Archaeological Research by PHMC Staff

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission facilitates research, educates, and informs professionals and the public about Pennsylvania archaeology.

Some of the resources available through the PHMC Archaeology website:

Exhibits: Walk through thousands of years of history and prehistory

The Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania provides a comprehensive tour of Pennsylvania archaeology and cultural history from the Paleoindian period through the 19th century. You’ll see exhibits on archaeological laboratory and field methods, prehistoric technology, historic archaeology, excavations conducted by the Commission, dioramas depicting prehistoric lifeways in Pennsylvania, and a reconstructed Delaware Indian village.

Education

Educating everyone about Pennsylvania archaeology is a high priority of the Commission. The State Museum has a long history of field research. Its work in the Lower Susquehanna River Valley with Susquehannock sites and the stratified islands represents substantial contributions to Pennsylvania archaeology. Additionally, field research is done on Commission properties to enhance their interpretation and recover information prior to construction projects.

Archaeology Month educational programs take place every October around the state with assistance from the Commission and its partners: the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology, Inc., the Pennsylvania Archaeological Council, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Excavation demonstrations and experiments in the replication of artifacts are held for the public during Archaeology Month. These activities draw public attention to the importance of archaeological resources and the need to protect them.

The annual Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg offers another opportunity to learn about Pennsylvania archaeology. Each January, the Commission and its partners staff an informative exhibit on new topics in Pennsylvania archaeology. Stop by, talk to us, and see archaeology “on the road.”

Internship Opportunities

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) offers a variety of internship opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing a career in public history. All PHMC internships, whether paid or unpaid, full or part time, are structured educational experiences, designed to provide hands-on, real world experience that complements students’ academic work. PHMC interns work side-by-side with seasoned professionals on both special projects and on-going programs. Every effort is made to tailor internships to match student interests with agency needs.

Specific questions about the internship program can be directed to:
Internship Program
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Bureau of Archives and History
350 North Street
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120-0090
717/772-0090 (phone)
717/787-4822 (fax)

Send an E-mail to the Internship Program at RA-PHMCInterns@pa.gov

Collections: Unlock archaeology's wealth of information

The Commission's archaeological collections contain a wealth of valuable information. Since 1906, The State Museum has collected nearly 3.5 million artifacts that it manages on behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth. These collections are the result of excavations conducted by Commission staff as well as private donations by individuals and universities. Other collections have been acquired as a result of archaeological investigations required by historic preservation laws. The collections continue to grow annually, and donations of mapped and documented artifacts are welcome.

Documentation includes photographs, excavation records, maps, and over 1,400 unpublished manuscripts. These resources are only available at the Commission. Access to these collections requires a written proposal submitted to the Section of Archaeology at The State Museum.

The Commission also manages a loan program for exhibit and research purposes. A general list of collections and a bibliography of unpublished manuscripts are available in the Resources section.

Funding for archaeology

Grant assistance is available to support activities that promote or enhance the understanding of Pennsylvania's prehistoric and historic archaeological resources for public benefit. Projects that are eligible for funding include: public education programs, surveys, artifact analyses, development of regional site sensitivity models, preparation of syntheses, field schools, and, excavation projects. Activities may not be associated with state or federal compliance projects.

State and Federal Project Review: Managing impacts and safeguarding cultural resources

Review of federal and state projects, authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act and the State History Code, is the primary archaeology program managed by the Bureau for Historic Preservation. These laws require that archaeological resources be considered by state and federal agencies during the planning process. They also ensure that mitigation is conducted for sites destroyed by state and/or federal actions.

Recording and protecting sites

Recording archeological sites helps to protect them. The Commission encourages the recording of archaeological site information on Pennsylvania Archaeological Site Survey forms (PASS). Thousands of avocational and professional archaeologists have already shared site locations with the Commission resulting in 20,000+ archaeological sites being recorded in the PASS files.

The Cultural Resource Geographic Information System (CRGIS) is a map-based inventory of over 125,000 historic properties, 5000 archaeological surveys, and the PASS files combined into one electronic system. These resources are constantly updated and can help communities and local governments develop plans and streamline project review.

The Commission promotes the listing of significant archeological sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Guidelines for listing sites on the National Register of Historic Places can be found on the PHMC's website.

Learn more about archaeology

ShopPAHeritage.com contains numerous popular and technical publications about Pennsylvania archaeology. These include titles on Native American prehistory and Native American cultures, and historical archaeology in the Commonwealth. Visit our bookstore online, Archaeology and Native American Collection at ShopPAHeritage.com for publications that bring archaeology to your fingertips.

Projects and Reports

Summaries of Sites Excavated by the PHMC 

Read findings reports from three sites excavated by the PHMC.

36LA1100, Lancaster County,Quaker Hills Quarry Site 
A refuse pit of the Shenks Ferry Culture at Site 36LA1100 in Lancaster County. This pit, "Feature 3," contained abundant artifacts and organic materials. 

36UN0010, Union County
Excavation of a prehistoric pit at Site 36UN10 in Union County. The dark mass in the pit is a remarkably well preserved charred wood lining. The pit was buried and sealed by flood sediment from the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

36LH0002, Lehigh County, King's Quarry Site
Profile view of the massive step trench excavated into the prehistoric jasper quarry at 36LH2 in Lehigh County. The prehistoric miners had excavated to a depth of 23 feet.


PA State Farm Show – Uncovering Links to Our Past

Every January, PHMC makes a strong presence at the annual Pennsylvania State Farm Show in Harrisburg. This is a cooperative production with the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology, Inc. the Pennsylvania Archaeological Council and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Our dugout canoe is always a feature, and our exhibit is staffed by experienced archaeologists who are more than willing to discuss a variety of archaeological topics with visitors. Please visit the PHMC exhibit at the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, and see not only how prehistoric canoes looked but how stone tools were made.