OSA has compiled a collection of over 2000 reproduction and replica objects and authentic, unprovenienced artifacts used for education, outreach, and training. 

The OSA teaching collections are used for educational exhibits and demonstrations, K-12 classroom activities, collegiate training and workshops, and more. Authentic archaeological artifacts in these collections are primarily sourced from private donations with poorly documented locational data. Replicas and reproductions such as scapula hoes, woven mats, and arrows help educators to demonstrate technologies that are not preserved in the archaeological record. 

Close up of tip and fletching of replica arrows

Object Types

Material Type Objects
Chipped stone Projectile points, scrapers, bifacial tools, debitage
Ground stone Axes, celts, adzes, manos, metates, hammerstones, nutting stones, abraders
Faunal Remains Modern specimens of animal bones, teeth, and mussel shells; replica modified bone and shell items; animal paw and tooth casts; furs, hides, and quills
Pottery Reproduction and replica pots, reproduction pot sherds, unprovenienced grit- and shell-tempered pot sherds; pottery making tools
Plants Seeds, fibers, dried plants, reproduction cattail mats
Other lithics Lithic raw materials, fire cracked rock
Historic Indian Replica games and game equipment; reproduction ribbon applique, flags, regalia items; replica trade items
Historic Euro-American Reproduction textiles and personal items; authentic earthenware, porcelain, and crockery; buttons; bottles and glass; household and farm items; 
Media Pamphlets, booklets, childrens' books, video


An overview of teaching trunk contents

Archaeology Discovery Trunks

OSA rents comprehensive teaching resource kits to Iowa educators. Check out our eight different themes that cover Iowa's archaeological past from 13,000 years ago through 1800s dairy farming. 

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Why Context Matters

Authentic artifacts in OSA teaching collections include objects with no or poorly documented locational information. When an artifact's location is lost or not recorded, much of its story and all of its research potential for archaeologists is also lost. An artifact's horizontal (where it is on the landscape) and vertical (how deep it is) provenience provides important contextual information for researchers, such as how that artifact relates to other artifacts and features within an archaeological site and how that site relates to other sites and the landscape. A common analogue is to think of your favorite book. If someone ripped out random pages of that book, or even entire chapters, what important information would you miss about the story?

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