North Dakota’s Oil Boom Creates Job Boom For Archaeologists

Print More

Wikimedia Commons

A steel spindle pumps oil on a farm in McKenzie County, North Dakota. Archeologists play a key role in the state's oil boom by surveying potential drilling sites on federal land.

On the list of movers and shakers in North Dakota’s booming oil industry is a group that might surprise you: archaeologists.

A recent report by the Associated Press goes behind the curtain of the natural gas and petroleum surge to look at what they call the “rare jobs bonanza” for teams of archeologists and engineers who have to clear the land before the drilling rigs come in:

But across the hyperactive oil fields of North Dakota, these and other groups have to wait for another team of specialists known for slow, meticulous study: archaeologists.

Much of the land being drilled in North Dakota is federal land where an archaeological survey is required.  According to the AP,  the number of official historic sites in the state has nearly tripled in the last five years — growing from 826 in 2009 to a whopping 2,260 in 2013.

“Those sites include forgotten settler cemeteries with graves marked in foreign languages, abandoned homesteader farms and stone circles put in place by American Indians thousands of years ago,” as the AP tells it.

And the boom in oil has also led to a boom in archeologists who can be found any given day mulling around oil-rich land in the state.  There are no firm numbers on the archaeological jobs, but the number of firms based in the state has nearly doubled.

It is just another example of how ancillary industries to the oil industry continue to prosper alongside the boom.