The New York State Museum is open to the public. For more information please see: www.nysm.nysed.gov/reopen

The focus of the Archaeology Department is using archaeological remains to interpret the nature and results of human activity in and around New York State, as well as activities in other regions that had an impact on people living in New York. Archaeological research at what would become the New York State Museum began in 1847, when the Board of Regents expanded the State Cabinet of Natural History to include an Historical and Antiquarian Collection. During the 20th century, formative research in archaeology was carried out by Museum staff members such as Arthur C. Parker, William A. Ritchie, Robert E. Funk, and William N. Fenton. Today, an active program of field and collections-based research in Native American and Euro-American archaeology, geoarchaeology, paleoethnobotany, and biological anthropology continues under staff members, museum research associates, and visiting researchers.

Research Departments

  • Bioarchaeology lab

    Bioarchaeology

  • black and white photo man sitting in ground

    Cultural Resource Survey Program (CRSP)

  • NYS geo arch sites map

    Geoarchaeology

  • Historical Archaeology

    Historical Archaeology

  • Archaeologist outside photo

    Native American Archaeology

News Articles

Fluted Point from West Athens Hill
Published September 21, 2021 | Native American Archaeology

How old are the oldest archaeological sites in New York? Put another way, when did Native Americans first people the region that we now call New York? These questions are difficult to answer because there are no radiocarbon-dated sites of these early peoples that archaeologist call Paleoindians...

Lead Balls from Fort Franklin
Published September 7, 2021 | Historical Archaeology

In August 2021, the New York State Museum acquired 200 artifacts from the LAMAR Institute in Savannah, Georgia. These artifacts are the result of the only systematic archaeological study of three Revolutionary War battlefield sites on the north shore of Long Island. 

Fort Franklin...

Ball Clay Pipes
Published May 11, 2021 | Historical Archaeology

Ball clay tobacco pipe fragments are one of the most common artifacts found on archaeological sites from the 17th through the 19th centuries. There are many reasons for this including the fact that most people smoked, tobacco pipes were relatively cheap and broke easily, and they survive well in...

Albee Square Collection
Published May 6, 2021 | Historical Archaeology

In March of 2015, archaeologists excavated 3 wells, 3 cisterns, and one possible privy at 420 Albee Square in Brooklyn, New York. The New York State Museum acquired the resulting collection in 2020. The artifacts recovered from the excavations illustrate the changing demographics in Brooklyn at...

Artifacts from the Pierce House Collection
Published March 8, 2021 | Historical Archaeology

The NYSM Historical Archaeology Collection recently acquired the Pierce House Collection containing a wide variety of mid-nineteenth century household artifacts from a farmstead located in the town of Lewis, Essex County, New York. Documenting the transition from a tenant to owner occupied...

Small Footed Crucible
Published February 11, 2021 | Historical Archaeology

Many of the Historical Archaeology Collections at the New York State Museum were recovered during compliance work prior to the construction of roads, buildings, and other structures. Larger compliance projects can result in the recovery of 100,000 artifacts or more. Time and budget constraints...

Excavation Site
Published January 26, 2021 | CRSP

In late Fall 2020, the Museum’s Cultural Resource Survey Program (CRSP) conducted a Phase 2 site examination of a historic period archaeological site in Central New York (see the NYSM Science Tuesday post from 11/24/2020).  Among the goals of the excavation were to delineate the site’s...

Magnification of crucible base showing the shell layers
Published January 26, 2021 | Historical Archaeology

Many of the historical archaeology collections at the New York State Museum were recovered during compliance work prior to the construction of roads, buildings, and other structures. Larger compliance projects can result in the recovery of 100,000 artifacts, or more. Time and budget...

Published January 8, 2021 | Archaeology

Just released! The NYSM has published the latest volume in the Bulletin Series entitled, Onondaga and Empire; An Iroquoian People in an Imperial Era. As author James W. Bradley notes, the publication “continues the story of the Onondaga, central nation in the League of the Five Nations...

