The Museum’s archaeological collections are organized into geographic divisions or by material. The geographic collections derive from Michigan and the surrounding Great Lakes area, Eastern North America, East and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe. Our Archaeobiology collection includes comparative plant and animal resources. Our analytical collections consist of sediments and materials related to lithic sourcing. Most of the Museum’s archaeological collections derive from excavations and surveys and are enriched by accompanying field notes, site and survey maps, photographs, and other relevant documents and records.
The Asian Archaeology Division has more than 80 collections from East Asia, Southeast Asia, Japan, and South Asia. Most important are the Philippine Expedition (Guthe) Collection and other collections of Asian trade ceramics.
The European Archaeology collections consist primarily of Lower and Middle Paleolithic stone implements used extensively in teaching. Recent additions to the collections come from museum excavations at Neolithic to Bronze Age sites in southeastern Europe.
The Great Lakes Division curates archaeological holdings from Michigan, surrounding Great Lakes states, and Ontario. The division holds more than one million cataloged objects from scientific research at over 2300 archaeological sites and from donations.
Latin American collections largely consist of pre-Columbian ceramics from Mexico and Peru and some Central American and Amazonian material. Highlights are ceramics from Peru collected by J. Beal Steere and artifacts from early Valley of Mexico surveys.
Most important of the Museum’s Near Eastern collections are the unique fieldwork-based, comprehensive archaeological collections derived from Curator Henry Wright’s surveys and excavations in Iran and Syria documenting the evolution of complex societies.
The division houses archaeological materials and related documentation from all states except in the Great Lakes area. Important collections come from Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian sites in the Midwest and southeastern U.S. and from New Mexico.
In July of 2011, the Museum of Anthropology decided to combine its ethnobotanical and zooarchaeological holdings into a single collection—Archaeobiology—to be curated by Kent V. Flannery. In so doing, Michigan was following in the footsteps of the Smithsonian Institution, which had created a similar Archaeobiology program in the decade of the 1990s.
The Archaeosciencel Laboratory curates non-artifact materials, mostly sediments and geological specimens. These materials are used in studies of ancient environments and to identify the sources of raw materials used by ancient peoples.
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