Discover Archaeology

What is Archaeology?

Archaeology is a sub-field of anthropology, the study of all human culture. Archaeology focuses on the scientific study of past cultures and their lifeways through the recovery and analysis of material remains and environmental data. Archaeologists affiliated with the University of Iowa research past human lifeways around the globe, including in Iowa, Namibia, China, Portugal, France, Israel, Jordan, and the American Southwest and Plains. In Iowa, UI archaeologists discover and study sites, artifacts, and physical remains that preserve the past 13,000 years of human settlement.

Discover Archaeology at the University of Iowa! 

The University of Iowa is home to the Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA), a nationally recognized archaeological research center and the statutorily mandated repository for the State of Iowa’s archaeological collections. Archaeological collections can also be explored at the Museum of Natural History (MNH). Professional archaeologists hold faculty and staff positions at the OSA and MNH, as well as in four University of Iowa academic departments, creating a diverse and experienced core of archaeological researchers and educators.

Office of the State Archaeologist          

Established in 1959, the Office of the State Archaeologist at the University of Iowa (OSAis a nationally recognized archaeological research center. The OSA conducts archaeological research, fieldwork, and public programs around the state, preserves ancient burial sites, and examines and reinters ancient human remains. The OSA also maintains the state archaeological repository, manages data on all recorded archaeological sites in Iowa, and publishes technical and popular books and reports on Iowa archaeology. 

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Archaeology in the Department of Anthropology

Anthropology is the comparative study of peoples and cultures past and present. The UI Department of Anthropology offers training in the discipline's four major subfields—cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and archaeology. The research interests of the archaeology faculty are diverse yet there are shared strengths in topical and regional themes such as palaeoanthropology, sociocultural evolution, urbanism, and historical archaeology.

 Department of Anthropology 
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 Anthropology Club


Archaeology in the Department of Classics                    

The Department of Classics, one of the four original departments created at the foundation of the University in 1847, maintains close interdisciplinary connections to the departments of Anthropology, Art, History, Communication Studies, Comparative Literature, History, Philosophy, Religious Studies. Currently, the Department sponsors archaeological research and excavation in Gangivecchio, Sicily, under the direction of Professor Glenn Storey.    


Archaeology in the Department of Religious Studies

As the oldest religious studies program in an American public university, the Department of Religious Studies has a long history of scholarship and teaching in the field. Professor Cargill's research program focuses on Second Temple Jewish literature and archaeology. He has done much research in the Digital Humanities, having authored a 3D, virtual reality reconstruction of the archaeological remains of Qumran, near to where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.


Archaeology in the School of Art and Art History                     

The School of Art and Art History provides a creative, multidisciplinary environment for students of the studio arts, the history of art, and art education. Professor Björn Anderson, a specialist in the study of material, cultural, and visual interaction in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, has taught a variety of courses in ancient art, archaeology, and digital technologies. His digital projects include involvement in the Levantine Ceramics Project.  


Archaeology and Cultural History Exhibits at the Museum of Natural History

Iowa Hall, on the first floor of the Museum of Natural History in Macbride Hall, recreates 500 million years of Iowa's natural and cultural history with exhibits of geology, native cultures, and ecology. The Native Cultures of Iowa exhibits highlight peoples of Iowa from 12,000 years ago to the present.



Archaeology Collections at the Museum of Natural History

The Museum of Natural History holds 3,718 archaeological objects in its research and teaching collections.  Many are stone points and tools from Iowa or the Midwest.  The Kallam, Stefansson, Quiggley, Louvar, and Elliott collections make up the majority of our archaeological material.


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Old Capitol Museum

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