Coins

Feeling a bit more hands on? Stores likes Crusty Romans and Dirty Old Coins sell unsorted and uncleaned coins from antiquity. They also offer cleaning instructions and supplies. Guides are available for identifying your ancient currency.

Preserve Artifacts from an Ancient Civilization on a Jungle Island

Imagine yourself in a Caribbean paradise. You’re on a secluded beach. The waves are crashing against the shore a few feet away. Are lounging on a beach towel with a piña colada in your hand? No, you’re doing something way cooler. You’re on a sea-side archaeological expedition with Para la Naturaleza in Puerto Rico. The goal? Collect artifacts from island’s first inhabitants before they’re lost to rising coastlines.

Bonus: Name Planets Orbiting Other Stars

As humans, we’ve sent the sounds of our planet to interstellar space, now we’re bringing other solar systems into our history. The International Astronomical Union has accepted proposals for naming hundreds of planets discovered outside our solar system. Now they’re asking for the public to vote on the names. NameExoWorlds presents 20 star systems, each with a slate of names to vote on. For example, a solar system in the constellation The Great Bear (aka “the big dipper”) includes names for two planets and the star. One set of names is based on Finnish history, another set is based on Greek mythology, another names the heavenly bodies after animals native to Japan, other choices pull from Thai mythology or languages of north Africa. Hurry! Voting closes October 31, 2015.

Header Imager: Indiana Jones exhibition at Montreal Science Museum. Photo by Eva Blue

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