Pennsylvania Archaeology

Archaeological technicians at an excavation site

Each year hundreds of archaeological investigations are conducted in Pennsylvania.  Included are university field schools, projects conducted by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, and projects conducted to comply with state and Federal laws.  In this section of the Web site, we provide you with some of the information on our heritage that these projects have provided.

The Overview of Pennsylvania Archaeology takes you from the earliest known occupation of the region, beginning over 16,000 years ago, to the recent history of Pennsylvania.  The overview shows how we use the information from archaeological excavations to illuminate our understanding of past lifeways.

Special Topics presents information on various important topics about Pennsylvania archaeology. Many of these topics are featured at the annual Farm Show in Harrisburg.

Native American archaeology includes information about time periods begining over 16,000 years ago until the Contact period in the early 18th century. 

Historic Archaeology includes information about time periods after European contact up to the present day.

Summaries of Archaeological Projects by Subbasin provide an opportunity to learn about the archaeology that has been completed near your home. Follow the link on the left navigation bar.

Federal laws require that agencies consider the effects of their actions on archaeological sites.  As a result, archaeological excavations precede the construction of many highways, bridges, power lines, and the like.  Summaries of some of the interesting projects conducted in compliance with state and federal laws are presented in Compliance Summaries.

Archaeological technicians mapping a feature  Excavation of an archaeological site

Related Links
  • Many of the artifacts collected from these projects are housed at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, where they can be studied by scholars. Read a summary of the extensive artifact collections, including information on how to donate artifacts.