Excavation Site showing Stone Foundation and Drain Pipe
Published January 6, 2021 | Historical Archaeology

Ann Lee founded the first communal settlement of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, commonly known as the Shakers, in Watervliet New York in 1776. Lee died in 1784, but the community she established continued until 1915. Archaeological excavations at the West family...

Painting: "Still Life with Fruit" by Pieter Claesz (1644)
Published November 17, 2020 | Historical Archaeology

Archaeologists can glean a tremendous amount of information from soil sediments collected at archaeological sites. Pollen grains, phytoliths, seeds, and other remnant plant material can survive for thousands of years below ground under the right conditions. These data allow for the...

Here are some examples of Native American projectile points in the recently donated McVaugh collection.
Published November 2, 2020 | Native American Archaeology

Over the years, the NYSM has received donations of some very large archaeological collections numbering hundreds of thousands of specimens, but small collections can also be important accessions. Born in 1909, Roger McVaugh grew up on his parents’ small hog farm north of Kinderhook, Columbia...

Here are some examples of Native American projectile points in the recently donated McVaugh collection.
Published November 2, 2020 | Native American Archaeology

Over the years, the NYSM has received donations of some very large archaeological collections numbering hundreds of thousands of specimens, but small collections can also be important accessions. Born in 1909, Roger McVaugh grew up on his parents’ small hog farm north of Kinderhook, Columbia...

19th-century wine bottle fragment excavated at the Shaker Settlement, Watervliet, NY
Published July 14, 2020 | Historical Archaeology

Ann Lee founded the first communal settlement of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, commonly known as the Shakers, in Watervliet New York in 1776. Lee died in 1784 but the community she established continued until 1915. Archaeological excavations at the...

A piece of grape shot (left) and an exploded mortar bomb (right) recovered during scientific excavation at the Lake George Battlefield Park
Published June 24, 2020 | Historical Archaeology

The NYSM Historical Archaeology Collections now includes artifacts from the 2014, 2015 and 2016 excavations at the Lake George Battlefield Park in Lake George, New York. David Starbuck, who conducted the first professional archaeology in the park in 2000 and 2001 (the artifacts recovered during...

Published May 5, 2020 | Native American Archaeology

Archaeologists have a lot of dates wrong for North American indigenous history – but we're using new techniques to get it right

...

Magnetic susceptibility results overlaid with surface artifact locations show a strong correlation between finds and MS "hot spots"
Published April 6, 2020 | Historical Archaeology

The New York State Museum, in collaboration with the Open Space Institute and Stockbridge Munsee Mohican Tribal Preservation Office, recently completed a controlled surface artifact collection and a magnetic susceptibility survey (MS) at the location of a tenant house owned by former Albany...

Volunteers Sue S. and Neil W. pause during block excavations at the OPS Site, July 10, 2019
Published April 6, 2020 | Native American Archaeology

In July and September 2019, NYSM archaeologists and volunteers conducted their fifth season of excavations at the OPS Paleoindian site in Madison County. Discovered in 2015, the OPS site has yielded stone fluted points of the Crowfield "style," indicating an early Native American encampment...

Spoil heap (also known as a backdirt pile) as it was seen in May 2019 at the Lake George Courtland Street Burial Ground
Published December 19, 2019 | Bioarchaeology

When a historic unmarked cemetery was found during construction in Lake George, New York last winter, it was presumed to date to the mid-18th century French and Indian War. The discovery of a regimental button from the First Pennsylvania Battalion however placed the cemetery at the time of the...

Published December 19, 2019 | Historical Archaeology

Archaeologists from the New York State Museum and the University of Albany completed two collaborative field schools in Historical Archaeology at the Ten Broeck Mansion, located in Albany, NY's Arbor Hill neighborhood during the summers of 2017 and 2018. These excavations concentrated on...

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