Archaeology is the study of past human cultures. Through the analysis of material remains recovered from archaeological sites, archaeologists are able to reconstruct past lifeways, behaviors, and adaptations, often through an interdisciplinary approach. The Archaeology Division develops and encourages scientific research, public stewardship, and education to learn more.


Horses on steppe

The diverse interests of the Archaeology faculty and staff result in a wide variety of research areas. Included are studies of dietary choices of prehistoric and early historic populations of the central Great Plains, the peopling of the New World, early prehistory of the Great Plains, the prehistory of the Eurasian steppes and the Arabian Peninsula, material culture analyses, especially lithics, ceramics, and bone artifacts, human ecology and the rise of complex Central American societies.


Collections and Archives


The archaeological collections size is estimated at 1.5 million artifacts. Given the nature of archaeological assemblages, which often include thousands of pieces of debitage, fragmented animal bone, and large amounts of wood charcoal, it is difficult to establish a precise count. Instead, the estimate provides a good measure of the 5,500 cubic feet of artifact collections and associated records. These collections comprise one of the largest of prehistoric and historic artifacts within the state of Kansas and include some of the best North American Central Plains systematic materials from late Paleoindian, Archaic, and Kansas City Hopewell sites.


Research Facilities

Woods points

The archaeological collections, laboratory space, and a collection-based classroom are located on main campus in historic Spooner Hall, 1340 Jayhawk Blvd. The Archaeology Division occupies the lower two floors of this building. Normal business hours for the curators are Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m., or by appointment. Email Mary Adair at or Sandra Olsen at Our phone contact information is provided to the right. Requests to access collections in Spooner Hall or in our west campus curation facility should be made directly to the Curators.