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The Minnesota Historical Society's archaeology collections contain more than 950,000 artifacts dating from ca. 11,500 years ago to the present. They are acquired through excavation, surface survey, and underwater recovery techniques in Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, portions of Canada, and through donations from private collections. The Society also serves as the repository for archaeological discoveries made on Minnesota public land by designation of the state archaeologist. Together these materials make up nearly 4,000 distinct collections, each representing a particular excavation or survey.
Archaeological collections constitute the historical record of long-ago Minnesota. For the more recent past, archaeological findings provide knowledge of architectural detail as well as living conditions and daily life styles not available from other sources. Some examples of the Society's holdings:
These archaeological collections present exciting research opportunities as the Society's holdings continue to grow and new methods of analysis provide fresh perspectives. Learn more about the curation of archaeology collections.
From Site to Story: The Upper Missippi's Buried Past is a valuable resource for those interested in the archaeological research being conducted in Minnesota.
Searching the Collection
Archaeological materials and records are available for further study.
Archaeology Collection records (card catalogs, reference files and electronic records) are kept in the Collections Department and most may be printed or copied for a fee. The Collections Department also provides photographic services for a fee, depending on restrictions and use. All services are arranged with the department and charges calculated at the time of order or service. Orders for copy services are not available Online. Please refer to the Museum Collections Price List for a current listing of fees and services.
Donating items to the Society's collections.