The OSA maintains extensive comparative collections that assist archaeologists with identifying materials recovered from archaeological sites. These collections are also available to students and researchers studying or educating about other scientific topics.

Close-up of chert samples from OSA collections

Lithic Raw Materials

The Lithic Raw Material Assemblage at OSA contains nearly 2000 physical samples from across Iowa and other states, with solid geologic associations and an expansive geographic selection. This collection has been compiled for over 40 years.

Clear containers of animal bone

Faunal Materials

OSA continually adds specimens to the faunal comparative collection, which contains faunal remains that are commonly recovered or may be recovered from archaeological sites, many of which were extirpated from Iowa. The osteological collections include amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. There are also hundreds of fresh water bivalves from waterways across the state and beyond. Recent additions include moose, black bear, Carolina parakeet, and freshwater drum, and northern pike.

A close-up image of dried chenopodium plant

Botanical Specimens

The botanical comparative collection contains seeds and plant remains typically recovered from Iowa archaeological sites. There are also heirloom seeds of corn, beans, and squash collected in the past few decades from across the Midwest and Great Plains.

a collection of projectile points

Archaeological Artifacts

OSA's extensive comparative collection of archaeological artifacts is comprised of chipped stone tools, ground stone, ancient pottery, and historic Euro-American objects including metal, class, and ceramics. This collection spans all archaeological time periods in Iowa: Paleoindian, Archaic, Woodland, Late Prehistoric, and Historic.

For More Information

on accessing comparative collection materials for research or education, contact the Research Collections Director