Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Archaeologists On Call Volume 54 Number 6, November/December 2001
by Colleen Popson

As we go to press, Sophia Perdikaris of Brooklyn College is compiling a list for the FBI of archaeologists willing to volunteer in the World Trade Center recovery effort. Perdikaris issued the call for volunteers on September 16; over the next 24 hours, more than 1,000 archaeologists and organizations responded, flooding her email and voicemail. The numbers have been so overwhelming that the Society for American Archaeology (, in addition to raising funds for this part of the effort, offered to maintain the fast-growing data base of respondents.

If needed, the archaeologists would not work at the disaster site, but at the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, where secondary recovery efforts are ongoing.

The overwhelming response to the call for volunteers comes as no surprise. Many archaeologists watched the devastation, search, and recovery wondering what they could do to help, guessing, as time passed, that their skills and equipment would soon become useful.

If the FBI calls them, archaeologists will join colleagues with whom they often work under "normal" conditions; forensic anthropologists and DNA specialists are helping in the identification of the victims, and preservationists are assessing the needs of historic buildings that were impacted by the disaster. All these specialists have been recruited for skills that they never imagined would be put to this type of test.

© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America